How to Train Your Dragon 2 was loved by audiences as a fitting sequel to the hugely successful first film, continuing the story in an exciting and courageous way with its tragic moments and themes of betrayal. But despite the positive critical response, the film performed badly at the box office, and its financial troubles caused How to Train Your Dragon 3's release date to be pushed from 2016 to 2018. Never fear though! The third installment is definitely still going ahead, as the films have always been conceived as a trilogy. In fact, writer/director Dean DeBlois had some exciting revelations about how the second film fits into the series...
“There are certain characters and situations that come into play in the second film that will becomes much more crucial to the story by the third. Other threads from the first will begin to pay themselves off in the second. It's my way of guaranteeing that it is not another adventure that we throw the same five or six characters into, that it feels like part of a larger story.”
He went on to confirm that two new major players would return for the third film: expect to see both Hiccup's mother and Drago who is becoming "a lot more complex."
And we also have a MAJOR plot detail confirmed from the books! So if you want How To Train Your Dragon 3 to take you by surprise, stop here, for here be spoilers...
But here be no dragons
For anyone who's read the books, this is old news. The very first novel by Cressida Cowell begins with an older Hiccup looking back on a time when dragons actually did exist and, in How I Met Your Mother style, relating what happened to make the beasties disappear.
So sit down kids, cos here's the story of how I m- sorry, how the dragons vanished. DeBlois confirmed that despite the movies diverging from the book plot, the ending would be the same, in a world now bereft of the glorious fire breathing monsters we came to love.
"We’re gonna take the story to where the books begin, which is Hiccup as an adult reflecting back on a time where there were dragons, suggesting that the dragons will in some way go away. Why and could they come back and the mystery of what all that is will be saved for the actual story."
From one tragedy to the next... How To Train Your Dragon 3 will apparently also focus on a parting of ways between Hiccup and Toothless. "Oh no!" I hear you cry. "It's going to be another Toy Story 3!" Well, you better go to the cinema equipped with tissues because with Hiccup and Toothless as chiefs of their respective tribes, the third coming of age tale will see the two friends finally break up. Whether this will be because Toothless falls prey to the same blight that causes the dragons to disappear remains to be seen. But thanks to the books, we have some idea of what might be in store for Berk come 2018!
Pirates, war, and more!
There's plenty to be mined from the books. With eleven volumes (and counting!) there is plot galore, and the film creators can pick and choose what to include in their version of the story. Here's some things we'd like to see in the movies...
Pirates! They play a pretty big role in the books, as Grimbeard the Ghastly is Hiccup's great great grandfather. His legacy is important to continue, and it would be great to see some pirate action in glorious CGI 3D.
Speaking Dragonese... Yes, in the books the characters can actually talk with the mythical beasts, as long as they learn how. This is something Hiccup's ancestor learned how to do, so maybe Hiccup of movie-land could finally speak to Toothless in his own language! Or not. Their wordless communication is one of the subtly sweet joys of the films, so although this might be included in How To Train Your Dragon 3, we'd be ok if it weren't.
Alvin the Treacherous: He could well be our villain in the next film! After struggling with Hiccup through many of the books, Alvin finally challenges the dragon rider to the title of King, prompting Hiccup to go on a hero's quest as the humans plunge into war with the dragons. Which leads us to our final point...
- Dragons vs Humans! This is the final climax to the book series, and presumably the reason all the dragons disappeared. In a brutal battle that spans all the lands the book characters encounter, dragons and humans fight it out, while Hiccup tries to find a solution in exile. An upsetting plotline indeed.
So will we see war in HTTYD 3?
While this does seem in tune with the sober nature of the threequel's proposed plot, it would feel a bit... backwards. After all, humans vs dragons is exactly how the film series started, and it would be odd to undo all of Hiccup's good work throughout the films. We know the dragons are going to disappear, but as epic battles were featured in the two previous films, this plot choice would definitely be tracing over paths already trodden. So what are the other options? A deadly virus or the rise of technology in an advancing modern world? For now we'll just have to wait and see. At least we can always re-watch the first two films, and bask in the heartwarming friendship between Hiccup and Toothless (while it still exists)!