10 Best People-Related DreamWorks Protagonists

The 1990s saw the rise of two other animation companies that have since challenged Disney’s monopoly on the industry: Pixar and DreamWorks. While Pixar exists as a company under the Disney umbrella, DreamWorks started on its own until it was acquired by Universal. They established their brand on an anti-Disney platform, which brought them great success in the early 2000s.


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Over time, DreamWorks has continued to win over audiences with the heart and care put into their films. Their main characters in particular tend to have very strong personalities and writing, allowing audiences to relate to their situation and rejoice when they succeed.

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Zee

In the first DreamWorks movie Antz, Woody Allen plays an ant struggling to find its individuality in a colony of millions. While drowning his sorrows at the bar, he overhears an ant talking about the mythical Insectopia where all insects can live their own lives. He also has a chance encounter with the colony’s princess and falls in love.

Zee was an interesting choice for a first protagonist. While he fits the underdog archetype in most children’s movies, Allen plays him as a neurotic who spouts lots of quick jokes for older audience members. His wrestling with themes of individuality and conformity are themes everyone can relate to, made even more interesting since ants are literally meant to lay down their lives for the good of their colony.

Moses

As the pharaoh orders the death of one child from every Jewish household, a mother sends her child down the river, where he is adopted by the pharaoh’s wife. He grows as a prince until one day he learns the truth about his heritage and runs away. In the desert, he finds a new life that finally puts him in touch with God.

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The story of Moses has survived for thousands of years, and the DreamWorks version of The Prince of Egypt is one of the best adaptations. It focuses more on Moses’ struggle to do the right thing even if it means making an enemy of his brother, Ramses. It is largely thanks to by Val Kilmer amazing voice work, especially when he transitions from arrogant prince to humble shepherd.

Shrek

Deep in a fairytale realm lies the swampy home of the ogre Shrek. His life of solitude comes to an end when he encounters a talking donkey and then a host of fairy tale creatures who have been kicked out of their homes. It sets him on a quest to regain his privacy by rescuing a princess from a tower guarded by a dragon.

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In addition to his dry humor, Shrek is engaging because of his character’s tragedy. He’s so used to being judged as a monster before anyone knows him that he prefers to live alone. It also caused him to develop unhealthy defense mechanisms, which unfortunately cause him to jump to conclusions about others.

Martin

While Alex the Lion is the real main character of the Madagascar trilogy, Marty shared the protagonist’s place in the first film. After spending his entire life at the New York Zoo, Marty decides to try going into the wild after being encouraged by the zoo’s special agent penguins. This ends up getting him and his friends on a boat that would drop them off in Madagascar.

Unlike Alex, who needs the spotlight, Marty is more laid back and just goes with the flow. This allows him to adapt much better to new situations than his friends, whom he is always ready to help. Yet even he has his limits, and while he would never give up on Alex, he isn’t afraid to call him out when he acts insensitive.

Po

When the Valley of Peace is threatened in Kunfu Panda, Kung-Fu Master Oogway declares that it is time to choose the Dragon Warrior. To everyone’s surprise, he chooses Po, a panda who works in his father’s noodle restaurant. Although everyone claims that Oogway was wrong, Po tries his best to become the warrior everyone needs.

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Po’s greatest strengths are his enthusiasm and humility. He loves everything about Kung Fu and knows he is among the masters who have practiced the craft, so he never brags about his position and constantly praises their accomplishments. This attitude helps Po rise up after every loss and realize the unique potential in himself and others.

Hiccups

In order to prove himself to his father, Hiccup creates a machine capable of bringing down the most dangerous of dragons, a Nightfury. When he goes to finish the job, he discovers that the dragons are not as vicious as his people originally believed. Over time, he and the dragon, named Toothless, change the way of life of both species.

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Every movie of How to train your dragon trilogy is another major leap in Hiccup’s story. He goes from a scrawny kid who no one thinks can be worth anything to a capable leader who forges a lasting friendship between former enemies. It’s a strong story of overcoming both prejudice and your own inherent shortcomings.

Megamind

Two alien planets were destroyed by a black hole and both sent a single child to Earth. One was showered with praise and adopted the title Metroman, protector of Metro City. The other was shunned and punished, so he decided to use his intellect to become the greatest super villain, Megamind.

Megamind considers villainy his job because he’s never had a chance to be good, so he executes it with unparalleled style and brilliance. It makes it look more like a wrestling heel: it’s just a performance full of witty banter and theatrics. When it seems like he’s finally won, he loses the meaning of his life, which sets him on the path to reinventing himself.

Jack Frost

Jack Frost from Frozen lives a rather solitary existence. He does not remember his own past, and the children of the world cannot see or interact with him. As such, he chooses to live a carefree lifestyle spreading the cold and fun of winter until his fellow holiday icons come to recruit him to stop the Boogeyman.

Jack has one of the strongest hero-villain dynamics in all of DreamWorks. He and Pitch Black the Boogeyman want to be accepted by society, from which they have been ostracized due to their powers. Where they differ is that Jack wants to spread joy and encourage others to find ways to have fun, while Pitch wants to control others through fear.

turbo

Living in a tomato garden, Turbo spends his evenings watching race car VCRs and dreaming that one day he can race alongside the best. This mindset often gets him in trouble with the other Snails, including his older brother. However, after gaining super speed in a freak accident, his dream looks more like reality.

turbo doesn’t do much to deviate from the spunky underdog story, but it’s still a fun ride thanks to the titular character. Even though Turbo has faith in him, it’s not unwavering. When he makes a mistake, it weighs heavily on him, but luckily he surrounds himself with friends who support him and who can pick him up when he’s down.

yi

After her father’s death, Yi devoted herself to gathering enough money to travel through China as he had intended to do with her. This pursuit saw her push away her friends and family, and she stopped playing the violin for others. However, everything changes when she finds a young Yeti trying to return to Mount Everest.

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While Yi’s drive to fulfill her father’s dream is commendable, it’s also a cautionary tale of how unresolved grief can cause people to become isolated. By working so hard towards her goal, she is denying what she really needs: love and support to start healing. Abominable illustrates this through a moving sequence where, after confessing to his friends, his violin receives a magical upgrade.

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