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Villain Overview
My soldiers, my sons. Many of you have heard of me in late-night whispering but I assure you, I am not a myth. I am real and I stand before you with one simple truth: the strong shall rule the weak. Long ago, I was viciously attacked by the coward Lyze of Kiel for defending that truth. Now I wear this mask to conceal my scars but the metal is strong. It is a symbol of the Pure Ones' strength and resolve. It is time to set a fire that will consume the Owl Kingdoms and take back what is rightfully ours. Because we are Tytos! We are Pure Ones! And I am Metal Beak!
~ Surtr addressing the Pure Ones.

Surtr, or also better known as Metal Beak, is the main antagonist of the 2010 computer-animated Warner Bros. film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, an adaptation of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole novel series. He is the husband of Nyra and the leader of the Pure Ones.

He was voiced by Joel Edgerton, who also played Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, Gordon "Gordo" Mosley in The Gift and Rameses in Exodus: Gods and Knights.

Biography

Past

Metal Beak was originally called Surtr and took part in the battle of the Ice Claws with the Pure Ones against the Guardians of Ga'Hoole. During the battle, Surtr was bested and maimed by a Guardian named Lyze of Kiel, resulting in him wearing a metal mask to cover his facial scars and going under a new name: Metal Beak.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Many years later, Metal Beak, his wife Nyra and the rest of the Pure Ones, took over St. Aegolius Acadamy for Orphaned Owls (St. Aggie's for short) and would send out his minions to capture owlets (among them Soren and his brother Kludd, who becomes a Pure One) in order to either convert them into Pure One soldiers or make them pickers to pick through pellets to find flecks to power his device to use against the Guardians. He had made an alliance with Allomere, a Guardian who had became a turnfeather for the Pure Ones as Metal Beak has promised him a portion of the owl kingdoms to rule as King if he helped them.

After being given a moonblinked Eglantine and another owlet by Kludd, Allomere returned to the Great Ga'Hoole Tree and told the Guardians the Pure Ones plan, which made the Guardians decide to fight them. However, this was part of Metal Beak's plan and when the Guardians arrived, the device was activated and the Guardians were pinned to the ground with it's power. However, Soren and the band arrive to save the Guardians (after Eglantine revealed to him that Kludd had moonblinked her and gave her to Allomere). Seeing the group, Metal Beak believed that they were Guardians, and felt betrayed by Allomere, who was meant to bring all the Guardians. Saying that there was only room for one king, Metal Beak ordered Allomere killed; the treacherous Guardian was then attacked and dragged by several bats. However, unbeknownst to Metal Beak, Allomere had escaped the bats, but was later killed by his former apprentice Shard, after discovering that Allomere killed his parents.

Later in the battle, Metal Beak battles Lyze of Kiel (now known as Ezylryb), who despite his age is able to overpower his enemy, until Nyra's arrival. However, before they can kill Ezylryb, Soren arrives with a flaming branch to defeat Metal Beak to stop him destroying another owl's soul, after battling Kludd. The two owls battled, but the veteran warlord is able to overpower the younger owl and swoops at Soren with talons out to kill him. Luckily, Soren is able to grab the branch and stabs Metal Beak through the heart, killing him. Horrified at her husband's death, Nyra gives Soren an angry glare before retreating with the remaining Pure Ones.

Near the end of the film, Kludd (who had survived falling into a forest fire during his battle with Soren) comes across Metal Beak's body and gazes down at his fallen leader's mask, possibly taking it for himself.

Personality and Traits

Surtr was a cold, brutal, and ruthless, individual. He held his fanatical belief that the strong must dominate and overpower the weak, hence why he wanted the Tyto class to dominate the rest of the owl kingdoms, even though he was going to kill another owl in the Tyto class if he or she fought against him; in this case, it was Soren. He was also willing to enslave hundreds of owlets and force them into horrific conditions, first having them "moonblinked" where an owl collapses under the moon and forgets his or her own identity, and then forced to pick at other owls' pellets so they can carry the metal flecks from them and carry them to the bats, as the owlets are tortured since the magnetic field from the flecks severely damage their gizzards. It's later revealed that the bats take the metal flecks to set up a trap for the Guardians when the latter try to save said owlets, which Allomere led them to since he was a mole from within the Guardians of Ga'Hoole because he was really one of the Pure Ones. Surtr was even willing to force Soren to watch as Ezylryb, Lyze of Kiel, was going to be killed by Nyra.

He was also sarcastic, manipulative, and very charismatic, as he got Grimble to supposedly join the Pure Ones as he had his entire family captured and promised him that if he does what he says, then his family will be left unharmed, though Grimble was never an ally of the Pure Ones and was just doing it to free his family, and there is never any indication that Surtr ever left them unharmed. Additionally, Metal Beak promised Allomere that if he led the Guardians into the trap created by the metal flecks, then he would make him the King of the Great Tree, but, since Allomere was heavily blinded by a desire for power, Metal Beak betrayed him as he had him dragged off by the bats.

Despite this, one of the most defining traits of Surtr's personality was his own narcissism. After having Allomere dragged away by the bats, he told him that there is only room for one king while referring to himself, meaning that Surtr wanted to be king himself. While confronting Ezylryb for the last time, Surtr tells him that he can finally have his vengeance for the scars on his face and his missing beak, but when Ezelryb tells him that it is an improve and thus should thank him for it, Surtr immediately attacks him, later brutalizes him with Nyra, and attempted to kill him before Soren came to his rescue. Also, even though it is heavily implied that Nyra cared about Surtr's life as she was shocked and angered upon seeing that Soren killed him, there's nothing to prove that Surtr ever loved her back, especially since he treated her not as an equal, but as his second-in-command, and he didn't give her any armor to protect herself when she went out to battle with the Pure Ones against the Guardians, none of which he loved nor showed sympathy for when any of them died, despite calling them his "soldiers" and "sons" during his speech.

Quotes

Nyra: My lord.
Surtr: Hm?
Nyra: Our work at St. Aegolius is very nearly done. The last of the flecks are on their way, and I've brought you an offering with beating hearts. Your new soldiers, tested and pure. One in particular shows exceptional promise.
Surtr: I'll be the judge of that. You. Soldier. Step forward. (Kludd steps forward) Yes, you're right to be afraid in my presence. What is your name?
Kludd: [softly] Kludd.
Surtr: Speak up!
Kludd: Kludd! My - my name is Kludd.
Surtr: There, that's better. Remember, weakness is for the lower species, never for us. Do you know why, Kludd?
Kludd: Because we are Tytos.
~ Exchange between Surtr and Kludd.
You should know, Allomere! There is only room for one king.
~ Surtr showing his arrogance as Allomere is dragged away by bats.
Pure Ones, attack! Crush them! Before they can recover!
~ Surtr to his Pure One soldiers.
Well, the legendary Lyze of Kiel. Once again, it's come down to just you and me. At last, I can take my revenge for this. (*indicates scar behind his iron mask*) (Ezylryb: Hmm. You should thank me. It appears to be an improvement.)
~ Exchange between Surtr aka Metal Beak and Ezylryb aka Lyze of Kiel.
(Soren: He's my teacher. My hero.) Well, your hero can teach you one last lesson about Pure Ones' strength… (Nyra: Don't move.) …by letting you watch him die.
~ Surtr's final words.

Trivia

  • Surtr is a character made for the film as in the books, Kludd served as Metal Beak and Nyra's husband.
    • Owing to his status as the leader of Pure Ones, Surtr may possibly inspired by an unnamed High Tyto whom Kludd killed in the books with aid of Nyra to overthrow Pure Ones' leadership as well as responsible for Kludd's scarred face that forced him to wear the mask. The difference however, the unnamed High Tyto is a Tyto Alba, not Greater Sooty Owls like Surtr.
    • Additionally in the books, Greater Sooty Owls are the second-lowest ranking Pure Ones (the lowest being Lesser Sooties), and are never promoted past soldiers.
  • The ending of the film indicated "Metal Beak" to be a title, with Kludd being the next to bear it. This indicated that Kludd will become Metal Beak much like in books, albeit as the second one.
    • The Metal Beak in the books is never referred to as Metal Beak by his fellow Pure Ones, while in the movie, he takes obvious pride in the title.
  • Whether or not if Surtr felt truly betrayed by Allomere or if he just wanted to get him out of the way is unknown, though the former is much more likely from his lines, “You should know, Allomere. There is only room for one king!”
  • He is blind in his left eye; on the other side of his face, he has no feathers, which is strange, as normally one wouldn't have feathers on his or her blind side. This may have been done, however, to make him appear more battle-worn.
  • Even though it's implied that Surtr lost his whole beak, parts of it are still visible in the movie. Concept art reveals that only a large part of his upper beak is missing.
  • His real name is only revealed in the film's videogame adaption.
    • Additionally, the name is derived from the Norse giant of the same name, who is a major figure in the event Ragnarök. "Surtr" in Old Norse means 'black' or 'the swarthy one', which fits Metal Beak due to being a Greater Sooty owl with prominent black to grey feathers.
  • Jacek Koman, Bill Nighy, and Sam Neill was considered for the role of Metal Beak before Joel Edgerton was cast.

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