What do you think needs to happen in RTTE to make Hiccup as self-doubting as he is in HTTYD 2?
I’ve chatted about this before in depth, but because it’s been several seasons since I’ve done so, I’ll bring up some new points and thoughts, too - it’s about time to do that! First, though, mentioning the prior analyses:
- Hiccup’s intricate five year characterization
- Hiccup’s decreasing violent tendencies over the years
- The difference in Hiccup’s mentality between leading a small group of dragon riders and leading the entire village
- Hiccup’s characterization into being chief - and how believing “good chief” = being like his dad affects his restlessness
- Hiccup interacting with dragons during RTTE teaches him leadership, but he does prolong thinking about acting with adult-like responsibility for his tribe because of them
One of the things I think is important to consider is that Hiccup is not self-doubting everywhere by HTTYD 2 times. I have seen some people write fascinating analyses about Hiccup’s overconfidence in HTTYD 2, and I think there is a point to that: Hiccup is very confident that he can diplomatically reason with Drago, despite the fact Stoick says they must go to war.
So there’s a very fascinating nuance to Hiccup’s character by HTTYD 2. He lacks confidence in the respect that he doesn’t believe he would make a good chief. He has confidence in the respect that he believes he can convince a man without reason to reason with him… believes he can stop a war before it starts.
Hiccup’s lack of confidence in himself in HTTYD 2 is related to him transitioning into adulthood. We actually see some of that hesitation in the first episode of RTTE; Hiccup is bummed that his companions appear to be settling into more adult roles, and that there are fewer dragons he can hunt after and study for funsies. But the thing with RTTE is that Hiccup finds new dragons to study at the Edge… and thus can prolong his questions of rising adulthood. Hiccup can continue to be a bit of a kid on Dragon’s Edge. He doesn’t have to tackle the sobering question of “Who am I?” just yet in the show. But by the time of HTTYD 2, Hiccup must face the reality that he is going to be an adult, he must have a place among the people of Berk, and he’s not sure what that place is.
Now, it’s not to say that Hiccup is all games in RTTE. As we’ve seen, Hiccup can get rather serious when he’s confronting dragon hunters, enemies, and antagonistic dragons. Hiccup acts as a responsible leader and asks the other dragon riders to be responsible individuals, too. But there is something to be said that chasing after dragons is what inspired Hiccup in his childhood, and it’s what is inspiring his stay on the Edge. Hiccup is willing to be a leader in situations where he’s with a small, core group of companions - the dragon riders - and where he’s handling something that he voluntarily studies - dragons. He’s happy to pursue dragons and fight for dragons and help dragons… even if it’s dangerous and serious, it’s his personal choice of where he wants to be. And it’s where he’s been since he was a teenager, still a child among the Hairy Hooligans.
Hiccup doesn’t see leading Berk as the same thing. It’s not just chasing after dragons in his free time with his friends like he enjoys doing. Being a chief, as he points out at the start of HTTYD 2, involves giving speeches, handling all the people of the tribe… things Hiccup doesn’t feel like he’s done. Especially, it’s to note that, from HTTYD to ROB to HTTYD 2, Hiccup feels like “a good chief” is equated to “someone like Stoick.” Hiccup doesn’t think he has what it takes to lead Berk because he’s nothing like his father. It’s what he says at the start of HTTYD 2:
Hiccup: It’s not me, Astrid. All those speeches, and planning, and running the village… that’s his thing.
Astrid: I think you’re missing the point. I mean, chief. What an honor. I’d be pretty excited.
Hiccup: I’m not like you. You know exactly who you are. You always have. But… I’m still looking. I know that I’m not my father… and I never met my mother…. so, what does that make me?
Dean DeBlois made Hiccup wander throughout the Barbaric Archipelago to try to search for answers about who he is. Hiccup is restless about being an adult and what his future identity will be. Note that Hiccup going around traveling and searching is something he’s done when he was younger to have fun. But now, Hiccup realizes he cannot do that forever for fun… and he has to start seeking out a real, solid answer about who he can be for Berk.
So Hiccup lacks confidence in HTTYD 2 about being a chief because 1). he thinks he’s not appropriately “chiefly” like Stoick and 2). he considers his time on Dragon’s Edge child-like free time rather than being a responsible adult. We audience members see Hiccup has developed responsibility and leadership skills during his time at the Dragon Academy and Dragon’s Edge… but Hiccup doesn’t see it that way. He sees himself as staring into the wide, scary world of adulthood, leaving behind everything he’s been comfortable with, and forging into something he doesn’t think he has the nature or background to do.
All of this is already set up and developed decently enough in RTTE already. Ideally in the last season we might see Hiccup realizing he needs to transition into adulthood in Berk. At this point, Hiccup realizes that his fun vacation chasing after dragons is done. Just like the start of RTTE where Hiccup worries about his future and what he needs to do as an adult, so may RTTE’s end lead to HTTYD 2. Hiccup prolonged the question “Who am I?” when he went to adventure on Dragon’s Edge. But now he’s back on Berk and needs to figure out his place as an adult… not a kid going around having fun with dragons.
In truth, I think what RTTE has to do moreof is develop Hiccup’s confidence by HTTYD 2 times. We have to get to the point where Hiccup is confident about his diplomatic and peacekeeping abilities. Hiccup has to be so confident that he can change peoples’ minds about dragons that he believes he can convince Drago to halt an army.
There are multiple ways we can go about this. One of the things I have suggested in other posts is that we can write the story such that Hiccup receives experiences that make him more averse to violence. Hiccup actually becomes increasingly peaceful in his solutions with enemies from HTTYD to ROB to DOB to RTTE to HTTYD 2, which is in line with who he becomes by the second movie. But this should be developed further before we get to HTTYD 2 for the transition to occur seamlessly.
Either by seeing an unpleasant violent event happen that goes poorly… or seeing more peaceful events happen that go splendidly… can Hiccup become in tune with his beliefs by HTTYD 2 times. This way, Hiccup gets steered more towards the ideology he stands so firmly with in HTTYD 2 (to the point it’s impractical). If Hiccup tries to do something very violent and fails, he’ll remember his successful peaceful acts like convincing Stoick to befriend dragons. Then he’ll steer toward doing things like that by HTTYD 2 times. Or, if Hiccup does another peaceful, diplomatic act and it works, then that would reinforce his ideology that peace is the way to go. Anyone can be changed to be peaceful, so he believes.
We could maybe say that RTTE is helping that ideological path already. It all depends on their follow-up with Viggo events from S4′s finale. Hiccup might see how Viggo and Ryker’s violent antagonism led to unfortunate ends, and Hiccup emotionally might want to steer clear from doing anything like that himself. I don’t think the writers will go that way, but technically, it could be one way to reinforce the ideology he embraces by HTTYD 2.
So personally I think the ideal characterization to focus on for Hiccup is showing a little bit of his hesitance to enter Adult Land (thus showing his lack of confidence in himself being chief)… but also develop where he is confident. Hiccup needs to demonstrate confidence not in violent situations, but in diplomatic and peaceful ones, to seamlessly transition from RTTE to HTTYD 2. These situations ideally should to be extreme enough that Hiccup would prefer diplomatic conversation even above practical self-defense measures.
But even if the story doesn’t fill in all those gaps explicitly for us by S6′s conclusion, it’s probably going to be easy enough for us fans to interpret the material and fill in the gaps logically ourselves.