Did you know How to Train Your Dragon 2 contains a very subtle scene where one of the beloved Vikings of Berk reveals he's gay?
??Even if you are one of the many who saw the animated adventure this weekend, you probably missed it. We certainly did. And we were looking, as the so-called "coming out" scene was teased by the hotly anticipated sequel's writer-director Dean DeBlois at the Cannes Film Festival. So, we got to wondering: what happened to it? You might suspect that DreamWorks got cold feet about potentially polarizing audiences in a societal climate that holds gay rights as a hot button issue. But the truth is more complicated, and less controversial.
First, some background. How to Train Your Dragon 2 made its world premiere at Cannes back in May. While promoting the pic at the prestigious fest, Dean DeBlois, who is himself openly gay, told E!'s Marc Malkin that Gobber, the goofy Viking voiced by Craig Ferguson, would be coming out in the sequel. DeBlois explained that the idea wasn't in the original script, but came from an ad lib Ferguson made in the recording booth. In the film, Gobber is witness to a married couple's heated argument. The line as written was "This is why I never got married." But from there, Ferguson riffed.
The original quote from DeBlois's E! interview is as follows:
"When we were recording Craig Ferguson, I had written the line, 'This is why I never got married,' and he, as he often does, added it as an ad lib and he said, 'Yup, Gobber is coming out of the closet…’ I think that's a really fun [and] daring move to put in. I love the idea that Gobber is Berk's resident gay."
DeBlois later told Fox News of the ad lib's inclusion, stating, "It’s progressive, it’s honest, and it feels good, so we wanted to keep it."
??But watching How to Train Your Dragon 2, it seemed this headline-snagging line had been cut or replaced with the far more subtle "That and one other reason." However, a source from DreamWorks tells us this isn't a form of studio intervention or censorship, just a major misunderstanding.
Reading DeBlois's comment to E!, you might well think that the ad-libbed line he's referencing is "Yup, Gobber is coming out of the closet." However, our source says that line was never in the movie, and the scene in question hasn't been altered. When DeBlois says, "he, as he often does, added it," the word "it" refers to the ad-libbed line, "That and one other reason." This ad lib by Craig Ferguson was meant as a nod to Gobber's sexual orientation/identity. "Yup, Gobber is coming out of the closet" was not the ad lib, but its subtext, explained by DeBlois when E! asked directly what Gobber's "one other reason" was.
Personally, I admire DeBlois's intention in keeping Ferguson's ad lib, though I'm disappointed that the line itself is so subtle that it is likely to be overlooked by most. Nonetheless, some might insist a children's movie is no place to discuss sexual orientation. But I'd argue that Gobber being gay in this context is not about sex, but about identity and difference. As the How to Train Your Dragon franchise is very much about the power of love, acceptance and overcoming prejudice, Gobber's coming out makes thematic sense. If Vikings can learn to love and accept dragons--who they once saw as enemies--how difficult could it be to accept that one of their rank is gay?
Did you notice Gobber's coming out?