Zootopia 2 –The Case For WildeHopps

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By now, most of us have seen the Disneycember video, in which Doug Walker said that,  while he thought Zootopia was ‘okay’, it wasn’t ‘great’  His main criticism of the movie stemmed from the fact that he thought it was too heavy handed (pawed?) in its allegorical depictions of racial stereotypes as species stereotypes.  (This is actually par for the course as messages go in Disney animated feature.  A critic whose name escapes me at the moment, once summed up Disney animated movies as films with a ‘now hear this!’ message. )

That was his opinion when he first saw the film, but according to the Disneycember video, Mr. Walker has since come to revise that opinion.  Given the (numerous) instances of race hatred we’ve been seeing on the news and elsewhere, he now says that Zootopia needed to ‘nail it on the head’.’

While I appreciate that sentiment, I personally believe the movie didn’t quite nail it down; there was one area left unexplored…one that I think it should absolutely be addressed in the sequel.

I once had someone very close to me, someone who was one of the most enlightened, open-minded people I ever knew.  He firmly believed in the equality of all men, and was thoroughly progressive when it came to the subject of race relations.  He even once suggested to me that Martin Luther King would have made a great President of the United States.

So, imagine my surprise—and shock—when we were driving down the road one day and came upon an interracial couple, walking together and holding hands.  Without missing a beat, he turned to me and said, “That’s just wrong.”

And that’s the part that was left untouched in Zootopia…and we’ve all known people like this, folks:

“You want to go to my church?  Nooo problem.”

“You want to visit my house?  Sure, come on in.”

“You want our kids to go to school together?  Hey, why not?”

“You want to join my team?  Love to have ya, brother.”

But that’s as far as it goes….

“You want to marry my daughter?   Stay with your own kind, pal!”

I can easily imagine Bonnie and Stu Hopps taking that line.  “Look, we’re perfectly happy to have a fox as a business partner…but as our daughter’s life partner?  NOT!  HAPPENING!”

Sad but true folks, this is the place where so many supposedly enlightened people draw the line, ‘we can be friends, but that’s ALL we can ever be.’

And it’s a line that needs to be erased.  This is why, in my opinion, there needs to be a Zootopia sequel and that in the next film Nick and Judy should come together in a relationship that goes beyond simple friendship.  The first Zootopia did a spectacular job of addressing the subject of racial stereotypes without getting preachy…but there’s still so much more to talk about; the first step towards dealing with that line in the sand is acknowledging it’s there.

That is not to say I want Zootopia 2 to be some kind of bully pulpit on race relation; the first film didn’t work that way and I wouldn’t want the sequel to be like that either.  Just the same, I think the subject should be explored…and for that we need Wildehopps to happen.

Just my opinion.

Merc Marten
Team Leader, http://zootopianewsnetwork.com

24 Comments

  1. Exactly. Not only do we need Judy and Nick to get together since they’re perfect for each other, but it would also help define with the message!

  2. I agree. Judy and Nick would have made for a potential modern day Mickey and Minnie Mouse, except as an inter-species couple whose relationship reinforces the overarching themes of Zootopia. Here’s hoping Doug Walker does a Nostalgia Critic editorial on WildeHopps, probably for Valentine’s Day.

  3. Nick and Judy are meant for each other in so many ways. Even their colors are complimentary. I just hope Disney can work out a great story to make it canon without going overboard. Just let it happen at a natural pace, building on the great chemistry they already have. With the warmth they’ve had as friends, I’m willing to bet they would have a very strong bond if they were to start a relationship.

    I’m also curious how things would go at the ZPD. Would they be allowed to work together as long as they are the same rank? I’ve always had the headcanon that if one were to get offered a promotion, they wouldn’t take it unless they could stay together. It would be awesome if Nick and Judy would end up making history by being the most effective team at solving crimes, to the point that Bogo would never separate them.

    • Over at tvtropes we did some research and found that the official policy of patrol officers dating each other varies considerably between police departments. There is no universal policy.

      The only consistent restriction is that a superior officer can not date someone below them in the chain of command (so unfortunately that requires any Bogo/Clawhauser shippers to transfer Bogo or Clawhauser out of precinct one).

      It seems the restrictions on officers dating is a bit more relaxed between detectives than patrol officers so that would be great career path for a romantic Nick and Judy.

      • It would be awesome to see them working together as detectives. They seem like the type that would be serious when the job needs them to be, but would also have some great playful banter when things are more relaxed.

        • I agree and think the two together would form a great deductive “mind”. Judy would be detail-oriented and have the full knowledge of the laws. Nick would be more big picture and bring “out-the-box” thinking as well as his street-smarts. Also, as Detectives, their small physical size wouldn’t be an issue to being assigned cases where as patrol officers there are some situations it wouldn’t make sense for small mammals to try and handle.

      • Where exactly did you do this research? Every actual cop I’ve talked with says that it’s pretty much universal for any dating within a precinct to be off-limits, even if it’s between an officer and a support crewmember (say, a mechanic who works for the department or something).

  4. By the end of Zootopia, Nick and Judy were about as close as two mammals can get without romance being involved. I don’t think the relationship can grow any further without it becoming romantic.

  5. Hello, Being African American I can give a personal account To keep this place and comments civil if you want to hear it I’m on the discord server I go by MayotheBear

  6. Two issues. First is that Zootopia wasn’t focused on racial stereotypes but rather the broader and more insidious issue of bias both personal and societal and how it leads to stereotypes, prejudice and profiling. The creative team actually didn’t want to focus on any specific racial analogs in the story. Look for the documentary “Imaging Zootopia” for a more detailed explanation of the film’s use of bias.

    Second is that Zootopia already features a married, inter-species couple in the form of Bucky and Pronk and they happen to be a same-sex couple as well. (Confirmed by Jared Bush in a tweet back in Nov 2016).

    Bucky is Kudu and Pronk is an Oryx. They belong to the same Zoological order but are different species.

    While the sequel could explore, with Nick and Judy, how society would deal with an inter-order relationship, there is already a little precedent for some acceptance of cross-species relationships.

  7. One of the reasons I ship WildeHopps is that I think it could make for an excellent allegory for homosexual couples. As a couple Nick and Judy could face things like family objections, difficulty getting married and an inability to have children naturally, something homosexuals (and interracial couples for the first two as well) have long dealt with.

  8. I made a comment a while back to another forum that I always found it interesting what things they leave out of movies. In the case of Zootopia not once do you see an instance of a multi species couple however apparently nudity (and who knows what else) in a naturalist club is perfectly okay by at least some segment of the population

    • If you know what to look for, it seems like you’ll find “some segment of the population” that’s okay with just about anything, so that doesn’t say much. Honestly, I still can’t watch the Mystic Springs scene. I have to ask what Disney was thinking putting that in there – and I’m not sure I want to know, really. Just feels like it hit all the wrong notes.

      • short answer is prob it was included for comedy didn’t Lasseter mention that all the animals should have clothing.
        Without getting into details of society and comparisons to the movie It was just interesting for me to take into consideration that in the movie where in the micro society was generally split along species and in the macro between predator and pray that here was a place with male and female members of all species predator and pray gather together and romp around au naturel.

  9. The problem here is that we are comparing apples to oranges with this. Affirming interracial relationships simply recognizes what biology has taught us for thousands of years: we are all the same. Black, white, whatever; races are basically just a construct. There is only one race, really, and that is the human race.

    Making it about multiple species is totally different. In some anthro verses – Star Fox, for example – species boundaries have little to no biological meaning. You can be from different planets and still have kids and grandkids just as easily as if you were from the same tribe. Zootopia, by all that I’ve gathered, is very different, which raises serious ethical questions.

  10. While I actually agree that they could benefit from creating a romantic dynamic between Judy and Nick, it is for completely different reasons.

    Your suggestion about why Nick and Judy should be together in the next film is certainly founded on truth. The allegory between mixed race love would be clear in the story of their relationship, and the impact that could have on impressionable youth as well as open minded adults might do some good in the world. However, I disagree that a film like this should be written in order to make a point, and while the first film certainly did so, it was not the initial purpose or intention to make a splash.

    Instead of focusing on statement, I think the next film should focus on story. Thanks to the excellent groundwork laid out in the first film, the creators at Disney have an extremely rare opportunity to tell a truly unique story that I almost never see even outside of animated films: romance built upon friendship.

    How many times have we sat through romantic comedies where the communication breakdowns and childish behavior is creating all the drama needlessly? Or worse, how many action flics contain ham-fisted romance sub plots with absolutely no chemistry? The most realistic romances we see in the cinema are often the ones that breakup towards the beginning of the film to make room for a new love interest to start at the end. This is the message we deliver to children and set the expectations for what love is supposed to be like as adults. Real love (not childish crushes) has less to do with flowers and poetry and far more to do with laughter, compromise and teamwork. Yet we never see this in film, especially Disney who has always had a reputation for having ridiculous groundworks for relationship.

    You may have noticed that, over the past decade or so, Disney has focused far less on romantic love in their animated films! Think back on every movie since Tangled(2010), which is the most recent example of the protagonist falling in love. Since then, we’ve had Wreck it Ralph (2012), which had romance between two side characters for comic relief. Frozen (2013), which intentionally flipped the idea of Disney romance on it’s head with “You can’t marry someone you just met.” We had Big Hero 6 (2014) with no romance whatsoever. Then we had Zootopia (2016) with nothing direct, Moana (2016) with thankfully no romance at all, and Wreck it Ralph 2 (2018), where the same comedic relief love was an afterthought. In that same timeline, we had nine films from Pixar and the only one to feature any romantic relationships with the protagonist was Incredibles 2, which I think did a great job of showing a more realistic take on marriage and family.

    Clearly Disney is weary of romance of late, but I think that’s because they’ve been waiting for the opportunity to tell a good story with it, and with Zootopia 2 they’d finally have that opportunity! Instead of falling in love due to life-threatening circumstances or through some misplaced sense of romance, they could be in love because of what they already have: Friendship. Judy and Nick are friends and partners. Equals. They jest and joke. They test and challenge. They give each other space. They ask for each other’s help. They enjoy each other’s company honestly, and they know each other profoundly well. Put short, they have real chemistry that is hard to put on screen even in live action. So it should naturally follow that if they got romantic, they would remain friends throughout. Love is friendship set on fire; the more friendship you have, the longer and hotter those coals will burn. Whereas most romances we see in disney feel more like matches; bright and fast, but there’s not much there to build on.

    In the end, it’s up to the creators to tell the best story they can. Whether they decide to keep them good friends (that would still be a great movie!) or develop them into a couple, that is their call. But that decision needs to be story-centric, not based on the splash it would make or the intended social commentary it creates. As long as they focus on character and story, I think they can’t go wrong.

    But what do I know? I’m just a stranger on the internet.

    • Couldn’t agree more, nice to see some feedback like this. At the moment I just see people trying to prove a point in a senseless battle to see who is right or wrong rather to look what we got from the 1st movie. A relationship this natural is rare and would be a shame to see go on waste. I’m not saying for people to stop support what they like but I’ve seen many missing out what made Zootopia so great.

      In the end as you mentioned, it’s entirely up to the Creators decide how to move foward, Judy and Nick are already together regardless of what happens, through friendship and partnership. Not making them together romantically is not the end of the world, this can introduce to new storys, new characters (even new characters that could end up with Judy and Nick in a romance. Who knows! As long everything is made naturally. Or no romance at all) big cases and so on. I’ve explored both ways and they both work. Still I like them as best friends only, but that’s my fan brain speaking for itself, but my heart leaves it completely wide open.

      Would like to understand why are fans afraid if there is no romance. Is it because the movie could end up a failure? It can happen any way! With or without romance.

      The Creators should know what they want and I’ll leave it to them to unfold the story of these 2 favourite mascots.

      The movie showed what diversity is and teaches about it a bit, yet here we are and can’t help to feel sometimes sad the pressure most are delivering to the Zootopia crew.

      Your feedback is amazing and I’m with you 100%.

      • IMO if Nick or Judy got into a relationship with someone else, it would put a boundary between them that would ruin the chemistry they have. The warmth between them (and lines like “you know you love me”) would risk causing jealousy or awkwardness if they weren’t both single.

        Nick and Judy already have the perfect groundwork for a very strong relationship, and it would be pointless to take that away just to shove a new character in with either of them. If they don’t get together with each other in a sequel, it should probably be left ambiguous. As in they are currently close friends, but the possibility of them becoming a couple later is still open.

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