At New York Comic Con 2018, Hypable had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with The Dragon Prince‘s executive producers, Aaron Ehasz, Justin Richmond, and Giancarlo Volpe.
We reflected back on the first season, dug into the motivations and journeys of some of the characters, and tried to glean a few teases for what’s next for all the eager Dragon Prince fans out there.
On getting a second season
During the Dragon Prince panel at New York Comic Con, it was confirmed — finally — that we would see the continuation of Callum, Ezran, Rayla and co.’s journey through Xadia. Of course, having to sit on that news must have been excruciating, particularly with fans clamouring for more.
Return to a world of magic, friendship, and dragons in 2019. Are you ready for Dragon Prince Season 2? pic.twitter.com/fQs2mEs7Tu
— NX (@NXOnNetflix) October 5, 2018
“I feel like I shouldn’t be acknowledging it exists,” executive producer Giancarlo Volpe said, of the announcement.
“Yeah we’re super excited,” series creator Aaron Ehasz added. “You know I think it’s pretty obvious from just the first nine [episodes] that our intention is to start building something that’s huge and that’s going to go on for a while. So, this is the next step in that epic journey, and so we have a lot of ideas and we’ve got a head start on a lot of them.”
What can they tease about season 2?
As expected, Aaron Ehasz, Justin Richmond, and Giancarlo Volpe remained fairly tight-lipped on what we should expect from The Dragon Prince‘s second season, but they did offer a few teases.
“I think a little about, obviously, where are each of the characters in this journey now, right?” Ehasz said. “So, you think about Callum. We’ve kind of started this journey of self-discovery, learning magic and like, ‘oh, this is something I connected to.’ And then he sacrifices the object that he connects with his newfound identity at the end of the season. So where does that leave him? Where does that leave him as [a person]? What does he grow into next?”
Of course, Callum was just one example of some wider storylines that are set to play out, particularly amongst the central trio, who may have some bumps in the road of their continuing journey.
Ehasz continued, “Some big things happen back at the castle that Rayla knows about, and Callum and Ezran still don’t. What happens when they do find out? They’ve just earned this trust between them. Well, where does that go if they start to get exposed to these these truths that she hasn’t shared?”
As for whether or not we would be seeing King Harrow again, Ehasz only said, “There’s obviously rich backstory somewhere, at the very least, and we’re definitely going to try and explore that.”
Calling… Tony Stark?
When it comes to Callum’s magical ability, one thing that was very quickly put to rest was whether or not our favorite step-prince has an innate talent for it. So, it looks like there’s no secret elven blood in his family tree that we know of — for now.
“Humans are not born with innate magical ability,” Ehasz said. “That’s the thing. In Xadia, elves, magical creatures, they’re born with magic inside them and humans aren’t. And that’s part of why some humans, when they did find a way to use magic, obviously one way was through these objects, primal stones, that contain magic but the other way was through dark magic.”
Callum’s act of destroying the primal stone, his only link — thus far — back to magic, was likened to one particular Marvel character.
“This is a little bit like Tony Stark destroying all of his Iron Man suits at the end of the season,” Volpe said.
“It’s like ripping out his arc reactor,” Richmond added.
“So who is Tony Stark without that?” Volpe mused.
Who is Callum without his magic? That will likely be the question Callum himself will be asking, when the show returns for its second season.
The temptation of dark magic, and its cost
The subject of dark magic in the Xadian world was one that we lingered on as a topic of discussion for a significant part of the interview. Dark magic, after all, was the catalyst for the events of The Dragon Prince, and several characters are heavily tangled up in its web.
One character that has not yet dabbled in the dark arts is Callum, and we were curious whether he might be tempted to, with his primal stone destroyed.
“I will ask you: If you were Callum and you struggled with your identity, and sense self-esteem, and all these things, and you found something that made you feel like you were contributing. Like you were powerful. Like you could make a difference. Then the thing you have that could let you do it is gone, and then you found out, ‘wait, I can still do it, but I have to follow this path.’ I think it would be very tempting. I know I said it, instead of asking you, but– yeah,” Ehasz said.
Of course, nothing is quite as simple as just using dark magic. Everything has its cost, as we discovered at the close of the first season, when Viren’s true face appeared.
“The way that we always imagined it was that with these primal sources, and with runes, a magic user who could be an elf, or whoever, or if you have a primal source, and you’re drawing it that way, it is somehow making a connection between the actual source of the magic,” Ehasz elaborated, on the delicate magical system that they built into their universe. “They are attracting and focusing it with a rune. And then with a draconic word they’re triggering and releasing its energy into the world. So there’s this process of attraction to the rune and release. With dark magic, it’s this process of consumption. And it’s consumed by the dark mage, and they take it through them and then they output it with these dark words. So we always imagined that kind of consumption would eat away at you slowly, eventually, you know?”
“It’s a bit like smoking,” Volpe added. “It leaves a little tar in the lungs.”
And, with the damage to Viren’s appearance done, it begged the question whether or not he had been there before — and what he had done to reverse that process. It all came back to the butterflies.
“I think that that is a daily cosmetic ritual, or regular cosmetic ritual, to restore his normal appearance,” Ehasz said. “I think if dark magic affects you and eventually you get to a point where if you want to look normal, you’ve got to do more dark magic to make yourself even look regular.”
But where does that leave Claudia?
“She’s like a young smoker,” Ehasz continued. “She looks great now, but give it a couple of years.”
The importance of Ezran
Ezran was — particularly for myself — one of the more surprising characters of The Dragon Prince. It can often be difficult to strike a balance with a childlike naivety, while also giving a complex and richly nuanced performance of a character that has gone through genuine hardships, but they show managed it with ease.
“Ezran’s a really interesting character,” Richmond said. “And I think we’re going to see a lot more interesting things out of Ezran as we go forward. You’ve sort of just tapped into this whole thing at the end of season one, where you’re like, ‘oh my god, he can communicate [with animals.]’ And now we have this baby dragon, right? That’s going to make a big difference. So, I think we’re just getting started with his arc. He was fun in the first season, you see what he’s about, but I think now we’re gonna really start to see more Ezran screen time.”
One thing that Ehasz stressed was just how important Ezran will be on the journey into Xadia — especially as they leave their human allies behind.
“Ezran is the key to everything,” Ehasz added. “In a sense, there are these worlds that have been divided and you have this this kid who’s super empathetic, and has this ability to connect with the animals and basically non-human beings, right? That’s really special. And that’s because of a deep empathy and some combination of what he was born with, who his parents were, but also how he grew up and how he dealt with his own struggles. And I think part of it is that you’re gonna go into Xadia at some point and be like, ‘oh, we’re humans and we’re trying to make things work.’ Well, that’s not going to be easy. This is where Ezran’s superpower of empathy is going to crucial.”
What’s happening with the ‘Dragon Prince’ game?
As we already know, the Dragon Prince universe won’t live solely in the confines of Netflix. A video game, set in Xadia, is also on the cards. We took the opportunity to ask a few more questions about where that game was in its development, and exactly what fans can look forward to when it releases.
“We’re working with our partner, MWM. They’re a first investor,” Richmond said. “They’ve given us the ability to build out, what we call a vertical slice. We have a full playable version of the game, basically. And we’re now trying to figure out exactly who the right partner is to go to the end. But there will be more news soon, I swear.”
When the creative team aren’t hard at work on the Netflix show, they are pouring over the game, to get it ready for a full release.
Richmond continued, “We have a fully active dev team in the office working on the game full tilt. Our senior writer, Ian Hendry, was a game designer at Riot. Devon Giehl was a creative designer at Riot. Some of the writing team is actually working on the game too. The whole studio is kind of working on both products.”
But how about the game itself? Would we be looking at something where you would play as the characters on the show, recreating the events of the season in real time? Or will it be its own thing?
“It’s not going to be you running through the events of the show as a playable character,” Richmond confirmed. “It’ll be something else. But you will get to see a lot of the world. Let’s put it that way. It’ll expand upon the universe of Xadia and all of that stuff. It’s not gonna be like, watch as Callum does all the things he does in the pilot, or plays all the things as the pilot does.”
Ehasz added, “It’s built from the same world and universe as the show, right? And so you want it to be something where, hopefully, there are characters and fantasies from the show that you love and there’s there’s a chance to explore them there. But also there’ll be new characters and possibilities and things you haven’t seen. We want there to be interplay eventually. We want there to be something where the game is introducing a character or a part of the world, or something like that, thinking like, ‘oh my gosh that’s amazing.’ So, things you love from the show make their way into the game and vice-versa. Because they’re both kind of coming from the same creative place.”