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.