The sequel to DreamWorks' 2010 hit, How to Train Your Dragon, seems in many ways poised to be even bigger and better than the original. We got an intense teaser trailer for the film back in July, and now we've got a new still, introducing an interesting new character, voiced by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett! Meet Valka.
The still comes via USA Today, who describe the character as "a maverick Dragon Rider who lives as a recluse in the Arctic." And in How to Train Your Dragon 2, Valka apparently becomes "a mentor of sorts to the young Viking hero of the first movie, Hiccup."
Hiccup and his loyal dragon Toothless stumble upon Valka, who is busy "springing dragons from traps and hiding them in a refuge away from the villainous dragon hunter Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and his No. 2, Eret (Kit Harington)."
Here's a bit more about the film and Valka's role in it:
"Her years of isolation and dealing with nothing but dragons and being very sympathetic to them has made her very distrusting of humans."
Hiccup considers Valka to be a guru in a way, and he is wowed by the relationship between her and her dragon Cloudjumper. While Toothless was created to look like a black panther, Cloudjumper has owl mannerisms and a second set of wings under his main ones that "can actually splay and become an X-wing," DeBlois says.
Hiccup is largely a pacifist, however, and can't grasp all of Valka's ideas, including hiding dragons and keeping them from coexisting with mankind.
"He both admires her but sees her as what his life could be like taken to the extreme," DeBlois says.
"Valka's life is not only learning about all (the dragons') secrets and ways and living among them, but also playing among them," he adds. "That's part of what she can show Hiccup, things he's never known about dragon behavior.''
Blanchett, who's earning lots of praise and nominations at the moment for her role in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, was approached by Dragon co-director and solo Dragon 2 director, Dean DeBlois, at the 2011 Oscar ceremony. There, DeBlois walked up and told the actress that he'd written her a part in the film; Blanchett, whose sons were big fans of the first film, accepted the role.
Expect the new trailer soon. HTTYD2 opens on 13th June, 2014 in the US, and 4th July, 2014 in the UK.