The_Dark_Knight_Rises_by_messenjahmatt

The Dark Knight Rises – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Bruce Wayne lives the life of a hermit in his house. He’s no longer the Batman because as a result of the Harvey Dent act he’s not needed.

Call to Adventure

Bane commences his plan to purify the world by destroying Gotham. He is an opponent of unprecedented strength, which no ordinary human can beat.

Refusal of the call

“The Batman has to come back.”

“What if he doesn’t exist anymore”

Crossing the First Threshold

Bane and his men attack the stock exchange and the Batman returns. The police go after him instead of Bane’s men, wanting him to pay for the murder of Dent eight years ago.

Meeting with the Goddess                            

Blake is the Goddess. He goes to Bruce Wayne and tells him that Commisioner Gordon has been shot and that he needs a return of the Batman. At first Bruce is uninterested but then Blake tells him his story of how he shares the same pain as Bruce that he is an orphan from crime. Blake also tells him that his orphanage used to be funded by the Wayne Foundation and at the end of the film Bruce donates Wayne manor to the orphans of Gotham.

Woman as Temptress

Alfred is the Temptress. He is the one who tells Bruce to hang up the cowl and walk away.  He tells him his dream of seeing him in café in Florence with his wife and children, happy.

Watch here

Belly of the whale

Cat woman leads the Batman into a trap and he must fight Bane. The Batman is no match for Bane and has his back broken.

The Road of the trials

Imprisoned in a dungeon in India, Bruce first has his back fixed and then he trains his body

and his mind to escape

Supernatural Aid

His prison inmates who at first heal him and then teach him what he needs to learn to rise up out of the prison

Apotheosis

Apotheosis can refer to a supernatural vision. Bruce sees a vision of a dead man, his former mentor Ra’s Al Ghul and learns from the vision that Bane is Ra’s heir, that he will continue the work of the league of shadows, that Gotham isn’t worth saving and must be allowed to die.

Atonement with the Father

He learns from the blind prisoner that he must regain his fear of death in order to be able to escape the prison, he must do the climb without the rope. Batman Begins was all about fear and the Batman put fear into the criminals of Gotham. Now, Bruce must reclaim his fear of death in order to live again.

Watch here

Ultimate Boon

The Batman has returned to Gotham. He has freed the police and is ready to face Bane.

Watch here

The Magic flight

It is two parts. The final fight of hand to hand combat VS Bane and then the chase through the city going after the Talia Al Ghul and the bomb.

Watch here

and here

Rescue from without

Bane is about to kill the Batman when Catwoman arrives on the Batpod and shoots Bane.

The crossing of the return Threshold

The final job of the hero is to save Gotham from being blown up. However, to do so means he must sacrifice himself. He flies the bomb out to sea where it explodes. This completes the job of Batman for the trilogy, he can now return to being Bruce Wayne.

Master of two worlds

Batman uses his resources to help the orphans of Gotham by donating his mansion to them. Batman has become immortalized in a statute as a symbol of justice and sacrifice. The people know who saved them – The Batman.

Freedom to live

Alfred sees Bruce and Selina at restaurant. They nod to each other but they don’t have to say anything to each other.  Bruce is free from the Batman, free to live.

 

 

joker

The Dark Knight – the Hero’s Journey stages

Ordinary world

The Batman has impacted on crime in Gotham, the Mob can’t do business like they used to and they don’t like it.

Call to Adventure

The Joker arrives on the crime scene in Gotham.

Refusal of the call

Batman ignores the Joker and focuses his attention on stopping the Mob “One man or the entire Mob. He can wait.”

Supernatural Aid

Lucious Fox is his mentor and supplies him with his equipment. Alfred also serves a role as a mentor but an emotional one.

Crossing the First Threshold

Batman agrees to help Harvey Dent and sets out to capture Lau.

Belly of the whale

Sometimes the Belly of the whale is about travelling a long way away. Bruce travels to Hong Kong and retrieves Lau.

The Road of the trials

Trying to catch the Joker and always being one step behind. The Joker wants Batman to reveal himself and public opinion is turning on Batman.

Meeting with the Goddess

The Goddess is Harvey Dent, he’s a good man who inspires Batman to be true hero. Batman supports him and embraces his values to bring justice to the city.

Woman as Temptress

Rachel makes a promise to Bruce that they would be together when he hangs up the mantle of Batman. In Batman Begins she was the Goddess but in this film she is the Temptress. She offers him a better life if he gives up his quest of being Batman.

But there is also a second temptress; Joker offers temptations and choice to Batman throughout the film. He tries to get Batman to violate his code of not killing. He tries to bring Batman down to his level and instead he succeeds by doing that to Harvey Dent.

Atonement with the Father

Alfred tells Bruce some men can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. Eventually Bruce understands that this is what he’s dealing with, with the Joker.

Apotheosis

He becomes all seeing (like a God) when he harnesses the cell phone sonar technology to spy on all of Gotham

Death of the mentor

Lucious Fox wants no more part in Batman’s activities and resigns from Wayne Enterprises as he believes no one should have the power he has when he uses the surveillance equipment

Ultimate Boon

He learns where the Joker is and able to face him, armed with the knowledge he’s incredibly clever dangerous lunatic. He knows the clown guards are really the hostages so he takes out the SWAT team so they don’t fall into Joker’s trap and kill the hostages thinking they’re taking out the guards. He’s worked out how the Joker operates and isn’t at the disadvantage of  being two steps behind the Joker’s plan like he has been up to this point.

The Magic flight

The final fight between Joker and Batman. Joker looks to have defeated Batman and is about to blow up the ferries but Batman nails him with a hidden weapon and saves the Joker from falling to his death. The Joker has lost but he has a victory of sorts because he proved he could corrupt Harvey Dent

Rescue from without

The passengers on both ferries don’t kill each other. This distracts Joker so Batman can fire his dart at him.

The crossing of the return Threshold

Batman goes to help save Gordon and his family from Harvey Two Face Dent having endured the trials of Joker and proved that he can live by his code. He must now break it in order to save Gordon.

Master of two worlds

Batman has defeated the Joker and sacrifices his own reputation instead of letting Dent lose his.

Freedom to live

He disappears into the night. Gotham has the hero it deserves not the hero it needs.

 

The Dark Knight is easily one of the best superhero movies of all time. Whilst this breakdown contains all the elements of the hero’s journey there are a number of key story beats from The Dark Knight missing from this list.  Rachel’s death for example, although it does lead to the Ultimate Boon for Batman.

You may also like to compare with:

Batman Begins 

 

 

1360346878854721_large

Batman Begins – The Hero’s journey stages

Batman Begins

Ordinary world

Bruce Wayne is the son of extraordinary wealthy parents and lives a sheltered life.

Call to Adventure

Bruce’s parents are murdered in front of him by a robber.

Refusal of the call

Bruce isn’t yet ready to take on the role of the Dark Knight, a man who can strike fear into criminals. Foolishly he takes a gun to kill the man who killed his parents but someone beats him to it. He needs to go on the journey first, to be worthy and to do that he must first learn what it is to be a criminal.

Supernatural Aid

Whilst in Bhutanese prison he meets Ra’s al Ghul and learns the ways of the League of Shadows.

Crossing the First Threshold

Bruce’s training begins, Teaching him how to fight but also giving him a code to live by.

The Road of the trials

The are two roads of the trials in Batman begins. The first is his training under Ra’s al Ghul where he learns his combat skills.

Meeting with the Goddess

Rachel Dawes is the assistant District Attorney and inspires Bruce to be good “It’s not who you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you.”

Woman as Temptress

Ra’s al Ghul asks him to execute a prisoner as part of his training. Bruce refuses and destroys the League of Shadows head quarters.

Second Supernatural aid

Lucius Fox supplies him with all his high tech military devices

Belly of the whale

Bruce enters the well which was the source of his fear as a child and discovers a bat cave. He decides to own the bat as his symbol to inspire fear into Gotham’s criminals

The second Road of the trials

Bruce develops his high tech equipment and becomes the Batman. He jumps off a roof and realizes he needs to have the ability to fly and develops a cape that can let him glide. He’s also learning how the city and police operate which enables him to become Batman.

Atonement with the Father

Lucius learns that Bruce is Batman when he is poisoned by The Scarecrow and Alfred has to contact Lucius to create a cure for the toxin. Now Bruce and his mentor are both on the page are are ‘at one with’ each other.

Apotheosis

Batman learns the plan to disperse the fear gas through a microwave dispersal in poison the entire city.

Ultimate Boon

He rescues Rachel in his Batcar while the police are in hot pursuit. He is no longer a struggling novice like he was earlier in the story. He is now a fully developed hero ready to take on Ra’s al Ghul.

The Death of the mentor

When Bruce discovers that Henri Ducard is really Ra’s al Ghul and then Ghul burns his house down.

The Magic flight

Bruce flies over the sealed off area of Gotham where criminals are running riot and then fights Ra’s al Ghul on the train to stop the toxin from being released onto the atmosphere, affecting everyone in the city.

Rescue from without

Gordon destroys the train bridge so the train cannot get to the centre and blow the city’s entire water supply.

The crossing of the return Threshold

Batman fights and Ra al Ghul, not as a student but as an equal.

Master of two worlds

“I’m not going to kill you but I don’t have to save you”

Freedom to live

Bruce buys his company back and Gotham has the Batman

 

 

Batman begins is brilliant story telling. Tricky, non-linear, and has two mentors and two separate road of the trials, this is unusual and very well executed.

You may also like to compare with:

The Dark Knight

This is my painting Master and Student. See more of my Artwork of Girls and Comics

 

ff_batman_bats_468

The hero’s journey – Death of the mentor

Death of the mentor

Joseph Campbell never listed this as one of his seventeen stages, however it is an extremely common step which usually occurs around the end of Act II. It’s significant because it marks the separation from the shelter of the mentor and that the hero must face the rest of the quest alone.

Star Wars – Darth Vader strikes down Obi Wan in front of Luke as they and now he must finish the journey without him.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie – Merrick is Buffy’s watcher, he’s killed by the vampire Lothos, at the end of the film Buffy had to face her mentor’s killer.

It doesn’t have to be a literal death either, it can mean that mentor has revealed his true self and is not someone the hero should follow.

Batman Begins – Henri Ducard was Bruce’s mentor and trained him to be the Batman. However when he revealed himself to be the true Ra’ Al Ghul at the end of the second act Bruce had to fight him and the League of Shadows.

Silence of the Lambs – When Hannibal escapes from his cell, Clarice is no longer able to call on him for the final act and must complete the search for Buffalo Bill without any more help.

 

Death – the act of dying or being killed

end, termination, cease, demise, release

 

Mentor – an advisor who trains

teacher, coach, authority, tutor, trainer

 

How to use it in your writing

If you want to make things really bad for your hero, kill off his teacher and then make him face that killer.

Flip the mentor so that the hero has learned the mentor was not just and righteous and make the hero go head to head with his former teacher who knows his weaknesses and his strength.

Return to the Hero’s journey Main page