Imaginative Discussions: Why I Am Thankful for How To Train Your Dragon

Posted July 2, 2014 by Lyn Kaye in Uncategorized / 21 Comments

imaginative discussions


Lyn here today, talking about one of my favorite movie franchises:

Yes, this is a geek out about the How to Train Your Dragon movies.  The one with the cute dragon…

…and the awesome scenery…

…and the music…

…and the VIKINGS.

It was almost like destiny for me to turn into a huge fangirl, right?

I do love all of the above things about the movie.  I flat out go screaming mad with JOY.  But there is also one small, subconscious element that is equally as special regarding the films.  Something that stuck with me from the first, and gained momentum after the credits rolled for the second.  I was downright proud and thankful for these movies.  How to Train Your Dragon is mainly a young boy demographic franchise, but that doesn’t mean that it sticks to the same old conservative formula. Sure, there are reoccurring themes, but it was the little extra that set the Dragon films apart.

The female factor.

I’m not here to set off about a long rant about inequality or the harsh landscape of realistic expectations and demands set on the female gender for the sake of packaged entertainment.  If I did that, this article would turn into a novella and I would froth at the mouth and have a heart attack.  I did, however, want to point out a few things that make this set of films very special to me.

Note: I haven’t seen the TV show, so my views solely rely on the movies.

First, I want to turn my attention to Astrid. This girl here needs her own movie, and I honestly hope to see this become a reality.  The small amount of attention focused on her does tend to portray her as a positive female figure. I wish I had Astrid on the screen when I was a small kid! The first thing that jumped out at me was that the natural talented never slung her gender around, or had it as the biggest qualification for her skills.  She wasn’t the “best girl” or “the top AND a girl,” Astrid was simply just the best. It wasn’t seen as a challenge by her male peers.  It was accepted, and she never had to validate herself as “better than the guys.”

It was no small wonder for Astrid.  During an important scene in the first movie, a Viking boat with warriors contained males and females, and the director did not stop to point this out, or explain the situation, it was added and treated as the norm.  This right here is equality. The accepted social graces involve women and let them stand on their own merits. There are not female and male warriors, there are just warriors.

Returning back to Astrid, something else that warmed my heart was her interaction with her new love interest. The main role lead, once ostracized, found acceptance with his peer group and gained the most desirable girl as a reward. Yes, standard issues plot point. However, it was the “after” part that was the real charmer.  Astrid doesn’t become “the girlfriend.” As we see her in the sequel, she’s still the local hero, and she can still do her own thing without the label of “cheif’s son’s catch” weighing her down. She doesn’t “belong” to Hiccup. She doesn’t have to answer for him, she lives her life, and she is still her own person. She is supportive, kind, and opened minded with her flame.  A boy’s film treated their main girl character with more respect and fairness than some novels writer FOR GIRLS.

In the second Dragon film, Astrid even works beside a new male character, and doesn’t attach romance to the plot. I was deathly afraid of watching a love triangle form when while the plot played out, but the two simply learn to respect one another, and develop a healthy friendship from a partnership. No love triangle. No swooning female picking the best alpha of her heart. A girl became friends with another guy.

Astrid can stand on her own feet, while still allowing Hiccup some space to grow on his own. She doesn’t need his attention or his approval or even his presence around her constantly. She seemed to care deeply about him without placing her own demands on him to become something he isn’t. In a society where women strap on armor and become equals, she doesn’t see Hiccup as less-than-a-man. She sees him as a person (an eccentric one), and a person she adores.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the pink bubblegum attraction of All Things Girly. I have my fair share of female-oriented entertainment and merchandise.  This doesn’t stop me from appreciating and respecting a female character that breaks the norm and does it without fanfare.  I feel deeply grateful that there is a film where equality is the social standard.




21 responses to “Imaginative Discussions: Why I Am Thankful for How To Train Your Dragon

  1. YEP. Astrid. The best. All hail Astrid the best! I must now go and watch the second movie. I haven’t yet because bad me!!!! The first time I watched the first movie, Astrid made me happy but the things you say never really registered because I took them as is. However, when I saw it again last year, I actually got to appreciate that aspect of the movie. She was, simply, the best. And now the next movie. Or maybe tomorrow. I’m tireddddd…
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  2. This post came at the PERFECT time as I just went to see this movie yesterday. I’m totally in the mood to fangirl about How to Train Your Dragon now! Watching the second, I was so scared about Astrid and Eret just because all the books and shows and movies I’ve watched have kinda taught me to expect a romance to blossom out of every boy/girl relationship but I really liked that that didn’t happen! And honestly, it made me kinda ashamed that I would think that. But yeah, Astrid is such a fantastic character! She definitely holds her own very well!

    And ahhh, Toothless! So cute!
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  3. I’M FINALLY SEEING HTTYD2 TOMORROW AND THIS MAKES ME JUST DIE WITH EXCITEMENT AND HAPPINESS. Also cry because this shouldn’t be so revolutionary, but it IS and it’s GLORIOUS, especially in such a hugely popular movie franchise. FOR CHILDREN. So boys and girls will grow up with this kind of blase example of equality and hopefully will internalize it as the norm and feeeelings
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  4. I really enjoyed the second movie even more than the first. I liked seeing them all a little older and able to do more things now that they have accepted dragons into their world and homes. I do love Astrid because she is everything you just listed and more. She is a great female character that is kick ass and loves Hiccup even though he is a little odd at times. Plus as you pointed out she never makes it seem as if she needs Hiccup in order to live, she still does her own thing while wanting to spend some time with him.
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    • Lyn

      I like that they proved that moving outside of the expected is not detrimental to their income. Kids aren’t as ingrained in our standards as people think, and exposing them to something so ground breaking makes me believe that we can build something better. Starting with them.
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  5. I totally flailed over HtTYD2 a couple weeks ago on my blog. THIS MOVIE!! Also Toothless. He’s basically the most adorable yet badass thing ever and I love it and I want a Toothless of my own!! I really do love this movie for all the other things as well though – particularly Astrid. No love triangle, independence, a clear physical comfortability with each other (no awkward I’m not pretty enough girls) without being overly gooey, and…that thing that happened that I won’t say (as one of my friends put in the comments that thing that we haven’t see happy since The Lion Head of State movie). Even if it made me sad, I just didn’t think they would commit to it. And when they did, my respect for them rose even greater.
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