The upcoming live-action remake of Dreamworks’ animated gem How to Train Your Dragon will reportedly race-swap one of its lead characters, resulting in criticism from some fans.
The film was released to mass critical acclaim in 2010, earning a 99 percent “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes and earning almost $500 million at the box office.
Based on Cressida Cowell’s beloved book series, How to Train Your Dragon follows a young Viking named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, who befriends an injured dragon.
While both the source novel and the Dreamworks’ animated adaptation were set in a fictional Nordic Viking world, the live-action adaptation will reportedly cast British actress Nico Parker as Astrid, the love-interest of the film franchise’s main character.
Astrid is not featured in the original novel. She was reportedly created exclusively for the animated films, with Cowell’s approval. The character is hypothesized to be based off another female character featured in the books called Camicazi.
In the original Dreamworks film, Astrid is depicted as a blonde-haired, fair-skinned Viking woman. The live-action adaptation will feature a deviation on Astrid’s race and appearance with Parker, the daughter of award-winning actress Melanie Thandiwe Newton, cast in the role.
The role of Hiccup, the movie’s lead character, will be played by the Mason Thames. Thames was featured in the critically acclaimed film, The Black Phone.
Parker is known for her role alongside Pedro Pascal in the recent HBO Last of Us adaptation. Interestingly, Parker’s character in the show, Sarah, was also a blonde-haired girl with a pale complexion in the source material.
The announcement of Parker’s casting in the How To Train Your Dragon adaptation has stirred up controversy amongst fans of the original, many of whom are also expressing criticism of the adaptation’s decision to change Astrid’s role.
Collider reports that Astrid will “not be limited to the love interest trope,” and instead take on a different characterization in the movie. This change is reportedly being done in an effort to reflect the “evolution” of “female representation” since the original animated film was released.
The announcement of How To Train Your Dragon‘s casting for the live-action remake comes after weeks of controversy surrounding the race-swap of beloved Disney princess, Ariel, in the live-action Little Mermaid.
After widespread criticism, the film’s lead actress, Halle Bailey, responded to assertions that her casting choice was racially motivated. In an interview with Variety, Bailey explained that she had brushed off the negativity.
“I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater and it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it,” Bailey said.
The Little Mermaid also featured a change in role for the female lead, with Disney rewriting some of the scenes to make Ariel less dependent on Prince Eric for assistance.
The How To Train Your Dragon remake was announced in February. Dean DeBlois, who directed the film’s original trilogy, will return to steer the franchise into live-action territory.
Universal Pictures has slated the film’s release for March 14, 2025.