This was NOT going to be my next topic because I was going to veer away from the young adult and cartoon genre for the time being, but this is also my blog and I get to talk about whatever I like. And if you know me, you know I LOVE the How To Train Your Dragon series.
The first movie came out 7 years ago, based off the book series that came out in 2004. I’ve talked before about my struggles with depression and anxiety, but I haven’t talked about the circumstances surrounding the first time I saw How To Train Your Dragon. My sister’s boyfriend at the time just asked her to prom, and to celebrate he decided to treat her, me, and my cousin who was in town, to a movie. The movie we went to see, was How To Train Your Dragon.
Now, my sister’s boyfriend was one of my high school bullies. He’s one of those people who still scares me to this day because of what a dark place he and his friends put me in. But something about this movie just connected with me on a deeper level.
For years, I thought I was alone in my deep love for this movie, but two years later, Cartoon Network made a deal with Dreamworks for a tv show. They made two seasons, and after the show was done, Dreamworks released the long awaited sequel movie.
Shortly after the second movie came out, Netflix announced that it had made a deal with Dreamworks to follow up the show with more seasons. Netflix just released their fourth season at the end of February. Unfortunately, Dreamworks also just announced that there was another delay on the third movie, and its release got bumped back to 2019, 9 years after the first movie was released. But the good news is that Netflix is still making more episodes of their show for the foreseeable future.
That makes a total of 12 books, 3 movies and at least 6 seasons of tv. I don’t know about you, but I think that qualifies the series as a success. So now it’s time to ask, why so successful?
Characters: The original movie focuses on a misunderstood, seemingly unskilled viking named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the son of the chief. His whole village is constantly threatened by dragons, and a viking’s skill is measured on their ability to fight and kill dragons. Hiccup, small for his size, is not strong enough to fight dragons, but is relentless in his attempts to try and fit in. Unfortunately, those attempts usually end in disaster. The other main character of the story is Toothless, the Night Fury, who loses his ability to fly after he is shot down by Hiccup.
Setting: Berk, a village that has been around for more than 300 years, but is constantly being rebuilt because of the dragon problem.
Conflict: There are a few major conflicts- Hiccup vs. his dad, Berk vs. the dragons, and the training competition. Hiccup is constantly in conflict with his dad and the rest of the vikings on Berk because Hiccup is constantly trying to prove himself as a viking based on how Berk views a viking’s worth- a viking’s ability to kill dragons. Hiccup does not want to kill dragons, but he’s still stuck in competition with the other trainees to see who is the best at killing dragons. Meanwhile, Berk is constantly fighting off dragon raids.
Plot: Trying to prove his worth as a viking, Hiccup shoots down a Night Fury and goes to kill it and bring the heart of the dragon to his father. But Hiccup finds himself unable to kill the Night Fury, and instead releases it. He later discovers that the Night Fury’s tail was injured and the dragon can no longer fly. While he learns more about dragons in training, he uses his knowledge to approach and befriend the Night Fury, which he names Toothless. He rebuilds a tail piece to help Toothless fly, and he starts to succeed in training by using his knowledge to avoid hurting the dragons he fights. When he wins dragon training and has to kill a dragon in front of the whole village, he tries to leave on Toothless, but discovers the dragon’s nest, where he learns that the dragons are basically enslaved by the Green Death to bring it food. He tries to show the village that you don’t have to kill dragons, but it goes wrong and Toothless is discovered and captured. The vikings take Toothless to lead them to the nest so they can destroy it and get rid of the vikings. Hiccup recruits the other teens and they fly dragons out to help fight the Green Death. After the Green Death is defeated, dragons move onto Berk.
Theme: One of the most common lines in the first movie is for Hiccup to stop being all of himself. But it’s later contradicted when they tell him to stop being something he’s not. Confused by this mixed up advice, Hiccup finally discovers how to be himself when he befriends Toothless, and he uses this new relationship to better Berk and finally be accepted by his fellow Berkians. It isn’t until Hiccup learns to accept himself that he is accepted by others.
It’s a seemingly familiar young adult story, but it’s told with adorable dragons and witty dialogue. The idea of training dragons is pretty unique to this story, and it’s always a nice lesson to realize that your enemies can become your friends when you take the time to truly understand them. It’s also nice because there’s always dual storylines that always fit together to make the story complete. That’s the sign of a well-written story. Plus, adorable dragons always help. Seriously, I think the success of this franchise relies heavily on the cuteness of the dragons.
The second movie follows that theme as Hiccup struggles to find balance between what he wants to do and what is expected of him by his father and his village. But it also leaves us on a cliffhanger when he becomes Berk’s next chief, despite his reservations about being able to do so. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the final movie, to see how the main character adapts to his new situation and adapts his new situation to himself.
There’s still more coming from this series, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Hopefully more dragon gifs.
Anyway, tell me what you think is so successful about this series in the comments. Or even share what you think isn’t successful. And share some ideas of movies and tv shows that you want to see me analyze!