Avengers 2 – Three breakdowns – Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat and Anatomy of story 22 steps

Avengers 2 is a massive movie so I’ve done a massive breakdown using three popular templates; Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat and Anatomy of Story 22 steps. And also because I have delusions of grandeur and I like getting abused by total strangers on the internet I’ve included some thoughts on improving it’s structure.

Hero’s journey 

Call to Adventure

Tony Stark wants to create an artificial intelligence to defend the Earth

Refusal of the call

Bruce Banner warns him against it

Supernatural Aid

The stone inside Loki’s sceptre gives Stark and Banner the huge leap of knowledge to create the advanced level of artificial intelligence required for the Ultron project

Belly of the whale

Belly of the whale often has something to do with travelling to another place and the first hint of death. This happens in the cyber world when Ultron kills JARVIS.

Crossing the First Threshold

The Avengers fly to South Africa on the trail of Ultron

The Road of the trials

Road of the trials – All the Avengers, except for Hawkeye, must deal with their haunting hallucinations.

Meeting with the Goddess

Black Widow is the Goddess for The Hulk. His feelings for her inspire him to make a sacrifice at the end of the film to protect the one

he loves he must leave her

Woman as Temptress

Banner releases Natasha from Ultron’s prison and tells her we’re done, let’s leave and let the rest of the Avengers finish the job. She kisses him and sends him over the edge so that he transforms into the Hulk.

Atonement with the Father

The Atonement stage is about learning what’s right and getting an understanding of how you should be acting. Wanda learns of Ultron’s plans for human extinction and turns against him. She reveals to Captain America that Ultron gets his idea for saving the Earth by destroying it from Tony Stark.


Thor visits the magical pool and has a vision which reveals the meaning of his hallucination, he has had a vision.

Ultimate Boon

The Vision is created, the good embodiment of Stark’s original plan to defend the Earth. Now they actually have the ability to defeat Ultron

The Magic flight

Magic Flight – The city takes to the air with Ultron’s plan to wipe out the human race by turning a city into a giant meteor. The Avengers fight to stop him

Rescue from without

Nick Fury arrives with the Helicarrier

The crossing of the return Threshold

Hawkeye gives Wanda the speech about stepping out of the door and becoming an Avenger.

Master of two worlds

Master of two worlds – Vision destroys the final Ultron. We create that which will destroy us.

Freedom to live

Freedom to live – Hulk goes into hiding, Thor returns home, Hawkeye and Ironman appear to have retired. Captain America will lead the new team of Avengers.



Save the Cat

Opening Image

The Avengers working together as a team

Theme Stated

“We create that which destroys us” Ultron. It’s not at the start I know but it’s the theme of the film and he said it.

The Setup

The Avengers are a united team and recover Loki’s stolen sceptre

The Catalyst

Tony Stark wants to use the stone from the sceptre to create the Ultron Global defence program


Banner tries to convince him not to do it and they keep it hidden from the rest of the team but when the rest of the Avengers find out what he’s done they are less than impressed

Break into Act 2

The Avengers chase after Ultron to a South African ship yard

B Story

Banner and Black Widow are flirting with the idea of a relationship but Banner is wary of it because of his out of control condition

Fun and Games

Fighting against Ultron and the Twins. Hulkbuster vs Hulk

Mid point

They escape to Hawkeye’s secret farm and although they are slightly reeling from their fight against Ultron and the twins, Nick Fury arrives and tells them, previously they’ve had technology and resources but now they only have each other.

Bad guys close in

Ultron forces Dr Helen Cho to use her synthetic tissue technology to build a new body for him.

All is lost

They chase after Ultron through the streets of Seoul and recover the partially complete body for Ultron but Black Widow is captured during the fight

Dark night of the soul

Wanda reveals to Captain America she’s seen into Tony Stark’s mind and that Ultron’s insanity mirrors that of Tony’s. The Avengers fight over whether or not to install JARVIS into the partially completed body.

Break into three

The Twins and Vision join the Avengers in the attack against Ultron at his stronghold in Sokovia


Gather team

Black Widow kisses Banner and shoves him over the edge so that he transforms into the Hulk. The whole team is now assembled

Storm the castle

They attack Ultron’s stronghold but Ultron uses the Vibramium to lift the entire city into the sky so that it will crash down back to Earth like a meteorite and be an extinction event for the humans, similar to what wiped out the dinosaurs

Dig down deep

They evacuate the city and defend the trigger against a final Ultron onslaught

Execution of new plan

Iron man from below and Thor from above detonate the evacuated city and save the world

Final Image

A new team has been assembled


The Anatomy of story 22 steps

Act 1

Self-Realization, Need, Desire

Tony wants to use his brilliant mind to create something that can protect the world, but he does so with a recklessness that disregards risk

Ghost & Context

Tony has a fear of the world destroyed and the Avengers defeated by an alien invasion and he didn’t do enough to save it. Remember in Avengers Tony put his life on the line to save the Earth but in Iron Man 3 he was struggling with his nightmares of it.


Tony is brilliant but reckless. He may act without thinking. “I have a plan, attack.” (from the first Avengers)

Inciting Incident

They recover the stone from Loki’s scepter to create an artificial intelligence with enough power to defend the world.

Overall Desire (start low)

Tony wants to create an armour around the planet to protect it in the same way the Ironman armor protects him. – The Ultron project.


The Avengers Team




The Twins

1st Reversal & Decision: changed desire & motive

The Avengers are attacked by Ultron

Act 2


Track down and destroy Ultron

Opponent’s Plan & 1st Counter Attack

Recruit the twins to help him and then obtain vibramium to help him annihilate humanity


Pursue Ultron to a shipyard in South Africa and fight Ultron and the Twins

Attack by Ally

There is a physical attack by Ally in Hulkbuster Vs Hulk but a moral one comes later at the farm when Captain America and Tony Stark have the argument over “Every time people try to win a war before it starts, people die, every time.”



Apparent Defeat

Ultron escapes with the Vibramium and the Avengers are not the most popular people in the world because Hulk destroyed a city

2nd Reversal & Decision: obsessive drive, changed desire & motive

Chase Ultron to South Korea and stop him from uploading himself into his perfect form

Audience revelation about opponent-ally

The Twins discover Ultron’s true objective and they turn against him and join the Avengers

3rd Reversal & Decision

With the Vision as part team they are going to confront Ultron and eliminate him.

Act 3

Gate, Gauntlet, Visit to Death

Attacking Ultron’s stronghold in Sokovia


They fight Ultron and his robot army as they evacuate the city

Self-Revelation/Thematic Revelation

Before Vision kills the final Ultron they both articulate their views on humanity and world order. Ultron represents Tony’s dark side and Vision represents his good.

Moral Decision

Tony decides to retire on a farm with Pepper.

New Equilibrium

A number of the original members of the team have gone their separate ways and Captain America is going to lead the new team of Avengers



Suggestions on how to improve it

Ultron killing Jarvis and going crazy seems more like the Mid point of the film rather than early on in Act I. If Tony had started the Ultron project in secret and it worked well at first, then Ultron slowly realised he was a sentient being. Then, the revelation to the team that Stark was hiding it from the team the whole time would have been stronger and led to the team breaking up somewhere towards the end of Act II. That’s a more classic structure framework for this set up.

Not sure about how they played the Black Widow/Banner love story. I would have liked to have seen Black Widow attempt to calm the Hulk when he was angry in South Africa but in the process Hulk injured her. This would have added to Banner not wanting to get involved with her because he doesn’t want to hurt her. In the film, it’s not quite perfect because at the start of Act III Banner wants to run away with Natasha and let the rest of the team fight Ultron. There doesn’t seem to be any moment in Act III where Banner’s motivation has changed and yet it does.

Not sure what they got out of hiding out in Hawkeye’s farm? Ultron is stealing vibramium and attempting to steal nuclear codes and they’re going to kick it back for a while on a farm. It took away from the urgency a little.

Did Ultron really need to recruit the twins? There was nothing compelling for him which required the use their powers. He’s got thousands of robots, why involve those two? He even uses the sceptre stone on Helen Cho, he should have used Scarlet Witch for this but even then he didn’t really have to as he could have just used the threat of violence on her.




Book, stage or screen?

This innovative course is the way to move your project forward and sometimes it might not be in the direction you already thought of.

Samantha Napier, author of Dating the Alphabet and Gordon Napier AWG competition winner and writer/director of the feature film Hannah and the Hasbian will share their experiences in how they reinvented their stalled projects and found an audience.

Some of the most successful stories have started in another medium, Strictly Ballroom debuted as a play then became a film and now is a musical.  Graeme Simsion first wrote The Rosie Project as screenplay, when it became clear it wouldn’t be made he turned it into a book which was so successful it’s now being made into a film.  The hugely popular Annoying Orange started as an online sketch it was turned into an online series then a TV series and also now includes books.

These are all examples of creators who began with one idea, transformed it into another format and found success.

More opportunities exist for writers than ever before; a book, eBook, play, film, TV, Online video, pod cast. Stories and concepts are malleable, if you find a story you’ve created has stalled in it’s current form, it may be given new life in another form.

This course outlines all the alternatives for writers to get their work in front of an audience.

Each format has it’s own unique conventions and opportunities. The goal of the course is to equip the attendees with the knowledge of what’s available and how that could assist them in achieving their original goal or even transcend it.


We can offer a condensed two hour course which can give a general overview or a more comprehensive six hour course.

Two hour course


Samantha and Gordon share their experiences with their projects

Overview of different mediums, books, stage and screen

Places and resources you can access locally and online

Practical exercise



Six hour course


Samantha and Gordon share their experiences with their projects

Overview of different mediums, book, stage and screen

Gordon outlines the structure of story through ‘The Heroes Journey’

Practical exercises

Lunch break

Videos from industry people giving practical advice

Places and resources you can access locally and online

Practical exercises including loglines and pitching



Samantha Napier‘s book Dating the Alphabet is available through HarperCollins.


The Terminator – Save the cat beat sheet

Opening Image – Machines crushing human skulls. Machines dominating humans in a futuristic world of no hope.

Theme Stated – Sarah’s co-worker says “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” It implies that what they are doing today is unimportant but soon we are going to find out that we do today is going to be important for the future.

Set up – The Terminator and Kyle Reese arrive from the future, one to kill, the other to protect Sarah Connor, a waitress.

Catalyst – The Terminator kills a woman named Sarah Connor and Sarah sees it on the news.

Debate – She ignores the first incident when one of the other Sarah Connors is killed but panics when the second one is killed and calls the police.

Break into two – The Terminator attempts to kill Sarah and Kyle jumps into to protect her. “Come with me if you want to live.” Sarah makes the decision to go with Kyle to get away from the Terminator.

B-Story – The love story between Kyle and Sarah.

Fun and Games – A couple of chase scenes trying to escape The Terminator and exposition revealed through action.

Midpoint – They are taken into police custody. Sarah is told by the police psychiatrist that Kyle is crazy and she begins to believe them, however, the Terminator blasts his way through the station killing everyone. Kyle finds her and she clings to him for her life. For the rest of the film she is totally committed to believing Kyle.

Bad Guys close in – They run away and hide from the Terminator who returns to his hotel room to repair himself. (I know, this is the opposite of  Bad Guys closing in because they are putting distance between themselves and the Terminator but I think the mid point of the film is definitely Sarah committing to Reece and trusting him completely with her life. But where does this leave the beat of Bad guys close in? You could argue I suppose that the Mid point is when they are taken into police custody and it’s a down moment but I think it fits better. Please feel free to argue you point in the comments section if you have a different opinion.)

All is lost – Sarah unknowingly gives away their location thinking she’s talking to her mother.

Dark Night of the soul – Sarah is down, she worries that the Terminator will never stop until he kills her. Kyle tells her he’s always respected her as the woman who trained John and more importantly that he’s loved her all this time. They make love.

Break into three – The Terminator has tracked them down to the hotel

Rally the troops – They construct weapons with the supplies Reece bought.

Storm the castle – Another chase involving hand made dynamite, crashing and swapping vehicles, eventually blowing up the truck the Terminator hijacked.

High tower surprise – The Terminator emerges from the fire of the truck.

Dig down deep – They run into the factory and must battle the Terminator’s skeleton

Victory or defeat – “You’re terminated f@cker!” and crushes him to death. (Removed from the theatrical cut was the scene where Cyberdine engineers discover the chip and the hand of the crushed Terminator)

Final image – She’s alive and preparing for the war against humanity with the unborn child inside her. There is some hope for the future.


Compare with

The Terminator  – The hero’s journey stages

The Next Star Wars films

Lord Fitzroy Richard Somerset Raglan studied ancient Myths in a similar way to Joseph Campbell, his best known work, The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, was published in 1936. He broke down myths and came up the 22 common traits of god-heroes. Let’s have a look at the list and see how well it fits with the Star Wars Sage and what it suggests would be traditional themes for the next movies to explore.

  1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin;
  2. His father is a king, and
  3. Often a near relative of his mother, but
  4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
  5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
  6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
  7. He is spirited away, and
  8. Reared by foster parents in a far country.
  9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
  10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
  11. After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,
  12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
  13. Becomes king.
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
  15. Prescribes laws, but
  16. Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
  17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
  18. He meets a mysterious death,
  19. Often at the top of a hill.
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
  21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
  22. He has one or more holy sepulchers.


How they apply to Star Wars

  1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin; Padme was the Queen of the Naboo
  2. His father is a king, and   Vader was not a true King as he was in service of the Emperor, but he was the Dark Lord
  3. Often a near relative of his mother, but     This one doesn’t fit
  4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and   Yes, Luke and Anakin had unusual births and conception
  5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god.   This one fits better with Anakin than Luke
  6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grandfather, to kill him, but   Anakin attempts to kill Padme just before their birth
  7. He is spirited away, and      Obi Wan hid Luke and Leia from Darth
  8. Reared by foster parents in a far country. Uncle Owen and Aunt Peru
  9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but    Very little is known
  10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom. This journey begins in A New Hope
  11. After a victory over the king, and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast,  This is when he defeats The Emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi
  12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor, and
  13. Becomes king.
  14. For a time he reigns uneventfully, and
  15. Prescribes laws, but
  16. Later loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and
  17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
  18. He meets a mysterious death,
  19. Often at the top of a hill.
  20. His children, if any, do not succeed him.
  21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
  22. He has one or more holy sepulchers.


The steps from 12-22 are what the new series would touch on according to stages of the God-hero. The first eleven steps fit the Star Wars saga nicely, no story has all of the stages, but these are the stages which appear in God-hero stories on a regular basis.

12. Unlikely Luke marries Leia, although they have already kissed. But Han certainly would have married her.

13. Han would be a good King in the traditional sense, whereas Luke would most likely play a role of King as the man who restored the Jedi order.

14 and 15 This would be the period of the back story for the sequels

16. This would be an interesting beginning for the sequels, the dark side of the force could rear it’s head again and turn popular opinion against the Jedi

17. This would be some sort of revolution and the rebels are the bad guys

18. Luke is killed, at the hands of a dark Jedi

19. At the top of  hill is any place of significance symbolic of being close to God. In the context of Star Wars, God is represented by The Force.

20. If there is a revolution, the children of the former King are hunted and executed. This could be Luke’s children or Han and Leia’s. 

21. I’d expect his body to become one with the Force as did Obi Wan

22. Again, in Star Wars, Sepulchers are a monument where dead people reside, a tomb, but he would most likely play the ghost sage.

Iron Man – Save the Cat Beat Sheet

Iron man Save the cat Beat sheet



Opening image – Tony Stark in an APC with military guards living a carefree life.

Theme stated – “Yeah, peace. I love peace. I’d be out of a job with peace.” He doesn’t see the human cost of war, only the profit. He will learn to better appreciate the value of each.

Set up – Tony is a genius, billionaire, playboy making his fortune from weapons manufacture.

The Catalyst – He’s captured by terrorists and forced to build a weapon for them.

Debate – He refuses but is tortured until he agrees to do it. Secretly he’s building a suit of armor so he can make his escape.

Break into two – He escapes the terrorist camp as Iron man and returns to America and the first thing he does is announce that Stark Industries will be getting out of the weapons manufacturing industry

B Story – Tony Stark’s new outlook on life transforms his working relationship with Pepper Potts into romance.

Fun and Games – Tony builds and tests his new Iron man suit and has to deal with his company trying to remove him.

Mid Point –  Tony flies to Gulmira as Iron man and protects the innocents.

The bad guys close in – Obadiah is working with the terrorists. He wanted Tony killed. Tony learns his company has been illegally trading weapons with the enemy. Obadiah knows that Pepper was spying on him.

All is lost –  Obadiah paralyses Tony and steals the arc reactor out of his chest

Dark night of the soul – Tony staggers into his laboratory and replaces his chest arc reactor.

Break into Act three – Tony flies to his head quarters to face Obadiah

Gathering the team – Pepper and SHEILD move in on Obadiah and he attacks them as Iron Monger.

Storm the castle – Iron Man and Iron Monger fight throughout the city

Dig down deep – He makes a dangerous play, flying to a very high altitude with hardly any power left to trick Iron Monger to follow him and make him suffer the icing problem

Execution of new plan – Iron Monger survived the fall and Iron Man lures him over the giant arc reactor and makes it explode

Victory – Tony, with the help of Pepper defeats Iron Monger

Final image – Tony Stark declaring he is Iron Man to the world.


Compare with Iron man – The Hero’s journey


Aliens – Save the Cat Beat Sheet


Opening image

Ripley floating alone in hypersleep.

Theme stated

“If one of those things gets down here then that will be all. Then all this bullshit you think is so important you can just kiss all that goodbye.”

It’s a deadly situation and no one seems to be listening to Ripley or giving her the respect she deserves.

In the directors cut there is a scene where Ripley lost her child , so motherhood is the theme and this ties in nicely with the B story and the mother alien but it wasn’t in the theatrical release. Is it possible to remove the scene which states the theme and still have that as the theme of the film? Often the Dark Night of the soul moment is a moment where the hero acknowledges, understands, accepts the theme. Motherhood, where someone is willing to sacrifice their own life for their child. The Alien Queen is also a mother facing obliteration from Ripley. Most accurately the theme is Motherhood in a deadly situation.

Ripley is recovering from spending fifty seven years in hypersleep, suffering from post traumatic stress and her employers don’t believe her story about what happened to the ship.

Inciting Incident
Burke tells Ripley they’ve lost contact with the colony.

Burke wants her to go as a consultant but she isn’t refuses to go until she wakes from a nightmare and feels like the only way to end the nightmares is to face the fear.

Break into two

She flies to the planet with the Colonial Marines.

B story

Often the B story is the love story and in this case it’s motherly love. Ripley lost her daughter at the start of the film and the B story is maternal love story between Ripley and Newt

Fun and Games

They explore the empty space colony and discover clues as to what happened. They discover where the entire population of the colony is located and the marines go in after them

They enter the alien lair and the aliens kill some of the marines and Ripley rescues them but their shuttle crashes and they are stranded on the planet.

Bad Guys Close In:
Burke releases two face huggers to get Ripley and Newt implanted with aliens and the stations nuclear reactor is going to explode.

All is Lost
The aliens infiltrate all the defences and kill the remaining marines except for Hicks. Newt is taken by the aliens and Hick is wounded by the alien acid blood.

Dark Night of the Soul

They get the shuttle but they can’t leave because Ripley has to go back and save Newt

Break into three

Ripley enters the hive to save Newt

Gather the team
Ripley’s on her own but assembles her weapons and fortifies herself for the upcoming battle.

Storm the Castle:
Ripley blasts her way into the hive, saves Newt, burns all the eggs and has the alien queen chasing after her in hot pursuit.

High Tower Surprise:
They think they escaped but the alien queen hid on their craft.

Dig Down Deep:
Ripley in a loading suit fights the alien queen.

Victory (or Defeat):
The alien queen is sucked into space. Not bad for a human.

Final image

Ripley and her new family, asleep in their pods


You can also find the links for

Alien – The Hero’s Journey stages

Alien – The Save the Cat beat sheet

Aliens – The Save the Cat beat sheet

Aliens – The Hero’s Journey stages

Hero’s journey and Save the Cat work very well in concert with each other. If you’ve discovered one but not the other I recommend having a look.

Alien – Save the cat Beat sheet


Opening image

The Nostromo star ship in the middle of space

Theme stated

“Anybody ever tell you that you look dead?” You’re doomed and you don’t know it yet.

Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo wake up after their hyper sleep

The computer woke them up because it detected a strange signal which may be a distress call.

Parker and Brett don’t want to go as it’s not their job and but they are contracted to go and so they must. Ripley and Ash have a soft argument over whether or not the signal is a warning or a SOS.


Break into Two

They land on the planet and Kane ends up with a face hugger

B Story

The closest thing to the B story is her relationship with Ash the robot. It’s the secret smaller battle going on while the larger battle between the crew and the alien is happening.

Fun and Games

This bizarre alien creature has acid for blood and can’t be removed from Kane’s face. However a short time later the creature just falls off his face and Kane seems fine.


The Chest burster explodes out of Kane and runs away.

Bad Guys Close In:
The creature grows and kills Brett. Dallas arms himself with a flamethrower and goes after it in the vents but he is killed as well

All is Lost:
Ripley gets access to Mother and discovers the real reason behind Ash’s behaviour. He has orders from the company to protect the alien and the crew is expendable. Ash tries to kill Ripley but she is saved by Parker

Dark Night of the Soul:
They find out from the robot they have no chance to survive, they are in the middle of deep space and their company wants them

Break into three:
They decide to take their chances and make the ship self destruct..

Gathering the team:
Lambert and Parker are killed by the Alien and Ripley is the last one standing.

Storm the Castle:
She executes the plan to self destruct the ship.

High Tower Surprise:
The Nostromo explodes and she thinks she’s safe but the alien is onboard with her. Surprise!

Dig Down Deep:
Ripley has to put on her space suit and strap herself into her seat without alerting the alien to her presence.

Execution of new plan

She opens the airlock to purge the cabin to suck the alien out to space

Victory (or Defeat):
She returns to hypersleep and the Alien is dead.

Closing image

The escape pod deep in space.


You can also find the links for

Alien – The Hero’s Journey stages

Alien – The Save the Cat beat sheet

Aliens – The Save the Cat beat sheet

Aliens – The Hero’s Journey stages

Hero’s journey and Save the Cat work very well in concert with each other. If you’ve discovered one but not the other I recommend having a look.