Superman The Hero’s Journey breakdown


Ordinary world

Zod is imprisoned.

Jor-El tells the council that their planet is about to explode

Call to Adventure

Jor-El sends his son to Planet Earth to save his life when their planet is about to explode.

Refusal of the call

Lara implores him not to send him

Supernatural Aid

Jor El gives his baby the Green crystal which has amassed all the knowledge of Krypton and puts it in the rocket.

When Kal-El lands on earth he meets another mentor, Johnathan Kent who guides Clark’s early years. Giving him a simple life with honest rewards.

Death of the mentor

Jonathan dies from a weak heart while racing Clark.

Crossing the First Threshold

Clark takes the green crystal and goes on pilgrimage to the tundra of the North to learn of his origin

Belly of the whale

He enters the Fortress of solitude as a boy and then emerges as a man.

The Road of the trials

The trials are about integrating into human society both as Clark Kent the reporter and as Superman

Meeting with the Goddess

Lois Lane is in peril, about to die in a helicopter crash when Superman reveals himself to humanity for the first time.

“You’ve got me, who’s got you?” (one of the best lines in any Superhero film ever)


He flies around earth at high speed and reverses time to save Lois

Ultimate Boon

Superman uses his super powers to hunt down Lex Luhor and faces him as a Superhero. He proves he is invulnerable to all Luthor’s initial attacks, however the Ultimate Boon stage is a reversal – His weakness for Kryptonite is exposed and he is nearly killed

Rescue from without

Miss Teschmacher removes the Kryptonite necklace from  Superman

The Magic flight

Superman flies to stop the two missiles. He succeeds with one but the other hits it’s target and Superman flies around saving people’s lives including people on a train and people on a school bus

The crossing of the return Threshold

Unfortunately can’t rescue Lois Lane in time and she dies. Superman refuses to accept this and flies off to reverse time.

Woman as Temptress

His love for Lois is what motivates him to disobey his father’s directive.

Atonement with the Father

“It is forbidden for you to interfere with the history of mankind.” Jor El

“Son, you were put here for a reason” Jonathan Kent

This is the dichotomy Superman faced, which he must reconcile in order to save Lois.

Master of two worlds

Superman saves everyone and drops Lex Luthor off in the prison yard and the Warden thanks him, Superman tells the Warden that they’re all on the same team.

He is a Super Hero and he can also be part of mankind.

Freedom to live

Superman flies into the atmosphere and gives us a wave. All is well.


This is one of my all time favorite Superhero films. Christopher Reeve and the script absolutely nail it in terms of what Superman is.

Interesting to note about this story is that it heavily loads the stages of the Hero’s Journey down the back end rather than spreading them out more evenly through the second act. Also, the Ultimate Boon stage is a reversal; it’s his weakness that is exposed.

The setup is superior to the Man of Steel and although the effects don’t compare to what is available today I think this is the superior film. (Although I will concede that flying around the Earth at high speed to turn back time is pretty lame and it also poses the question – Why didn’t he just fly that fast to stop the missiles in the first place?)

I stripped the music from Man of Steel first flight and replaced with Superman theme. watch it here

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