(spoilers from “Rise of the Guardians”, “Godfather”)
In “Rise of the Guardians” we see a set of events that proves that Jack Frost is of the two “gray cardinals” in the Guardians group. A gray cardinal is a person who stays in the shadows but manipulates the group, the whole group bends down to that person’s will.
While there may be multiple people in the same role, there can always be only one gray cardinal.
So, Jack Frost battles Sandman for that title and wins by trapping him in the battle with an enemy, becoming the gray cardinal in the group. But how could that happen in the first place? How could people in the Guardians group expect a very young chaotic kid to possess enough mental power to take over them?
Yes, you heard me correctly: mental power. We’re talking about intelligence and wisdom, as each person in the role has requirements to win the competition. And gray cardinal’s requirement is wisdom.
What can wisdom do?
Before we look into how Jack could even get that “superpower”, let’s take a look at how his intelligence skills proved him victorious in situations with every guardian:
1. Guardians’ offer
Jack Frost sees through the downfall of the offer. A person who’s been abandoned and ignored by everyone finally has an invitation into the “coolest group”, but refuses it.
Jack knows that Guardians never cared for him in the first place and must have something selfish to cause the change of heart. And he’s right. He’s only needed as a weapon against their enemy.
2. Santa’s mentorship
Santa has made multiple approaches to teach Jack and become his personal mentor. The most obvious ones were the “matryoshka” lesson and the conversation after Sandman’s death. In both cases, Santa posed as a person who can become Jack’s mentor.
Jack has refused that offer, by not acknowledging Santa’s mentorship, as a true mentor is selfless in his care for the student, while Santa wants to establish authority over Jack to tell him to join the Guardians.
Santa in the first talk: “What is your center?”
Santa in the second talk: “…in this life you’re a guardian.”
Jack escapes the conversation the second time, with that action confronting Santa on not giving the right answer, but a selfish one. Seeing through Santa’s intentions despite emotional background is a tough job, yet Frost nails it quickly.
3. Dealing with Bunny’s offense.
By nature, Jack and Bunny share a lot in common, being both on the chaotic destructive side, picking fights, and having a big ego. However, when the battle over their similarity starts, Jack shows what is different between them.
Jack: “Kids love what I do.”
Bunny: “But none of them believe in you, do they? You see, you’re invisible. It’s like you don’t even exist”
Jack: *nodding and smiling
Bunny throws in a serious offense, hitting Jack exactly at the spot where it hurts the most: he doesn’t have children’s faith. With that, Bunny thinks that he won, but he couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A normal person would’ve immediately thrown a punch at the selfish Bunny, who had the audacity to mock him. But we see in the video Jack’s reaction to that mocking.
Jack nods and smiles to the offensive remark, that is so tough that even Tooth Fairy interferes, being afraid that it was too much. Without too much thinking, Bunny throws the same offense the second time.
Bunny: “…people believe in me.”
And Jack only stays silent and sad, without trying to say anything.
We see that for the same features Jack shares with Bunny, he doesn’t provoke that fight, merely trying to “keep his face” with random and soft comebacks. Obviously, for Jack, it’s not hard to say something that would destroy Bunny as well. However, his replies are so careful that even a simpleton like Bunny managed to win that conversation.
But why doesn’t Jack fight properly?
Stupid people, like Bunny, believe that winning a talk-down battle is all that matters. Their battles are often all about an aggressive conversation. As if you humiliate your opponent enough, you’ll be the winner of the rivalry. However, that’s far from the truth, as words solve nothing and the victory in the battle doesn’t decide the victory in a war.
Smart people, like Jack, know that words don’t decide the winner, but actions do. Therefore, they see little point in winning the word argument. They are not fast enough to make threats either. We see that Jack easily loses the argument, but wins the war. He also doesn’t make a single threat, however fulfills it with an A+ effort. The moment Bunny, “whom people believe in”, starts to depend on Jack in his success, Jack immediately disappears and doesn’t show up, allowing Easter to be completely destroyed.
Bunny is humiliated. Unlike Jack, for real. Jack took his time to make his reply but his actions showed the answer: “Look at how it feels to have no children’s faith. Walk a day or two in my skin.”
Later, Jack will return his faith to the Bunny, but the lesson was taught. Bunny will not dare mess with Jack ever again.
How to acquire wisdom
As we see for a serious amount of time wisdom gave Jack the absolute advantage over people who tried to screw him either in secret or openly.
However, how come that Jack even had it in the first place? For we need to see what’s different between how Jack and other gray cardinals spend their time, what they did that was different, and compare that to the guardian’s lifestyle.
And the answer is here:
Jack Frost — the story of wisdom
Jack has spent 300 years, but we know that guardians lived even longer. So where is the difference? In the quality of time spent…
Jack spent 300 years… alone. He couldn’t be busy with work or any other distraction like other guardians, who got the job. He got thrown out. What does it mean? It means that things we people usually escape from were impossible for Jack. No people to talk to, no internet activities, no studies or job to escape into. What was Jack left with? One thing people escape into when there is no outside help: fantasies.
And we see that Jack engages with a lot of them: he talks to the “wind” back in the St. Petersburg scene, he talks to kids who can’t even hear. He then talks to the “Man in Moon”, who also never paid attention and didn’t reply for the past 300 years. So, Jack also escapes. But he’s having a much harder time doing that compared to the guardians who are overloaded with work. Guardians will later admit they don’t even have to work that much. All of them, one by one. So why do they work so hard, they don’t have the time to rest or see the kids? To escape the thought process.
But Jack can’t escape it forever, there are just not enough things for him to do for that. So he grows wiser, based on two factors. The solitude gives him the following:
1. Time to think and
2. No people to talk to instead of thinking.
Let’s take a look at the other two wise characters in the story:
Sandman — the story of wisdom
Sandman, who is the previous gray cardinal of the guardians. Previous also means weaker than Jack, since after Jack came into the group he died very fast. So Sandman escapes more than Jack since he’s older but weaker. Nevertheless, he became a wise manipulator as well. How did he spend his time?
Sandman works only half a day meaning that 50% of his time is free.
What about “not talking to the people”? Weirdly enough, we see that 100% of his time, Sandman doesn’t talk, just like Jack Frost. Jack has no people to talk to, but Sandman is mute.
Not being able to express yourself makes both characters retain their thoughts. And those thoughts, not being let out, age very well…
Vito Corleone — the story of wisdom
Let’s take a look at the outside example: “The Godfather” movie. Vito Corleone became a very wise leader of the mafia family. Why him and not other people, as there are many who would like to lead a powerful organization?
Vito Corleone was mute for most of his childhood. Following the trauma of his family being murdered, he decided not to talk. When Vito is a grown man, we see that he talks, but still very little. We don’t know how much time exactly he had in his childhood, but kids usually do have a lot of it. So here’s the same combination: time and solitude.
Gray cardinals who are among the society didn’t talk to become wise, and others just didn’t engage with others for various reasons.
Pitch Black — the story of wisdom
Finally, Pitch Black, the strongest gray cardinal in the story. He is the eldest character among everyone, being way older than “Man in moon” (who is even younger than Pitch’s daughter). He had thousands of years of existence, only matched by Sandman, but we also how much in solitude he was.
Most people think that Pitch was alone simply because he lost children’s faith and was banished. However, it’s not true. Carefully seeing into the Dark Ages we notice that Pitch rules that era alone. Meaning that during and after his reign Pitch was alone, always alone.
The only people he talks honestly with and addresses the most are the other gray cardinals in the story: Sandman and Jack Frost. He’s not interested in talking to anyone else much. Both factors are present and present more than in Sandman’s and Jack’s cases. So we must assume that has to do something with the fact that Pitch is the strongest cardinal.
The truth of life
So what did people see when they stayed alone and didn’t escape into any fantasies? The truth of life. But what can the truth about life be?
Due to the ways of human perception, the truth of life always starts with the truth about oneself.