OH MY GOD I JUST WATCHED THE MOVIE FOR THE THIRD TIME AN I REALIZED SOMETHING THE BEWILDERBEASTS REPRESENT STIOCK AND DRAGO NO BUT THINK ABOUT IT THE WHITE ONE IS A GOOD LEADER AND AN OVERALL GREAT GUY AND DIES RIGHT BEFORE STOICK AND THE GREY ONE LOSES HIS TUSK AROUND THE SAME TIME DRAGO'S METAL ARM FALLS OFF AND THEN THEY BOTH DISAPPEAR INTO THE SEA Okay I'm done
YES. I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice the Stoick/Drago vs. Bewilderbeast parallel the first couple of times I love it, but if there is one thing to be said about Dean’s directing style, he sure does love him some parallelism. I mean just with Hiccup’s character, you see that he’s trying to balance the person his dad would have him become with the person he would have been with his mother. I think that’s part of why feral!cup appeals to me so much, because it’s the same character tackling the same problem from a vastly alternate perspective. I adore the idea of two different universes cutting down to who Hiccup is at his core; it emphasizes his values.
But. Back to the rant.
Over the course of HTTYD (and, of course, HTTYD2), we’re presented with a ridiculous number of foils. If your high school literature teacher hasn’t yet taught you or didn’t teach you about foils, it’s basically just a fancy word for saying THIS character and THIS character are used to highlight each other’s similarities/differences. This movie is CHOCK full of them. From the very first scene, we see Hiccup drawing a clear line between himself and the other teens. Snotlout and/or Astrid are probably his specific foil, because they’re everything a Viking is supposed to be— strong, capable— and everything that Hiccup is not— including accepted by his village. Then you get the fishbone rant, and he basically paints the picture of what his dad wants. It’s Hiccup vs. the Hiccup Berk wants him to be. That’s the major plot thread running throughout the film.
THEN. If you break it down you find other, smaller details. For instance, Hiccup and Toothless. Both part of a culture, but neither quite fitting in. Hiccup because of “well, Hiccup”, and Toothless because of his new disability. They have to learn to work together, side by side, to eventually become (as Hiccup puts it in httyd2) “one”. I’ve mentioned this a couple of times before, but I really hate the cliff scene where Hiccup says, “I looked at him and I saw myself.” Because that felt like forced parallelism to me instead of so much of the actual parallelism that Dean included. Like, maybe I’m just missing something (I definitely don’t claim to be some sort of expert), but I don’t exactly get what part of Hiccup he was implying he saw in Toothless. Feeling trapped, maybe? The fear? The humanity? Either way, I think it could have been better fleshed out. The scene felt a little thrown together to me. But then in the end, we get that glimpse of Hiccup and Toothless walking out of the Haddock house. Toothless’ left tailfin and Hiccup’s left foot are gone. And that was the scene right there that sold me on httyd forever.
BUT. That’s not all. I think the strongest parallelism in httyd comes directly after the cliff scene. You’ve got Stoick the Vast and his men sailing through thick, almost opaque fog. Gobber approaches apprehensively, tells his chief that the men are afraid, that they want to know what the plan is. How does Stoick reply? “Find the nest and take it.” No strategy, no reassurance, nothing. Then we flash to Hiccup in the kill ring, approaching the dragon cages. The teens approach, obviously excited and enthused. Snotlout exclaims, “I love this plan,” and Astrid asks, “So, what is the plan?” And Hiccup smiles.
This, I think is the most powerful foil in the whole movie: Hiccup and his father. On the ship, you have the Vikings sailing into the unknown, led by a man so distracted by his bitterness that he can’t even see that his men are uncomfortable. Then on Berk, you have the skinny kid who they see as a traitor becoming a leader that his peers can trust and depend on. And then when they fly into battle, Gobber comments that Hiccup is “every bit the stubborn, boar-headed Viking [Stoick] ever [was]”. This is a foil that stretches into the sequel— Stoick sees no choice but war, and Hiccup almost blindly believes in peace. Hiccup’s whole issue with becoming chief in httyd2 is that he’s only ever seen his father in that role, so he only associates Stoick’s qualities with that role. He thinks he’s too different from his father to be able to become the effective, committed chief that Stoick has been. But, as we all know, that’s not all true.
But yeah, what I mean to say is— yes. The Bewilderbeasts were an awesome parallel for Stoick and Drago. Drago and Hiccup are two ends of a vast spectrum. Valka is an incredible foil for Stoick. And Dean DuBois has a little bit of an obsession.