Ian is a young blue elf that lives at home with his mother, Laurel, and his older brother, Barley. It is revealed early in the film that Ian's and Barley's father, Wilden, passed away while Laurel was pregnant with Ian, and while Barley was very young. Having never met his father, Ian thinks about him all the time.
On Ian's sixteenth birthday, Laurel presents both Ian and Barley with gifts that their father intended to be given to them at this time. The gifts turn out to be their father's magical staff, a Phoenix Gem, and a letter containing instructions on how to perform a "visitation" spell, which would allow Wilden to return and see his family for just one day. The brothers insert the Phoenix Gem into the staff and begin to try out the spell. After many failed attempts at the spell by Barley, Ian's attempt begins to work, and their father starts to appear, starting with his feet and working up from there. As the magic emanating from the staff completes their father's legs and then waist, the Phoenix Gem fails and shatters, leaving Wilden incomplete, with his top half missing.
- Dan Scanlon tweet, June 2, 2019.