8 Famous dragons in pop culture to revisit this Chinese New Year
In ancient tales of myths and folklore, magnificent creatures such as unicorns, fairies, werewolves and mermaids roam the earth. However, one mythical beast that soars above all others in both size, power and beauty is that of the dragon.
Inspiring both fear and wonder, dragons have become quintessential parts of the fantasy genre in film and TV, attracting a wide audience and becoming the ultimate scene-stealers (we’re looking at you, Mushu). In Western media, dragons are generally portrayed to be four-legged fire-breathing beasts with wide wingspans. In Eastern cultures, they are often depicted to be wingless and with fluid, snake-like bodies.
To celebrate the Year of the Dragon this Chinese New Year, what better way than to revisit some of pop culture’s favourite dragons? Ahead, glean our picks of the best fire-breathing creatures seen in film and TV that stole our hearts.
If there’s one iconic animated dragon that is still being quoted to this day, it’s none other than Mushu from Disney’s Mulan (“dishonour on you, dishonour on your cow!”). Voiced by Eddie Murphy, he might be a lot smaller than the average dragon but he makes up for it in his loud personality. A fan-favourite character, Mushu wins all the points for being the begrudging protector of Mulan who hides his soft heart behind his silver-tongued humour and dry wit.
Toothless (How To Train Your Dragon)
Try to name a cuter animated dragon, we’ll wait. When it comes to pop culture dragons, no list is complete without this lovable character in How To Train Your Dragon who melted millions of audiences’ hearts with its adorable nature. Indeed, the heart of the franchise is the endearing relationship between Hiccup and the rare Night Fury breed (we’re absolutely jealous we can’t have a Toothless of our own). With its iconic obsidian-black scales and wide eyes, Toothless is a striking dragon that remains one of the most popular and distinct creatures in film.
Drogon (Game of Thrones)
When we talk about dragons in pop culture, you can bet Game of Thrones will be mentioned. After all, scenes where these ferocious beasts appear are some of the most anticipated and remembered episodes for fans of the HBO series. Drogon is arguably the most famous dragon in Westeros as it was Daenerys Targaryen’s personal dragon. It was pivotal in most of the leader’s epic battles such as the destruction of King’s Landing and invoked fear in anyone who saw it. Daenerys named Drogon after her late husband, Karl Drogo, and is characterised by red eyes, red-black wings and a ferocious loyalty to his mother.
Hungarian Horntail (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Out of all the Harry Potter films in the franchise, most fans regard The Goblet of Fire as one of their favourites. There’s the Triwizard Tournament with students from other wizardling schools; a mysterious conspiracy; and Robert Pattinson’s glorious head of hair. From the challenges Harry had to face, the one with the dragon stands out from the rest. Of course, he just had to get the most ferocious of the lot, the Hungarian Horntail. Regarded as the most feared and dangerous dragon in the Wizarding World, Harry had to face the beast with a spiked tail and black scales to retrieve its egg. Apart from asking a girl to the Yule Ball, this had to be one of the scariest things Harry had to do!
Meleys (House of the Dragon)
While dragons were used as powerful weapons in Game of Thrones, it is in House of the Dragon where these magnificent beasts take centre stage. Audiences were spoiled with many types of dragons of shapes and sizes in the prequel series and one that was particularly memorable is Meleys. The fearsome beast was ridden by Princess Rhaenys Targaryen and dominated battles. With its scarlet red scales and large size, Meleys was also called The Red Queen, a nickname befitting its rider Rhaenys, who was known as The Queen That Never Was.
Haku (Spirited Away)
The 2001 classic Spirited Away is one of the most famous animations of all time. It follows a 10-year-old girl, Chihiro, who has to venture into the spirit world of Kami after her parents are turned into pigs. To guide her on her journey, she employs the help of Haku, a gentle and whimsical river spirit who takes the form of a dragon. With its striking white skin, serpent-like body and long whiskers, Haku remains one of pop culture’s most enduring dragons.
Smaug (The Hobbit)
J.R.R Tolkein’s iconic literary works in the fantastical Middle Earth are vast and rich with mythical creatures and characters. One of the most memorable beasts in this universe is Smaug who was the main villain in The Hobbit. Known to be exceptionally cunning and sly, the greedy dragon lived in the Lonely Mountain surrounded by gold for 171 years. The fact that Benedict Cumberbatch voiced this character makes Smaug all the more unforgettable.
If you’re a K-pop fan, you knew this was coming. We can’t talk about iconic pop culture dragons without talking about the most famous dragon figure in K-pop himself. Born Kwon Ji Yong, the artist took on this stage name as he was born in the Year of the Dragon and ‘Kwon’ means dragon in Korean. Widely regarded as the King of K-pop, G-Dragon began his music career at just seven years old in a kid’s group and later became the leader of the legendary group, Big Bang. Not only is he talented in songwriting and composing, but the multidisciplinary artist also is creative when it comes to art and fashion, serving as a muse to high fashion brands such as Chanel.
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