How To Train Your Dragon post, but there's actually more to it than that. One of the comments to my previous post expressed disappointment in Dreamworks over having Astrid, a strong female love interest, in the movie. The reasons given were that she wasn't in the book and the "strong female love interest" angle has been done many times before.
(Although, to be fair, 99% of the film wasn't in the book)
I feel this is something I need to counter. Not only do I believe that Astrid is a good character, I believe she's an example on how to present a character like this without being tired and cliché.
I'm avoiding major spoilers here, but I am discussing a character and how they fit in the plot, so yeah. MINOR SPOILERS be ahead.
1 - She is not out to prove what girls are capable of. With the exception of the main character, the village is full of badasses. Male, female, adult, child, they all either kick ass or aspire to, and the only one who is told they're a fool for doing so is the male lead, Hiccup. Nobody questions whether girls can kick ass. They know they can and respect them for it.
2 - She is not a jerk. Movies and TV shows often seem to think that the only way to portray a strong female character is to make them an uncaring, self-centered jackass. We as an audience are supposed to view them as strong and possibly even as role models, but if you took those same characters and made them men, they'd simply be jerks. There are, however, plenty of shows and movies that understand that being strong doesn't mean you have to be a jerk, and this movie is one of them.
3 - She is not tacked on. Astrid is a key character in the movie and is not an afterthought. She contributes to the story and isn't just there for Hiccup to fawn over.
4 - Relative to the rest of the vikings, she is fully clothed. While her outfit is unique, so is Hiccup's. It helps them stand out as main characters. I question the lack of a fur vest or cape, but at least she's not showing off her midriff. A lot of strong, action-oriented women wind up in skimpy outfits, but Astrid is not one of them. This is an especially good thing considering she looks like she's at most fourteen years old.
I would not mind seeing more characters portrayed as Astrid was with the rest of the characters treating them as Astrid was. I can understand the "she wasn't in the book" complaint, particularly if one was fond of the supporting male character whose role she effectively fills. Independent of that, however, I think she was a good character and a good example of a strong female character.