This list was an inevitability. After all, I went to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last night which featured one of the dragons on this list. That movie review will be appearing on your screens on Friday, by the way. One of the things I discovered in the compilation of this list is that there aren’t actually all that many draconic characters in movies. Sure, there are generic dragons that heroes fight, but few dragons that are actually characters with their own stories to tell. As a result, this list is a little shorter than my normal lists. Furthermore, I tried to stay away from people that turn into dragons (with one exception). Feel free to comment with your picks and opinions. I look forward to reading them. And now, in no particular order, here be dragons.
Draco – Dragonheart (1996)
Though it’s been ages since I’ve seen Dragonheart, I’ll always have a soft spot for the dragon whose generosity accidentally doomed many. Draco, a dragon voiced by the ever-awesome albeit occasionally problematic Sean Connery, gave part of his heart to save a young king (David Thewlis). His hope was that the king would rule wisely and well. This did not go as plan and, as such, the king’s mentor, Bowen (Dennis Quaid), blames the dragon for the king’s subsequent cruelty. He goes on a one-man quest to slay all of the dragons he can find. Draco is the last. When Bowen and Draco meet, an unlikely partnership is formed. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but you might want to have some tissues handy.
Elliott – Pete’s Dragon (1977)
I loved Pete’s Dragon growing up and I still adore it. There’s just something heart-warming about the tale of a boy and his dragon friend. On the run from Pete’s (Sean Marshall) wretched adopted family, the duo end up in Passamaquoddy, a town in Maine. I always thought they’d made up the name just to hear Jim Dale‘s Dr. Terminus stumble over it hilariously. I was wrong. While the town is fictional, there’s an actual Passamaquoddy Bay between Maine and Canada. In any event, Elliott (Charlie Callas), the dragon, and Pete are befriended by Nora (Helen Reddy) and her father, Lampie (Mickey Rooney). Elliott does his best to help his friends, old and new, while Dr. Terminus and his lackey, Hoagy (Red Buttons), scheme against them. For his dedication and singing ability, Elliott definitely earned his spot on this list.
Vermithax Pejorative – Dragonslayer (1981)
I didn’t see Dragonslayer until earlier this year. I’m just going to say that Vermithax Pejorative made an impression. All she wanted was to care for her children. They needed a regular diet of young female virgins. I’m not sure if that limitation was the result of some dietary restriction or due to the prevailing belief that maidens were the preferred meals of dragons. They never answer that question. Unfortunately, as this movie isn’t all about the dragon’s journey as a single mother, you can guess how this movie ends. Alas.
Smaug – The Hobbit (1977), The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Of course Smaug was going to be on this list. He’s been in three movies and has been the inspiration for so many dragons. Destroyer of cities and roaster of dwarves, he certainly earned the title of “chiefest of calamities.” While his downfall was inevitable and spectacular, you have to admit that he was a fascinating and witty character. In the recent Peter Jackson adaptations, I think that image is helped a great deal by the voice work of Benedict Cumberbatch. That said, I’ll always have a fondness for his portrayal in the Rankin/Bass adaptation. He was just fun with those headlight eyes.
Smrgol – Flight of Dragons (1982)
When I was thinking about this list today, it occurred to me that Smrgol (James Gregory) from Flight of Dragons essentially filled the role of the old cop mentor who was just a couple weeks shy of retirement. That explains why he doesn’t make it to the end. They even establish that he’s just coasting into retirement and he’s just too old for these quest shenanigans. I love the eye-rolling way he tries to teach protagonist Peter (John Ritter) about the basics of being a dragon. All things considered, he’s really rather patient with the guy. I’m not sure I could have been as patient in his situation.
Haku – Spirited Away (2001)
While I’d have loved to have included Maleficent (Eleanor Audley) on this list because she turns into a dragon and everything, I’d already included her on a list before and she’s more of a person who happens to turn into a dragon. Haku (Miyu Hirino), however, gets a pass because he spends a good chunk of the movie in his dragon form. Also, he’s a spirit. That’s totally different. Also, he’s from one of the most beloved Miyazaki films, Spirited Away. He definitely deserves a place here. He’s an integral part of Chihiro’s (Rumi Hiiragi) journey and a magnificent dragon.
Falkor – The NeverEnding Story (1984)
Some people find Falkor (Alan Oppenheimer) from The NeverEnding Story to be horrifying and traumatizing. I found him to be an adorable and awesome puppy dragon. Whenever I had problems with kids at school, I always imagined having Falkor hop into my life to help me get even with them like Bastian (Barrett Oliver) did in the movie. I loved the fur and scale thing he had going on and his can-do attitude. As a luck dragon, it only made sense that he was easy-going and had perfect timing. He’s always there when he’s needed. That makes him pretty awesome in my book.
Toothless – How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
While Falkor is a puppy dragon, Toothless (Randy Thom) from the How to Train Your Dragon films is decidedly catlike. I don’t have any cats in my life, but I’ve been around them often enough to recognize the traits in the Night Fury. The animators really outdid themselves with Toothless’ creation. While his scales are amazing, it’s the eyes that always capture me. I love their coloration and everything. I also love how loyal and loving he is with Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). They’re sweet and occasionally antagonistic friends, like many cats and their people. He’s just magnificent and awesome.