Year of the dragon: Firebreathers reign in pop culture
Vampires and zombies may have invaded pop culture in 2011, but Monday marks the beginning of the lunar new year and, according to the Chinese zodiac, the year of the dragon.
It’s a fitting title for a year that promises some screen time for the fire-breathing beasts of literature. J.R.R. Tolkien’s treasure-hording dragon Smaug is being brought to life in Peter Jackson’s upcoming films based on “The Hobbit.” Season 2 of the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” shines a spotlight on Viserion, Rhaegal and Drogon, the baby dragons hatched by the exiled princess Daenerys Targaryen in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. And the Syfy series “Merlin,” now in its fourth season, brings a new character to the King Arthur mythology: The Great Dragon Kilgharrah, whose complex relationship with Merlin, the last dragonlord, provides much of the series’ suspense.
Meanwhile, baby dragon Spike from the Hub TV show “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” is drawing a crowd of fans (many of them teenage boys who call themselves “bronies”). Hub is airing a Year of the Dragon marathon on Sunday and Monday, with “Pony” episodes that prominently feature Spike. And Hayao Miyazaki’s dragon (and spirit of the river) character Haku will soar on the big screen when the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood screens the Academy Award-winning film “Spirited Away” on Feb. 7.
From the gigantic winged beasts in the “Harry Potter” films to the ferocious monsters in the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to the puppy-like luck-dragon Falkor in “The NeverEnding Story,” here’s a look at some of the most memorable dragons in entertainment.
– Noelene Clark
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