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‘Snow White and the Huntsman 2′ Plans: Where Should the Sequel Go?

Snow White
Universal Pictures

Snow White and the Huntsman’ made a surprisingly impressive box office debut this past weekend, but the verdict on whether it’s actually a good or bad take on the classic fairy tale is up in the air.

A follow-up is indeed in the works (surely being fast-tracked now that the first is such a success), and given Hollywood’s mindset there is likely some truth to the presumption that ‘Snow White and the Huntsman 2’ would sadly concentrate more on the love triangle and start morphing into another ‘Twilight‘ rip-off.

Movie critics lean negative on ‘Snow White’ while moviegoers lean positive, and though the general Medieval ‘Matrix’ plot and the casting of such an unladylike star as Kristen Stewart are both major elements of contention, it’s the movie’s ending that has spawned the most interesting debate.

Many are leaving ‘SWaTH’ disappointed with the lack of romantic closure, or traditional “happy ending,” because the final scene depicts the coronation of Snow White (Stewart) as the sole ruler of the kingdom, and that’s it. There is no wedding, either between Snow and her childhood sweetheart, William (Sam Claflin) or Snow and her title-mate, who is named Eric (Chris Hemsworth). There’s not even any certainty that she is headed in the direction for one fate or the other.

This gutsy, feminist-tinged ending is as impressive as the stylish environmentalist-themed visuals. But some are complaining that this is simply a set up for a sequel.

Do we really need another franchise in which Stewart is divided between two hot guys? Is Universal really going to rip off ‘Twilight’ to play up the concepts of Team William (aka Team Prince) and Team Eric (aka Team Huntsman)? And is there really any interesting dramatic direction for the ‘Snow White’ story to go once the evil queen is dead? Questions regarding what happens next may always be asked by a film’s fans, but that doesn’t mean a sequel needs to answer them.

The same issue is plaguing some criticisms against ‘Prometheus,’ which hasn’t opened in the U.S. and so shouldn’t be discussed in full just yet. Viewers are annoyed with the movie ending in a way that seems to them as being a cliffhanger. But the inconclusive final moments of ‘Prometheus’ are entirely appropriate to the main thesis of the movie, regardless of whether Fox wants to or will develop the story further with sequels. It totally works as an independently framed narrative on its own, provided you stop thinking too much about the context of the movie industry.

Yes, most movies of these kinds are going to be left open for a sequel, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily set up to be continued. Think of any blockbuster movie where the protagonists aren’t killed off at the end. It probably “leaves room for a sequel,” whether there was or will be one or not. It’s been suggested that the current popularity of serialized television is influencing the way film franchises are developed, but honestly there isn’t much of a change from the way things have been for the past couple decades.

The ending of ‘SWaTH’ is perfectly fitting to the film and the character. Snow White is never really dependent on the men in her life, except of course for the Huntsman’s spell-breaking kiss, which is the one part of the movie they get completely wrong. Going with the original Brothers Grimm version, in which the poisoned apple is dislodged from Snow’s throat while her body is being moved, would have been proper. She seemed to be fine escaping the castle and surviving the Dark Forest and eventually defeating Ravenna (Charlize Theron), if only because she’s the Christ-like “One.” And while there is some minor chemistry with Eric, he barely grows as a character, ultimately remembered as the drunken Madmartigan type, only more damaged because he’s a widow who apparently just sat by and let his wife die at the hands of the queen.

Meanwhile, we can accept William, who in another tale would be the Westley to her Buttercup, as both an accidental deserter and unfortunately a falsely suggested betrayer. Even if forgiven by the fact that her assassin was actually Ravenna in disguise, the Prince’s image is certainly damaged in Snow’s mind, at least for a while. And anyway, if he is indeed a Prince, he may also be her cousin, which implies a sort of creepiness regardless of how far removed the relation. If it wouldn’t hurt her right to the throne, they could later be revealed to be siblings as a ‘Star Wars’-like way of dissolving the love triangle.

At the end of ‘SWaTH’ Snow determines neither man worthy of sharing her throne, that she likes being alone and independent. And for now we get to believe this, while you may choose to believe she later gets together with either Eric or William. Or maybe she actually goes for Greta (Lily Cole)! If a sequel ruins our initial imagination of where the story goes, it’s no more upsetting than the countless sequels that ruin a prior happy ending by having the series hero and his/her love interest broken up between films. But just because a movie receives a follow-up doesn’t mean we can’t isolate that first movie in our minds and see it and remember it the way we wish.

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