How to Train Your Dragon 2 is all set to debut in theaters on June 17, and as we all know, it’s the second chapter of a trilogy, the Back to the Future 2 of the dragon-riding Scottish Viking saga. It’s the middle, tying the beginning to the end. But what ending is it working toward? Writer/Director Dean DeBlois gave a pretty big hint at the recent Hero Complex Festival in L.A. And by a pretty big hint, I mean he told us how he wants the whole thing to end. Warning: Major possible SPOILERS for How to Train Your Dragon 3 ahead, obviously, although I don’t think it spoils anything for HTTYD2.
Here’s what DeBlois said.
“When I was approached about a sequel, I said will you consider it to be the middle act of a three act trilogy? Therefore we’re not just inventing a random other adventure that you cast the same 5 or 6 characters into and graft on a problem that feels artificial. So by meeting Hiccup at this later stage of his life he’s now dealing with an organic and universal problem that many of us go through at that stage. But it is the middle chapter heading toward the culmination of Hiccup’s final coming of age.
“And the intention is to be very conscious of where we came from in the first movie and where we’re heading in the third. So I’ve been working on a running outline for sometime and I know we’re going to get to the point where Cressida Cowell books start which is Hiccup, as an adult, looking back on his life and saying ‘There were dragons when I was a boy.’ There’s something really powerful and emotional about that that hits you in the gut. And I think it could be bittersweet and beautiful. But how they disappear? What happened and what leads them to that point? That’s the stuff of the third movie. We’re always very conscious to make sure the threads we’re pulling forward are from the first film and paying off in the second are also embedding storylines for the third.”
I haven’t read the books, but “There were dragons when I was a boy” might rank up there with “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” in terms of wistful, elegiac first lines. And it sounds like getting Hiccup to that point would put the How to Train Your Dragon franchise on the same level as Toy Story in terms of children’s franchises that grow and mature along with the kids who watch them. And it makes me hope that the third movie will be as elegiac and emotional as Toy Story 3. But if you don’t think you’ll be ready to say goodbye to Toothless and his friends after just three movies, you may be in luck. The trilogy’s composer, John Powell, told Collider that we may get a quartet of dragon stories.
“I saw Dean in Cannes, we had a premiere of the film there, and he was very merry and a bit drunk and he sort of knew about [How to Train Your Dragon] 3 and I think it was mentioned to him by Jeffrey [Katzenberg] that maybe they would do 4. And that was definitely, I think, a real kind of eye-opener for Dean and for me because it’s like, ‘Hey I thought this was a trilogy?’ (laughs). So I don’t know, and it might be good because he’s got a lot of story left to tell, so maybe splitting it into two will work, but I just don’t know about that yet. I’m supposing that at the moment, Dean has an idea for the third one and he isn’t telling any of us yet.”
It makes sense that Katzenburg wouldn’t want to let a successful franchise end, but I hope he lets DeBlois do his thing. How to Train Your Dragon 2 got great reviews at Cannes, so hopefully he’ll realize that DeBlois has a good thing going and let him end this how he wants to.