Well, Disney has churned out another gold nugget this year with "Zootopia", a film that tackles modern issues such as prejudice, diversity, etc. Having just crossed $500M worldwide and maintaining a "Fresh" score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film is shaping up to be one of the year's biggest successes thus far. So, it would only make sense that there would be a ton of sequel speculation going across the Internet. Heck, the filmmakers even discussed the possibility of a sequel BEFORE the film even came out. And even the film's main stars have discussed their gameness for doing a follow-up. Now, Disney has not officially announced anything at this point. The reason being that animated films take longer to make than live-action films, so fast-tracking a sequel to an animated film is not something that happens too often. Especially if it's Disney, a film company that more often than not shies away from doing theatrically animated sequels. But, the success of "Zootopia" coupled with the gameness of the directors and actors (along with the fact that Disney has just announced that sequels for "Frozen" and "Wreck-It Ralph" are in the works) signifies that a sequel is definitely not an impossibility.
However, amidst all of this sequel speculation, one of the more common things I have seen among fans is the possibility of a romance between the two leads, Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps. Now, this is not an illogical conclusion considering a particular banter scene between the two at the end of the film (and no, I won't give it away for those of you who haven't seen it). But, as is typical with the Internet or just life in general, not everybody is united on this particular subject. Some people think that it would be nice to see Nick and Judy wind up together in an eventual sequel while others feel that it would just be too easy and that the two leads should just remain friends. Now, me personally, while I definitely am one of the people who wouldn't mind seeing these two end up together, I can definitely understand the other side of the argument a bit. So, I'm just gonna play Devil's Advocate for a little while and state why a romance could possibly be detrimental.
One of the more obvious reasons, at least for me, is that a romance between Nick and Judy has the potential to feel very..."fanfictiony" for lack of a better term. Now, don't get me wrong; I like reading fanfiction just as much as the next guy, but there's a reason that I wouldn't want to see a film done in that way. Romantic fanfiction stories are not very well written and are usually very sappy and saccharine. Hallmark wishes that it could be as corny as these fanfictions. Every once in a while, you come across a well-written story, but for the most part, it's just playing to what the fans want to see ; hence, the term "fanfiction".
Another reason that it possibly couldn't work is because it probably would be a little too easy for these two to end up a couple. Like, they're only romantically involved just because they're a male/female duo in a film, and what else would a male/female duo be other than... friends (DUN,DUN, DUUNNN)? We are in an age now where the American audience is possibly growing tired of those kinds of clichés and are ready for something a little more fresh. And keeping Nick and Judy's relationship more akin to a deep friendship would probably be something along those lines.
The final reason that a romance possibly couldn't work is probably the most obvious; it's a fox and a rabbit! It would probably be asking a little much for an audience to suspend their disbelief that much. And yes, I understand it's a moot point to be talking about realism with a film where animals are walking, talking, and using cell phones. But, at least Zootopia somewhat kept to a certain biological realism in that all the romantic relationships we see are among the same species (like elephants with elephants, otters with otters, etc). Now, the directors have stated that interspecies relationships could possibly exist within the world of Zootopia, but as to how a general audience would react to seeing romantic relations between two different species of mammals is kind of up in the air.
Now that I have stated all the possible reasons why a romance couldn't work, let me state the number one reason why I think it can work: an allegory for interracial love. Interracial relationships are still a big hot-button issue for us in the US of A; no matter how open-minded we claim to be or how far we claim to have come, there are still families who are a little apprehensive about their children dating someone from a different ethnicity. And just like how Zootopia was a great allegory about the dangers of prejudice at an institutional level, doing a romance between Nick and Judy in an eventual sequel and showing how everybody reacts to it could be a nice little lesson, teaching kids that love is love and race shouldn't matter.
Now, I have stated that a romance between these two possibly wouldn't work because it would just feel too forced. And I am usually not a fan of when a romance in the film is put in there just because the two characters are male and female and for no other reason. However, if there has been sufficient chemistry set up between the two and it's acted well, then I can't complain. A good example is the romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Sure, it was very out of left field as the first film didn't really give any romantic indications between the two. But, the chemistry between them in the second film was sufficient enough for me to be on board with them. And that's exactly how I feel about Nick and Judy in Zootopia. Again, without giving too much away, the ending banter scene sets up enough chemistry between them and leaves thing just open ended enough that if there was going to be a romance, then it wouldn't feel forced or contrived.
Side note: as much as I wanna see these two get together, I do not wish for them to have offspring. I am sorry. I can suspend my disbelief enough to see a fox and a rabbit partaking in romantic activities (GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER, PERVS!), but not enough to see a fox/rabbit hybrid (or, as the directors jokingly said, "boxes and funnies").
All of this being said, however, if the romance doesn't work to serve the main story and distracts too much from it, then it shouldn't need to be. So, my suggestion would be to make the romance very subdued and make it a little side-plot to an even bigger story. Also, if you're gonna have a romance, build it up slowly throughout the film. As I said before, the ending to Zootopia left things just open ended enough for a romance to be possible, but not so open-ended to where the second film can just start off with Nick and Judy already in a romantic relationship. Besides, in my personal opinion, I like seeing a romance build up throughout and having the big kiss at the end be a culmination of all that buildup. However, mine is not the only opinion that matters, so take that for what it's worth.
Now, this is all hypothetical as, again, no sequel for Zootopia has officially been announced as of this moment. But, this is all just a potential way things could possibly happen if they do decide to do a sequel (as to whether or not they actually will announce a follow-up is another article for another day). So, take this opinion piece as...well, an opinion piece. Read it and draw your own conclusion. As for you, Disney, the ball's in your court on this one. I'll be happy either way (even though I wouldn't mind a romance).