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Adult audiences who went with their kids to see the new film How to Train Your Dragon 2 might have been taken aback when Gobber the Belch (voiced by Craig Ferguson) commented the following after a dispute with the mother of the film's protagonist, Hiccup, "This is why I never married. That and one other reason."
While the movie itself never addressed this again one way or the other, the audience members paying attention probably thought to themselves, "Wait, does this mean that he's gay?" The movie may not answer this, but its director, Dean DeBlois, certainly has. He revealed that Gobber's potential reveal of his sexuality was indeed mentioned in this line.
Talking to Entertainment Weekly, the writer/director of the new sequel had the following to say about that specific line: “The nice thing that Craig brought to it is, it’s such a hand-off line that I think for the older members of the audience, it’ll take them a moment to realize, like, ‘Did he just say what I think he said?’ And then you’re moving on."
What DeBlois thought was important about this was that it was treated normally, and that the movie didn't make a big deal of the character's opened sexuality.
"[The movie] treats it like normalcy, and that’s what I really like about it," DeBlois said. "Because I’m a gay man, and I don’t draw attention to myself for that reason. It’s just a fact of who I am, and the way the world is, and it’s nice to treat it as just a passing notion that isn’t something that people have to get so up in arms about."
DeBlois went on to note that the line "makes people chuckle" and that, in each test screening they had for the film, the reveal always went over well. Continuing to note its subtlety, he went on to say:"I know there are probably a few people whose feathers it will ruffle, but you can’t worry too much about that. Particularly in 2014. It’s so prevalent out there, in TV shows and movies. It’s the norm, as it should be. I’m proud of it. It contributes to the daring and progressive quality of the storytelling of this [planned] trilogy.”
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is not the first big-budget animated movie to introduce a homosexual supporting character. The ending of 2012's ParaNorman revealed that Mitch, the jock character (voiced by Casey Affleck), was also gay. Of course, some social conservatives had issues with it, as Breitbart noted, with Mitch becoming the first openly gay animated character. However, thus far, no big fuss has been made of Gobber's sexuality.
With this in mind, when asked if DeBlois is now going to have a relationship in the next film, Deblois said that, "I haven’t really mapped out all the details going forward. I’m not quite sure. I think people get a little nervous about the idea that it’s suddenly going to become really graphic and a tangent. It’s never going to be that.”
How to Train Your Dragon 2 opened in theaters on June 13.
Image courtesy of INFphotos.com