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Who is the first sea monster in Luca?

The first sea monster introduced in the Pixar film Luca is the Kraken. The Kraken makes its first appearance early in the movie, establishing itself as a feared mythical creature in the seaside town of Portorosso.

Introducing the Kraken

The Kraken is initially brought up by some of the human characters in Portorosso, who reference the monster while warning Luca and Alberto to avoid going near the ocean. Though the Kraken is not seen onscreen at this point, the tense, fearful way the townspeople describe it makes it clear that the creature has a terrifying reputation.

Not long after this, Luca and Alberto disobey the warnings and go down to the beach one night. There, Alberto begins to describe what the Kraken allegedly looks like, depicting it as a massive, tentacled horror with imposing jaws and strength enough to pull entire ships under the waves. Though treated as a tall tale by the pragmatic Luca, Alberto’s description nevertheless establishes the Kraken as a force to be feared.

The Kraken’s First Appearance

The Kraken finally makes its first onscreen appearance later on when a fleet of human fishermen set out to hunt it. The fishermen are confident at first, armed with harpoons and a determination to take down the monstrous Kraken. However, their confidence quickly turns to panic when the Kraken emerges from the depths.

Rising out of the sea, the Kraken is revealed to be just as massive and terrifying as Alberto described. It has a bulbous, spiny head with a giant maw filled with jagged teeth, and its body sports countless flailing tentacles, each bigger than the fishing boats themselves. The Kraken lets out an earth-shaking roar as it bursts from the water, showing that it is a powerful beast not to be trifled with.

The fishermen quickly realize they are outmatched and begin fleeing in terror from the rampaging Kraken. Their harpoons and nets are useless against the creature, which seems intent on destroying their boats. The Kraken’s attack demonstrates its role as a dangerous sea monster to be feared by the humans of Portorosso.

The Kraken’s Role

As the first sea monster to appear on screen, the Kraken establishes an important context for Luca’s story. In particular, the Kraken serves several key roles:

  • It shows that the human characters’ superstitious fears about monsters are real, at least to some extent.
  • It poses a threat that helps raise the stakes for Luca and Alberto if they are discovered to be sea monsters themselves.
  • It acts as a point of comparison later when the more intelligent, speaking sea monsters are introduced.
  • It provides an action setpiece when Luca and Alberto have to outsmart it later in the film.

By presenting such a terrifying beast early on, the Kraken sets the tone and shapes the audience’s understanding of the world, priming them for later reveals. It’s an important establishing creature that plays a pivotal role despite limited screen time.

The Kraken’s Origins

The Kraken of folklore has roots going back centuries, though the modern conception of the Kraken comes mainly from 18th and 19th century tales of Scandinavian sailors. In Norse legends, the Kraken was said to be a massive, octopus-like creature that could pull ships down into the ocean depths. Traditions held that the Kraken mostly resided off the coasts of Norway and Greenland.

Though technically just a legend, belief in the Kraken persisted well into the modern era. Enough sailors claimed to have seen it that naturalists began proposing theories that the Kraken might be a real animal. Proposed identities included a giant squid or octopus species that grew bigger than any known specimens.

While giant and colossal squids are real animals that can reach enormous sizes, accounts of the Kraken describe a creature far larger and more aggressively predatory than any known cephalopod. Leading scientists have concluded that the legendary Kraken is almost certainly fictional.

Kraken Accounts Through History

Some notable historical accounts of the Kraken include:

  • In 1555, Swedish ecclesiastic Olaus Magnus wrote of a sea creature off the coast of Norway that was “rounded, sharply dragging down ships.”
  • In 1752, Danish naturalist Erik Pontoppidan described the Kraken in his book Natural History of Norway as “incontestably the largest Sea monster in the world.”
  • In 1830, Alfred Tennyson published his sonnet “The Kraken” describing the creature slumbering deep under the sea.
  • In 1870, American novelist Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea featuring giant squid attacks that may have been inspired by Kraken tales.

While now considered mythical, the Kraken persisted as a legendary creature believed by many to be real for centuries, before fading fully into mythology and fiction in the 20th century.

The Kraken in Popular Culture

Though recognized as fictional today, the Kraken continues to capture imaginations and feature prominently in popular culture, including:

  • 1981’s Clash of the Titans, in which the Kraken is controlled by Zeus and attacks cities.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean films, which depict the Kraken as an squid-like servant of Davy Jones.
  • The 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans, reusing the Kraken but depicting it with a crab-like carapace.
  • The Kraken rum brand, which uses the beast in its branding and marketing.
  • The Seattle Kraken NHL team, named after the mythical creature.

The Kraken has become a ubiquitous sea monster symbol, representing fear of the unknown dangers in the ocean depths. Its pervasiveness in popular culture allows the Pixar film to draw on that familiarity.

Designing Pixar’s Kraken

Pixar’s artists put a lot of thought into designing their interpretation of the Kraken for Luca. Some key goals included:

  • Making it intimidating while also believable within the film’s stylized aesthetic.
  • Evoking classic Kraken depictions like the Pirates of the Caribbean version.
  • Showing it as a frightening threat while avoiding making it overly scary for children.
  • Ensuring its size lived up to a mythical titan capable of pulling down ships.

To achieve this, Pixar opted to focus its design on key identifiable Kraken traits like massive tentacles and a gnashing maw, while streamlining the overall silhouette. The studio also designed the Kraken to move in dramatic, thrashing motions befitting an aquatic beast.

By incorporating both fresh details and recognizable Kraken features, Pixar crafted a memorable update of the classic monster perfect for Luca’s setting and story.

The Kraken as a Villain

In its role as an aquatic threat, the Kraken serves as a sort of villain within Luca, though a mindless one. It does not have an actively malicious agenda, but rather acts as an obstacle through its desire to attack fishing boats.

As a villain, the Kraken:

  • Provides a source of fear for the human characters, resulting in their distrust of the ocean.
  • Acts as a threat to Luca and Alberto if they are exposed as sea monsters.
  • Menaces the protagonists when they cross its path later in the film.
  • Gives Luca and Alberto the chance to be heroes by outwitting it.

So while not an intelligent schemer, the Kraken’s role as a dangerous force of nature qualifies it as a villainous entity within Luca’s story.

Defeating the Kraken

Late in Luca, the Kraken rises up and attacks the triathlon event Luca and Alberto are competing in. Though massive and menacing, Luca realizes that the Kraken is acting territorially rather than hunting them.

Working together, Luca, Alberto, and Giulia are able to steer the Kraken away from the crowded event by having it chase after a school of fish instead. This non-violent trick allows them to avoid conflict and protect both humans and Kraken alike.

While the Kraken remains at large in the end, this act of cooperation represents some progress in fostering a less fear-based relationship between the humans and creatures of the sea.

The Kraken’s Legacy

Despite limited screen time, the Kraken leaves a lasting impression in Luca through its key early role establishing the danger of the sea monsters.

As the first such creature shown, it sets up a strong contrast highlighted when Luca and Alberto are later revealed not to be mindless beasts at all. By first presenting a real sea monster threat, it makes the peaceful true nature of Luca and his kind more impactful.

The Kraken also helps ground the story in a recognizable folklore tradition, with the designers skillfully adapting the classic Kraken imagery into Pixar’s unique aesthetic. Overall, it remains one of the most memorable creatures in Luca.


Starting with its reputation that precedes it and culminating in its destructive attack on the harbor, the Kraken is a pivotal early figure in Luca’s tale. As the first sea monster portrayed, it establishes an important context of danger from the ocean that shapes the story and world. The Pixar team did an excellent job making the Kraken feel true to its mythical roots while also fitting seamlessly into the film’s setting. Though lacking complex motivations, the Kraken makes up for it with an imposing presence and thrilling action sequence. Its role as a legendary sea monster villain helps set the stage for Luca’s more nuanced exploration of fear and acceptance. With its rich history reinforced through a visually stunning modern update, the Kraken leaves a lingering impact long after its rampage ends.