nick original movie

Zootopia: John Wilde, Shock Collars, & more

It’s always interesting to think of all the coulda’ beens when looking back all the ideas that didn’t make it into the final cut of the movie and Zootopia is no different. In fact so many are so dramatic I felt like addressing a few.

Shock Collars

Undoubtedly the most iconic feature cut was the aspect of every predator being forced to wear a collar that would shock them if they ever experienced heightened emotions, whether that be positive or negative. Concept art also seems to show police being able to activate a collar at will as well as being able to take them off. Test audiences couldn’t really get behind Zootopia being someplace worth saving with such blatant inequality so the idea reluctantly (very reluctantly) got the axe. I think we can all agree that no matter how intriguing the collars are, they made the right choice.

“Could it have been in the movie?”

I believe it could have, but not from the get go. Instead shock collars could have come in after the predator crises had scared the populace into supporting brash actions. Bellwether implementing the policy during the montage sequence and our story can continue from there. The issue is that in order to give the action some weight we need to add at least 30 minutes to the movie as a whole to make sure the shackles aren’t (from the audience’s perspective) comically broken two minutes after they’ve been put on. There is plenty to be said about what exactly I would have done with 30 more minutes but that’s for another time.

“Could we see it in another movie/show?”

The problem stands that trying to re-implement the concept is that it would essentially be recycling the first movie’s message and no one wants that. That being said I see a couple possibilities.

Well the past can be the key Mr.Anon but consider this alternative. Instead of a cover up they’ve simply gone unmentioned until this point.

My Headcanon: Zootopia’s version of World War 2 focused around the revitalization of a predator empire that would overthrow the herbivores who “ruined” their once great civilization and were now “the oppressor”. While war waged, herbivores at home felt unsafe around predators in their own nation. So they were rounded up into camps and shock collars were implemented. By the war’s end the atrocities of predators and  hypocrisy of prey were laid bare and stirred animals  to want a world where such would never happen again. Thus the model city of Zootopia was born, where everyone could live in harmony and (hopefully) not be judged by their species.

Second, Zootopia 2 can up the ante with an even more dangerous villain, which kind of goes without saying but I’m talking beyond what two cops would be expected to or could even solve. Consider, for instance, that the country in which Zootopia is located in is invaded and occupied by a foreign and malevolent power so shock collars are implemented as a way to control the populace. In this instance even non-predators could be subject to shock collars as perhaps the occupiers are of racially homogeneous in some way (Birds, Lizards,[ Primates ]) and see everyone as a threat.

In that case shock collars become an intriguing facet with where exactly Nick & Judy, as police officers, stand in their enforcement of the law. Sure they could (in fact inevitably would) join some sort of resistance force: but having to take on the roll, at least for a time, as enforcers of a puppet state intrigues me. After all, even in the midst of an invasion, in fact especially in the midst of an invasion, public order needs to be maintained. Especially intriguing is the whether or not police themselves would be subject to collars or be the “trusted” few. 

John Wilde

In order to build more empathy for our then protagonist Nick Wilde there was a rather decent chunk of movie dedicated to his backstory. A collection of scenes involving Nick’s father built him as an encouraging optimistic man wanting to create a better future for his family by opening a tailoring shop with his son at his side. Unfortunately none of the bankers were interested in giving a fox a loan and this endeavor failed. Where exactly his father disappeared to by the time we catch up to adult Nick, I cannot say.

“Could it have been in the original movie?”

Certainly I feel that having Nick see the way both himself and his father are treated wouldn’t have hurt the story: having Nick stand up only to be knocked down in another scenario would only have added to Nick’s strength of character and understanding his embrace of the stereo-type. Perhaps the question it raised about his parent’s whereabouts is why we got only a muzzled Nick instead. The scenes of his father as presented would have also been a lot longer than the backstory we received in the movie proper. Especially if we consider using both backstory threads, such a long detour might have felt awkward.

“Could we see it in another movie/show?”

In any instances Nick just coming out and saying “By the way my childhood was even more terrible” would feel like a re-hash of what we already know. John Wilde himself could always make an appearance, but his role in the story is now hamstrung. It all depends on how much focus you want to put on John, if he is just a doddering old parent like Mrs.Wilde than nothing really bad would come from his insertion. If he is still a tailor and living with Mrs.Wilde for instance, than the question the audience is going to ask is why didn’t this professional father do more to lead his son down a good path?

Sure, we could have a sub-plot about him always wanting to open his own tailoring business but being unable for the reasons stated above (thus we have a potential plot about our protagonists see that to fruition). Yet again that would almost certainly mean bringing up the dim past and we run into the same problem of it sounding like tack-on than a natural part of Nick’s story. It’s not impossible, but it could be clunky. Could.

If for whatever reason John Wilde disappeared from Nick’s life, however, well that’s a whole new can of worms. Is he a deadbeat? Did he go looking for work after his business didn’t take off? Was he falsely arrested for a crime because he was a fox? Things to consider.

Honey Badger

Way back when Nick Wilde was set to be a framed man, he had a eccentric female badger friend whom held tight to the conspiracy theorist archetype by being a bunker building, tin-foil hat wearing loon, something that came in handy when Nick & Judy were on the run.

“Could it have been in the original movie?”

Oh no, negative, absolutely not. You see Honey’s particular conspiracy was that “The Sheep” were behind everything wrong with Zootopia. While I’m pleasantly amused with the character concept, in actuality had they gone through with implementing her, this blog might have been about how terrible Zootopia is. Ooo drastic, but why?

Well if there is one detail that I’ll rake Zootopia across the coals for it’s the fact all Bellwether’s co-conspirators (who actually knew what was going on) were sheep. You might say that plays into her personal bias, still I’d like to remind you that her scheme was to put prey against predators in general.  Simply stated the last major script change, probably by accident, saved Zootopia from winning “Greatest Movie with a Hypocritical Message” award. Think about it, in that version of the script and even to an extent in canon, Honey was right. The Sheep were to blame.  So how can you have a message about not stereotyping people, then have group of people singled out as the “problem” race?

“No, no, it’s ridiculous to say predators are dangerous to society…when it’s the sheep manipulating everyone!”

I’m certain we’ve all seen some humanized artwork of Zootopia, so let’s stretch our creative muscles and think about who exactly Honey would be in a human world. Well she is a conspiracy theorist, which is fine enough, but it’s her particular brand that should get you sweating. I’m talking she’s a Zionist conspiracy nut. Yea, it’s that bad. This is no alien cover up or Bermuda triangle, this character explicitly preaches that there is one race that controls the world from the shadows and has been doing so for generations. That they sow discord and strife to maintain and increase their own power.

Funny but actually incredibly offensive.

I’ll be bold and say that there is a time and a place for this type of a comedic character but she is basically shouting “JEWS!!!” at the top of her lungs while snipping a Hasidic man’s locks and pouring tie-dye on his  plane clothing before riding off in a go-cart, throwing shekels on the ground as a distraction. Not exactly the type of person who should ever be shown in a positive manner, let alone a friend of the main character, let alone f-cking right!

“Could we see it in another movie/show?”

Simply changing her shtick to almost any other type of conspiracy or conspiracies would do the trick. Just be careful you’re not just switching out sheep for another scapegoat. *Ba-dum-tsh* Beyond that, having the Odd One be a burly female is rather unique and her paranoid personality is sure to get a good number of laughs. If Zootopia had the chance at syndication I would definitely make her a frequent side-character.  

Wild Times

That’s racist Nick.

In some incarnations Nick would have been the owner of an amusement park where the shock collared predators could let loose away from the dominant prey. Nick is then framed for a crime and our story begins.

“Could it have been in the original movie?*”

Nick was at least a semi-successful business owner in this incarnation (though at two hundred dollars a day, I’m sure I’m not the only looking to get into the paw-psicle business) and on that point it’s hard to keep our two leads together (which is why they were hand cuffed together in the other script).

The problem is that Nick’s character arc revolves around him having been beaten down and fallen into a cynical stupor, sure he can maintain his smarmy personality but as a business owner Nick already gave a big middle digit to the world that doubted what a fox could accomplish. Not to mention throwing that away to become a police officer doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So with it being no more than an interesting backdrop for any given scene, it really didn’t need to be included. 


“Could we see it in another movie/show?”

*Now Wild Times is technically canon, and might have even made an appearance in the film itself. Yet I’m not giving up on the idea that it could be linked to our characters in some way. Admittedly the odds of it ever playing a prominent roll are unlikely. I can’t really see Nick Wilde (and by extension Judy Hopps) retiring to take up renovating a run down amusement park as his life’s dream. Not exactly what I call taking it easy in the golden years though I would be in error not to bring up the possibility. So movie wise, no. But for T.V we can play around it all day. Imagine instead if Finnick secretly wanted to run the amusement park. What if it was or became predator only and we have to deal with discrimination against prey animals? What if John Wilde works at Wild Times and dreams of opening that tailor shop? To think if Nick saw his father pursue his life’s goal only to end up as a carnie. A good backdrop.

Chez Cheese

At one point in time Nick & Finnick were to work at a fast food joint named Chez Cheese, assumedly named after the owner. The story obviously changed too much to keep it.

“Could it have been in the original movie?”

Not really. Nick as a sly paw-psicle hustler has a lot more meat to it than a depressed fast food worker. I suppose amongst the litany of bad life experiences, a literally five second narrated scene of them being fired for predator related reasons would have done but beyond background candy there isn’t much to it.

“Could we see it in another movie/show?”

The one interesting question Chez Cheese does raise is how exactly non-rodents worked there. The concept art just shows it as rodent sized, so how did Nick & Finnick accomplish their duties (as a cheese scrubber & drive-thru orderman respectively)? It might have been bigger in the screenplay…but it’s funnier to imagine scenarios where that is not so.

In any case it’s not too difficult for Nick & Finnick to have had a job at this place at some point in the past. Lore Alert: In the book “The Stinky Cheese Caper” Chez Chees is actually canonized and firmly stated to be inside Little Rodentia with a warehouse outside the micro-city. So while having them work at the restaurant may be impractical, the warehouse could be another venue, perhaps where Finnick phoned in to the drive-thru. Not really movie worthy (heck I don’t even remember the doughnut venue’s name) but I could a see a scenario where a crime has Nick engaging with his old grouchy boss, wherein Nick can be smug, bitter, or both.

There are more topics to cover, but I think this is long enough and we call it a day for now.