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Why Dragons Get Bigger But Direwolves Stay The Same Size In Game of Thrones Season 3

Thanks to a recent production diary, we already know the dragons from HBO’s Game of Thrones are growing fast, but is that a good thing? And what about those giant direwolves, how much bigger can we expect them to get? Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss tell all. 

For me at least, Daenerys’ dragons are one of the best parts of Game of Thrones. I’ve read all of George R.R. Martin’s books so I at least know what’s coming but it’s exciting to see them brought to life on screen. In Season 3, the cast and crew relied on a model dragon to get their shots, and eyes, straight for filming. According to Entertainment Weekly, they’re now the size of medium dogs. Here’s what the showrunners told EW.

“This is an interesting time for the dragons,” Benioff says. “When they were born they were adorable. Last season, as you say, they were still kind of cute. But now they’re turning into proper flying dragons. One of the interesting things about the books, and hopefully the show, is that the weapons of mass destruction in this world are living breathing things. And as they get older that presents problems.”

“They’re still cute to Daenerys,” Weiss adds. “They’re her babies. But her babies can burn down a house in a few minutes and they’re getting increasingly terrifying to everyone around her. At some point she will have to reckon with the fact her babies are all grown up.”

They’ll be cute forever, I don’t care what anyone says.

The Stark’s direwolves are a different story. While they are meant to grow to epic proportions, there’s a limit to how far the creators are willing to go to stay true to the novels. Weiss said the reason is evolution – we know wolves are real and what they’re supposed to look like. “We did some testing and at a certain point they look unreal,” he said. “We reached a nice balance with them. And frankly, no matter how much money you spend on CG wolves — and we’ve seen the best that’s out there, state of the art, and some of it looks great — it still doesn’t look move and feel like a real animal.”

Have you been happy with the creatures of Game of Thrones so far?

(via Entertainment Weekly)

Previously in Game of Thrones

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  • Red

    I haven’t read the novels, so I’m coming at this from a purely film-related experience, but to me everything has looked great. Making wolves giant – bigger than a real-life one – does seem like it would be as problematic as they’ve described. I’ve seen the Twilight movies – yes, the CG is good, but no, it doesn’t look “real” by any means, and that is in a wildly popularly money-making Hollywood blockbuster with money being thrown at it. It can only be so good at this point when you’re working with millions of individual hairs on four-legged animal. I’d rather see a film focus on making as good film as they can with what they’re given, rather than make a laughing stock out of a book just because it’s technically more accurate. (Heresy, I know.)

  • Josh Evans

    As someone who has read the books, I fully support the creativity of translation to another medium. I don’t understand purists…a direct translation from one artform into another almost never works well, there must be changes made!

  • Elizabeth Compton

    I haven’t read the books, so, with minimal spoilers, how big are the direwolves supposed to get? I agree that they don’t look realistic past a certain size (about where they are now) but if they are supposed to be as big as barns or something, it seems like we could lose major plot points if they stay the couch size they are now.

  • Countermass

    I read all the books, but I don’t recall the measurements of the direwolves. I always pictured them as big as maybe a pony.

    I’m okay with the decision of HBO, but maybe if huge wolves worked with Mononoke, it could work with GoT too.

  • Lady Viridis

    I’ve been pretty happy with the S2 direwolves- it was a little awkward in S1 where they were pretty obviously Husky puppies and young dogs.

    The dragons have also been pretty good, although my dragon-obsessed inner 12 year old. would like to remind everyone that what the HBO show has given us are actually wyverns– dragons have 4 legs, wyverns only have 2.

  • Anonymous

    A Westerosi direwolf can theoretically grow to the size of a small pony. So, not barn-sized, but still bigger than you’re going to get on the show without turning the wolves CG.

  • Anonymous

    Totally agree. I don’t want those silly Twilight wolves in Game of Thrones.

  • Anonymous

    As a person who doesn’t like the show much, this one isn’t that big of a deal for me. I know that changes have to be made, and that money that wold go into making believable Direwolves would take away from everything else. My big thing is the pacing and characterization are bad at times.

  • Erin Carr

    Dire wolves actually existed at one point, and were the same size as Martin’s dire wolves. The real ones just went extinct around the same time as the wooly mammoth. So “realistic” is relative

  • 00000

    Actually they weren’t. He describes them as the size of a pony. Real dire wolves were never that big.

  • Eregyrn

    We have thousands of dire wolf skeletons that have been studied (from the La Brea Tarpits). Real dire wolves were not much taller or longer than modern gray wolves. What they were was HEAVIER, with more robust bones and musculature, which means they could take down larger prey.

    So if Martin’s dire wolves are described as being as tall as a pony, then they’re fantasy creatures, not based on the real creature.

    If the production could have gotten wolf stand-ins based on the largest subspecies of gray wolf, that probably would have helped. But it sounds like they are kind of limited by what they can get.