Favorite Fictional Characters, #106: Astrid Hofferson
Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon films are excellent. The animation, the storytelling, the score, it all works. The only minor flaw is that the main character, Hiccup, is sort of an annoying whiner, voiced by professional annoying whiner Jay Baruchel. For me, the heart of the Dragons franchise is instead viking proto-babe Astrid Hofferson. She's ambitious, strong, and focused on honing her skills to a fine edge. Where Hiccup is reluctant and timid, Astrid is bold and decisive. When we first meet her, she has no patience for him or anyone standing in her way of becoming a preeminent viking warrior and dragon slayer.
Obviously, her position softens as she is exposed to the kinder, gentler side of dragons, and she becomes friendlier to Hiccup and the other young riders of Berk. The ice melts quite a bit, and she evolves into the role of lending backbone to Hiccup as his primary confidant, advisor, and romantic interest. As she progresses from 15 to 20 during the course of the films and related television series, she finds a certain comfort with herself and her identity, granting her a kind of easy confidence and maturity. While I kind of miss Astrid's early hell-on-wheels, ice maiden persona, one of the strengths of the franchise is that its characters grow and change.
I've said before that this is the golden age of family animated fare. Dreamworks is in the vanguard of the era, and How to Train Your Dragon is one of their finest efforts