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|“||Magic makes people feel too powerful… too entitled. It makes them think they can defy the will of a king!||„|
|~ King Runeard revealing his true nature while expressing his reason for distrusting the Northuldran people.|
|~ King Runeard's chronologically last line, immediately after killing the Northuldran chief.|
King Runeard is the posthumous main antagonist of Disney's Frozen franchise, specifically being the posthumous overarching antagonist of the first film Frozen, the posthumous main antagonist of Disney's 58th full-length animated feature film Frozen II and its novelization, and the most crucial antagonist of the prequel novel Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr.
He was the founder and first King of Arendelle, the husband of Queen Rita, the father of King Agnarr, the father-in-law of Queen Iduna, and the paternal grandfather of Elsa and Anna. As opposed to his aforementioned family who are benevolent rulers, Runeard was a ruthless tyrant who plotted to neutralize the Northuldran people out of fear of their association with magic.
|“||That is NOT what magic does! That's just your fear! Fear is what can't be trusted!||„|
|~ Elsa furiously denouncing Runeard for letting his fear of magic consume his mind and mold him into a ruthless tyrant.|
At first, Runeard was seemingly presented as a benevolent and peaceful ruler as he welcomed the Northuldrans and built up a dam to act as a bridge of peace between both the Northuldra and Arendelle; even his son Agnarr and his granddaughters Elsa and Anna revered and idolized him as the great founder of Arendelle.
However, this was all a façade that Runeard made up to hide his true nature as a hostile, arrogant, manipulative, bigoted, and selfish tyrant who is determined to expand his power through fear and oppression and doesn't care about anyone or anything or other than his status as king. In truth, Runeard hated the Northuldrans due to their connection to magic, as he feared that magic makes people feel too powerful and could potentially threaten his power and legacy as a king. His actual motive for building the dam was to weaken the Northuldra's resources so that he could starve and force the tribe into his rule; this was evident when he murdered the Northuldra tribe chief in cold blood when the latter developed suspicions over the dam, then sparked a war against the Northuldrans in order to cover his tracks.
One could argue that a part of Runeard genuinely feared the destruction of his people at the hands of the Northuldra, but this was never true because his motivations were actually selfish; he refused to take responsibility for any of the sins that he committed, instead blaming it on the magical spirits of the Enchanted Forest because it was easier than taking responsibility, which slowly delved into his fear of magic that it causes people to think that they can overthrow him, and ultimately his plot to seize control over the Northuldra through starvation because of their connection with magic. In addition, his fear of magic caused the people of Arendelle to carry on his xenophobic propaganda against it more and more as time kept passing by as they started to blame their own problems on magical spirits as well because they had no defense, which shows that Runeard caused the kingdom of Arendelle to keep scapegoating magic and anyone associated with it as the source of their problems for years to come.
Eerily, Runeard seemed to harbor a resentment for the Northuldrans much deeper than that of sensible worry, as he saw fit to deceive his own men, possibly believing that they would never tolerate or advocate the full extent of his intentions. He let only his second-in-command know of the dam's real oppressive function, and after murdering the Northuldrans' unarmed chief, he manipulated his entire army into believing the Northuldrans had attacked him, ordering an unwarranted offensive on the people even though the Northuldra were defending themselves and both sides wanted peace, thus causing dozens of meaningless casualties on both factions out of nothing more than his own desire for power. It is likely that Runeard realized he could not ensnare the Northuldrans in his lies forever, and thus moved his plans to the next and more extreme step. The novelization of the movie unveils more of Runeard's deep-rooted spite: even as he looks at Northuldran children simply playing with the spirits, he shakes his head and scowls with disgust, leaving the Northuldran Yelena to sense his hatred. It is therefore evident that Runeard loathed the entire people, and wasn't simply worried about the adults rising up to him.
It is also apparent in Dangerous Secrets that Runeard was quite neglectful towards his family as he showed little to no concern or consideration over the well-being of his young son, Agnarr, or his wife, Rita. The only kindness he offered Rita was showering her in superficial materialism to placate her, but when she still sobbed and longed after freedom from her claustrophobic marriage, Runeard only grew impatient with her. When Rita couldn't take it anymore and fled upon having all memories of her marriage erased by the trolls, Runeard was quick to lock up any evidence of her ever existing and banning the mentioning of her name.
Runeard was also psychologically abusive to Agnarr, as he berated his son for exploring the Enchanted Forest, denied him the opportunity to be a normal son, and even shamed him for crying upon learning his mother is gone for good. It's implied that even when he was welcoming the Northuldrans, Runeard didn't have a close and loving relationship with Agnarr, given that the only time they are seen interacting onscreen, Runeard just coldly ordered Agnarr to stand tall in his posture, indicating that he intended to mold Agnarr into a ruthless king like himself. The novelization of the movie substantiates this relationship, as it falls on Lieutenant Mattias to cheer Agnarr up when he feels laid aside by his father. Moreover, Agnarr sees Mattias as his father-figure instead of Runeard and is shown to be aware that Runeard had put him in Mattias's charge as a way to get rid of him during discussions with the other men and the Northuldrans. When Agnarr was present in the Enchanted Forest, Runeard just coldly berated him for his curiosity and left (which was also their last interaction with each other), and after Runeard caused the battle against the Northuldrans in the camps, Agnarr was bleeding out. If Iduna hadn't saved him from the crossfire, Agnarr surely would have died, and even so, the only one who cared for Agnarr's safety was Lieutenant Mattias.
In the end, Runeard's arrogance and prejudice proved to be his downfall as the war that he instigated against the Northuldrans led to him falling to his death on a cliff and causing the angered spirits to cast a curse on the Enchanted Forest for decades. Upon learning the truth, Elsa and Anna were left heartbroken and appalled by their grandfather's heinous crimes, furiously abandoning all respect they had for him by destroying the dam to end the curse and bring true peace to both Arendelle and the Northuldra.
- Queen Rita † - Wife
- King Agnarr † - Son
- Queen Iduna † - Daughter-in-law
- Queen Elsa - Granddaughter
- Queen Anna - Granddaughter
- Royal Guards
- Lieutenant Mattias
- Lord Peterssen
- King Runeard is one of the rare sequel villains to actually appear in the Disney Animated Canon, the others are Percival C. McLeach from The Rescuers Down Under, Firebird from Fantasia 2000 and Arthur from Ralph Breaks the Internet.
- Despite being the successor in the second film of the series and already being dead by the time the story takes place, King Runeard is more evil than Prince Hans (the main antagonist of the first film). This is because while Hans posed a genuine threat towards Anna and Elsa, he did so because of his tragic past of being tormented by his abusive father and his sadistic brothers, whereas King Runeard betrayed and tried to enslave the Northuldrans solely out of spite and fear that they could threaten his power. Even Elsa and Anna showed nothing but sheer disgust towards Runeard after learning the truth about his notorious actions, finding their grandfather to be far more despicable than Hans.
- Ironically, the scene in which the snowy manifestation of King Runeard killing the leader of the Northuldrans with his sword bears a resemblance to the scene from the first film where Hans tried to kill Elsa in the same manner. Coincidentally, both did so out of fear and despise against their victims. The difference is that while Hans failed to carry on Elsa's murder, Runeard succeeded in killing the Northuldran chief. Thus, Runeard may serve as a more darker example of what Hans could have easily become if he had succeeded in killing both sisters and been crowned King of Arendelle in the first film.
- King Runeard is the Greater-Scope Villain of the Frozen franchise as his heinous actions against the Northuldran people not only led to the main events of Frozen II, but also to the events of the first film. Given Iduna's selfless act of saving Agnarr from the battle which Runeard started, the elemental spirits gave Elsa her ice powers, which caused her to accidentally unleash them and allowed both Prince Hans and the Duke of Weselton to turn Arendelle against her in the original film; while the construction of the dam caused the Northuldrans to resent the Arendellians until Anna and Elsa managed to destroy the dam so they could be released from their imprisonment in the forest.
- King Runeard is the first main antagonist of a Disney animated film to be a completely posthumous character, since he had been long dead by the time the film's events take place while his actions plague the protagonists in the present.
- Likewise, King Runeard is the first and only main antagonist in the Disney Animated Canon who didn't face the heroes or make any contact with them or any other characters in the series.
- King Runeard is considered a dark reflection to many other characters, including:
- His son Agnarr: both became Kings of Arendelle, both feared magic which led to their lives being lost, both married a woman from a different land, and both had children of their own. However, unlike Agnarr (whose fear of magic was well-intentioned because Elsa accidentally injured Anna with her ice powers because she lost control of them, separated Anna and Elsa from each other for their protection, and also genuinely cared about his wife Iduna), Runeard's fear of magic was entirely self-centered because he never wanted to take responsibility for his own problems, and instead blamed it on magic because it was easier and it couldn't exactly defend itself. Additionally, he never cared about his own wife and son, as he forcefully married Rita for political reasons and became impatient when she began longing for true love and freedom, and when she left Arendelle for good, he shamed Agnarr for weeping over her absence and lied to him about her being carried off by evil spirits.
- His granddaughter Queen Elsa: both are very powerful monarchs known to control their kingdom with competence while holding their senses of fear to themselves (Elsa holding a sense of fear that her powers would go out of control and threaten everyone she cared for, and Runeard holding a sense of fear that magic itself would be a threat to his kingdom). However, unlike Elsa (who overcame her fear and developed a trust toward others closest to her), Runeard allowed his fear to cloud his judgement over the trust of others; even Elsa coldly points this out after learning the truth of Runeard's notorious crimes. Runeard serves as an example of what Elsa would become if she allowed her fear to consume her.
- In addition, King Runeard would be considered a darker reflection of Prince Hans: both are selfish monarchs who desired to expand their power by all means necessary, even if includes committing murder and treachery. They are also known to put up a façade of kindness and generosity to hide their true nature and gain the trust of others for their own benefit. However, unlike Hans (who is revealed to have sympathetic qualities due to being tormented by his wicked father and brothers during his tragic childhood), Runeard is far more despicable as he is mainly out for the sake of gaining more power for himself.
- King Runeard is the only Frozen character with a body count as his battle caused several casualties for both Northuldrans and Arendellians, while he himself on-screen killed the Northuldran chief and dragged another Northuldran with him off a steep cliff to his death.
- King Runeard was entirely omitted from pre-release merchandise (except for the Junior novelization, which came out a week before the movie), hereunder the official storybook versions of the movie (all of which ended with the vague explanation that Elsa "found the truth" and nothing more), to shroud anything to do with his true role in the story to the theorizers. When Jeremy Sisto attended the premiere, many knew nothing of the character he was voicing.
- Runeard's plot of constructing a dam to greatly damage the Northuldran people is likely based on the real-life controversy in the 1960s-1970s, when the Nordic government proposed plans of building a hydro-power dam, which would've flooded villages and areas belonging to the indigenous Sámi people (on whom the Northuldrans are based).
- Despite being the main antagonist, King Runeard only had less than two minutes of screentime. In fact, out of all the main antagonists in the Disney Animated Canon, King Runeard has the shortest amount of time on screen. This makes his actions even worse as he made this much of an impact in such a short period of time.
- The author of Dangerous Secrets, Mari Mancusi, confirmed that even if Runeard had been made aware of the law that Rita wasn't legally required to marry him, he would've ignored it and forced her to marry him regardless, showing that he was willing to deprive Rita of her basic rights just to secure his power.
- King Runeard at the Pure Evil wiki.
- King Runeard at the Disney wiki.
- King Runeard at the Frozen wiki.