It is times like this that I cans see no matter how cool he is about it and how cool he makes it look like, that foot still bothers Hiccup (and even Toothless) to no end …
One of the details I loved the most about Hiccup’s animation in HtTYD2 is the fact that, despite the fact that he’s completely comfortable with it, his peg leg is still a peg leg, and obviously can’t move like a normal foot and do all of the same things. I don’t know if it really bothers hiccup at this point because he’s so used to it, but adding details to his movements, particularly when he’s getting himself up off the ground or here, maneuvering around rocks, and adding some stiffer details to say yeah in case you forgot that’s a fake leg, is just a really great way to talk about his disability without actually talking about it. Staying true to the character, all that. It’s nice.
It also adds to that dang son you got skills vibe because he does all this with a fake leg. Like. dang.
This is one of the things that makes me love how they portray disability in the canon so much. Disability is often portrayed in one of two ways in media, if it’s portrayed at all:
1) The character is not a character and their entire story arc is about their disability. Personality? Personal goals? Who needs those when there’s overwrought drama and angst to wring from the character’s disability?
That seems to be what the writers think when they write some characters with disabilities, anyway. Sometimes these stories can at least be good for people going through the process of dealing with their disabilities themselves, like when they first get them, develop them, or during times they’re really struggling, but unfortunately, they can often other and dehumanize the character accidentally. It’s good they sometimes exist but it’d be bad if they were the only ones that exist.
Then there’s 2) The disability superpower. Happens a lot with blind characters, especially, where some other sense(s) is/are heightened like Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender, or Daredevil from Marvel Comics.
These characters are often allowed to actually HAVE character so they can be really enjoyable and hey, everyone deserves to see the type of person they are as some kind of superhero badass at some point, so it’s important they do exist sometimes. But for the average person - especially kids watching kid-oriented canons - their disability is not going to give them the magical ability to kick ass by mentally throwing rocks at people.
That’s why it’s important characters like Hiccup exist too. They have a distinct personality, their own goals, and their disability is a part of them and something they have to adjust to, something they sometimes struggle with in terms of what they can do, but they try their best to deal with it and go about their lives. And the story is not about their disability.
It’s important that different types of stories about disabilities exist. Having the stories that are all about disability is important sometimes as a tool for adjusting to having them, especially for kids when they first develop them, get them by accident, or have times they really struggle with them.
Having stories with characters who are total badasses despite them or even because of them is important sometimes too, because everyone needs to see themselves as some kind of huge badass in the media sometimes. Maybe that’s not the reality sometimes, that a disability itself can be a strength, but that can be a nice feeling.
But by that same token it’s important that characters like Hiccup exist as well, because they show the version that is closest to reality for a lot of people with disabilities, in that they are people first, with their own goals and own stories, but don’t negate the trouble disabilities can sometimes cause.
He has trouble sometimes but he’s his own man and still gets shit done anyway. He still has the things he’s good at and parts of himself he can contribute to the world and ways he can internally grow and yes he has trouble sometimes but just deals with it, and that’s important to show, too.
He is a person living with it. He’s got shit he wants to do and it can sometimes be a pain in the ass in terms of mobility, but he deals with it. That’s the average person with a disability. Mental illness, physical disabilties, being on the spectrum, whatever it is, there are a lot of people out there that have them and are people first, and have to struggle with them, and they still have to get by and be themselves and try to do the things they want to do.
And that’s why representation of people with disabilities needs to exist because there’s all different stories that can be told on that spectrum of possible stories that can be useful to people for them to see, in all different ways.