The Original Plans For 'How To Train Your Dragon 2' And 'The Hidden World' Were Very Different

The How to Train Your Dragon series has become one of the most beloved and critically lauded animated franchises today, and its third film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, is set to bring the fantasy series to an end (and bring us to tears). But in another timeline, the final two films of the series could have looked drastically different.

Director Dean DeBlois revealed in an interview with /Film's Peter Sciretta that he had a different villain in mind in the How to Train Your Dragon 2 original plans. And that villain would have had repercussions leading into The Hidden World.

The Original Villain of How to Train Your Dragon 2

In the 2014 sequel, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) had brought peace between the dragons and humans thanks to his unbreakable friendship with Toothless. That peace was soon shattered by the emergence of Drago Bludvist, a ruthless warrior and dragon hunter who seeks to conquer the world with an army of dragons.

But in the original plans for How to Train Your Dragon, it would have been a different villain testing the careful harmony that Hiccup had created: his mother Valka. "Valka was originally meant to be the sympathetic antagonist of that movie," DeBlois said. "In other words, Hiccup met her in the same way that he did and was amazed by her to find out there's another dragon rider who's even more steeped in the world of dragons. But her fundamental core belief was that humans could not be trusted and that dragons needed to be protected from them."

In How to Train Your Dragon 2, Valka (Cate Blanchett) had returned as a dragon rescuer after having been thought long killed by dragons that had raided their village. But while she was unused to human interaction, she and Hiccup mostly got along — and she even amended her relationship with her husband Stoick (Gerard Butler) in a tender dance scene that was one of the standouts of How to Train Your Dragon 2. But in DeBlois' original plan, Valka would have clashed — perhaps violently — with "Hiccup's desire to teach people to get along with dragons." He told us:

"So toward the end of the original version of the second movie, she flew to Berk to extract the dragons to get them to safety. Because this unknown force to be reckoned with, Drago Bludvist was coming. But he really wasn't going to be a strong presence until the third movie. And it was Hiccup fighting his own mother to protect his way of life on Berk. And she leaves defeated but convinced that he will have to make a decision."

While the tearful reunion between Valka and her family was one of my favorite parts of How to Train Your Dragon 2, this original plan does intrigue me. It adds a personal twist for Hiccup and transforms the conflict of How to Train Your Dragon 2 into a grander philosophical one, rather than your typical "madman wants to kill the world." And it leaves the door open for the second film's eventual villain, Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), to come back in a more sinister capacity.

Leaving the Door Open for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

The villain in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is a ruthless dragon hunter named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) who wants to control the alpha dragon and create an army. Sound familiar? That's likely because DeBlois intended Drago to be the Big Bad of the third How to Train Your Dragon, which would see Valka changing her ways and becoming Hiccup's "strongest ally" in the face of Drago's invasion of Berk. But "that was fundamentally changed because really it was just the relationship of the mother was going to be problematic like with our audience in having young kids turning to their Moms and say, why is his mother fighting him?" DeBlois said. "Why is she taking away the dragons?" He elaborated:

"But the ambition originally was actually to have Drago arc in the third movie. He was going to have survived the defeat at the end of the second movie and find himself marooned on an island in a pile of wreckage with home to a very aggressive, territorial dragon that wanted to see him dead. And so once Drago realized that he had been succeeded in his own armada by this character named Grimmel, he was determined to get back there and reassert his position. The only way off the island was to befriend that dragon. And so it was this kind of headstrong tit for tat trying to figure out this how to earn the respect and trust with this dragon. And in doing so he develops this kind of this affection for it. So that when he finally flew into the third act battle he lands on the side of the Dragon Riders. And ends up showing some steps toward redemption."

But DeBlois doesn't regret changing the plans for How to Train Your Dragon 2. "It was just a story that was gonna require far too much care and feeding and time in order to do it right," he said. And worst of all, it took the focus away from Hiccup and Toothless, whose relationship was the backbone of the series. The third one brings it back full circle to them, with "Toothless and his call of the wild," DeBlois said. Regardless of the ending we could've gotten versus what we will get, there's no question that we're going to bawl when the credits roll.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World flies into theaters on February 22, 2019.