Hiccup and Toothless: The Book Versus the Movie

For those of you who know me, you know what a huge How to Train your Dragon fan I am. I love the movie and the books even more than my kids and for a while, I had to hide how into a “kids” movie I was. In order to expand my style of writing, I thought I’d start doing little review pieces about movies I love, their connections to books, character descriptions, things that stood out in my mind etc. Here’s the first of what will hopefully be a regular series! 

DreamWorks’ blockbusting animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is loosely based on the book of the same name by Cressida Cowell. Apart from a few of the main characters and basic elements of the story, there are numerous differences between the book and the movie. A mere look at the main characters Hiccup and Toothless in the book versus their portrayal in the movie reveals the extent to which the movie deviates from the story in the book.

Hiccup and Toothless as Individual Characters

The character and appearance of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III in the movie closely resembles his description in the novel. He is a scrawny Viking from the Hairy Hooligans tribe, unusual because of his physical appearance as well as his intelligence. He is commonly teased and looked down upon by the other Vikings, just as in the beginning of the first movie. However, he owns two dragons, one named Toothless and the other Windwalker.

Toothless the dragon is drastically different in the book and the movie. While the film portrays him as a huge black Night Fury, the rarest and the most intelligent of the dragon species, in the book he is a tiny green and red dragon, believed to be a Common or Garden Dragon. Later on, he is found to be a young Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus. As his name suggests, he does not have teeth.

The Relationship Between Hiccup and Toothless

In the book, Cressida describes Toothless as a disobedient, selfish and ungrateful dragon, but very attached to Hiccup. The film portrays Hiccup and Toothless as best friends, sharing a great rapport and being in tune with each other’s needs and wishes. Toothless is very obedient in the movie, except when he thinks he has a better plan than Hiccup. While Toothless is small enough to sit on Hiccup’s arm in the book, he is a huge dragon that Hiccup loves flying on in the film.

Another important difference is the way that Hiccup and Toothless’ relationship evolves. In the book, the villagers of Berk have a tradition of capturing and training dragons, and Hiccup captures Toothless in order to train him in accordance with the rite of passage. However, Toothless’ disobedience gives Hiccup much trouble, and he finally figures out his own way to train the dragon.

The story of the film is entirely different, as the Vikings of Berk consider the dragons to be their enemies. Hiccup, in an attempt to prove his worth to the village, tries to shoot down a dragon. He successfully manages to strike a Night Fury, and goes looking for the injured creature in order to finish it off. However, when he finally finds the dragon, he is unable to bring himself to kill it. Finally, he sets the dragon free and even designs a makeshift tail for him when he realizes it cannot fly on its own. As Hiccup spends time with the dragon and helps it take to the skies once more, the two become good friends. Eventually, Hiccup manages to convince the rest of the village that Vikings and dragons can co-exist peacefully, and even teaches the others how to befriend and train dragons.

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3 thoughts on “Hiccup and Toothless: The Book Versus the Movie

  1. The films were sacrilege to the greatest children’s book series I have ever read
    If DreamWorks make How To Train Your Dragon 3 without making some serious gosh-darn improvements to their gosh awful films, I’m dropping a gosh powerful nuke on Dreamwork’s gosh corrupt studio
    they don’t deserve a penny for the garbage film they made!

    • I loved the films. I think the trick is to view them as separate franchises (a trick I learnt from being constantly disappointed by book turned movies). I also loved the animation, especially that of Toothless. He is, by far, my favorite character. I could watch him all day!

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