Toy Story – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Toys live a secret life when people aren’t around, they are real

Call to Adventure

Andy gets a new toy for his birthday. Buzz Lightyear and he replaces Woody as Andy’s favourite toy

Refusal of the call

“Just a mistake. Let’s give it a nice welcome” Woody still believes he is the favourite. And after Buzz puts on his amazing display of falling with style, all the other toys are eager to be his friend and find out more about him. “They’ll see, I’m still Andy’s favourite.” Woody ominously mutters to himself.

Supernatural Aid

There is no true mentor in this story.  Woody serves as Buzz’s guide to a certain extent, teaching him about the ways of the world as Buzz has no clue.

Crossing the First Threshold

Woody accidentally/deliberately knocks Buzz out the window and the other toys throw Woody out the window as punishment.

Belly of the whale

They find themselves inside the arcade game which has the Claw as it’s God.

The Road of the trials

They constantly fight, Buzz refuses to acknowledge he is a toy and Woody desperately trying to get them back home to Andy.

Meeting with the Goddess

It’s a reversal of the Goddess. Sid is the opposite of the Goddess and intends on torturing and destroying the toys. Sid serves the same purpose as the Goddess and spurs them on to become heroes.

Atonement with the Father

Buzz learns that Woody was right all along; he is in fact just a toy.

Woman as Temptress

Buzz is tempted to give up on life when he learns about his true place in the world.

Atonement with the Father

Woody has his atonement when he is trapped in the crate and he realises his pride has led to his fall. His friends have abandoned him, he’s lost Andy and he’s most likely about to die.

Ultimate Boon

Woody and Buzz reconcile. They will work together for Andy’s sake.

Apotheosis

Woody and the other toys break the rules and come to life in front of Sid.

The Magic flight

They make a desperate chase to catch up to Andy in the removal van.

Rescue from without

Buzz uses his retractable wings to release them from the rocket before it explodes and fly them into the sun roof in the car.

The crossing of the return Threshold

They make it back into the car and Andy is happy he’s found them again.

Master of two worlds

Andy has filled his bedroom with both Buzz Lightyear space posers and Woody Wild West posters. They both are his equal toys.

Freedom to live

Woody and Buzz are happy to be side by side as Andy’s toy.

 

This is a buddy pic for Woody and Buzz, they both have something to learn. Buzz needs to learn that he’s just a toy and Woody needs to make the bigger emotional journey. He needs to learn to share Andy and that he doesn’t have to be his favorite toy.  They flip the stages of the hero’s journey between them or have beats that combine for both characters.

Kick-Ass The hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Dave Lizewski is just an ordinary young kid in New York. A standard nerd ignored by all the girls and into comic books. He ponders the notion as to why no one has ever just put on a costume and become a Superhero.

Call to Adventure

Dave gets mugged and has his phone and wallet stolen, again!

Refusal of the call

The refusal of the call comes from his friends Marty and Todd before the call to adventure, which is unusual. “Anyone who did that would just get their ass kicked. They’d be dead in a day.”

Supernatural Aid

Big Daddy is the Mentor for both Kick-Ass and Hit Girl.

Kick-Ass also has his powers increased by the surgery which has filled him full of metal plates and has frayed his nerve endings which means now has a higher pain threshold.

Crossing the First Threshold

Kick-Ass gets into a street fight and it goes viral online.

The Road of the trials

Learning how to be a Superhero when he’s really just a kid in a costume.

Meeting with the Goddess

He has a crush on Katie and she tells him about the drug dealer Rasul and he steps up to take on the drug dealer as the hero Kick-Ass

Belly of the whale

Kick-Ass tries to intimidate Rasul but fails and is captured. He is about to be castrated when Hit Girl comes in and rescues him

Woman as Temptress

Red Mist is the Temptress, Kick-Ass perceives his popularity as a threat to him. He’s jealous that Katie is excited by Red Mist and this exposes a weakness in him. When Red Mist contacts him, instead of ignoring him he agrees to meet. And then he exposes this threat

Apotheosis

Hit Girl is resurrected and back from the dead after she was thought killed by gun shot and blown out of the window by Red Mist.

Death of the mentor

Big Daddy is captured and set on fire during his rescue by Hit Girl

Atonement with the Father

Kick-Ass tells Hit Girl it’s all over but has a moment of self reflection and agrees to help Hit Girl get revenge for the death of her father because he feels it’s the right thing to do.

Ultimate Boon

Kick-Ass gets access to all Big Daddy’s weaponry and has the power to be a real Superhero

The Magic flight

Hit Girl goes to D’Amico’s head quarters and kills al the guards and faces off against D’Amico.

Rescue from without

D’Amico is too strong for Hit Girl and is about to kill her when Kick-Ass kills D’Amico with a bazooka.

The crossing of the return Threshold

Mindy and Dave Return to school as ordinary students, leaving the world of crime fighting behind.

Master of two worlds

Mindy and Dave retire from crime fighting and live normal lives as students happy in the knowledge that their exploits have inspired other heroes and the city is a safer place.

Freedom to live

The epilogue is a reversal of Freedom to live which leads into the sequel. Red Mist becomes the Mother Fucker and swears revenge against the people who killed his father.

I love this film, it’s excellent and Nic Cage’s Adam West is perfect. It’s a comedy but also a Superhero story. Freedom to live as a reversal and playing the refusal of the call BEFORE the call are unique elements to this story. Otherwise everything plays out as a standard Hero’s journey.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Four Turtles and a rat have been transformed into mutants by radioactive goo and have hidden from the outside world developing their ninja skills.

Call to Adventure

Raphael loses his Sai in a fight and news reporter April O’Neil keeps it in her bag. Essentially the outside world and their world have collided and things cannot be the same again.

Refusal of the call

Raphael tells Splinter he lost his Sai but he knows where it is and he says he can get it back. Splinter tells him not to worry about it and not to retrieve it Raphael disobeys him and when April when she is attacked by the Foot Clan Raphael protects her and brings her back unconscious to their lair, unknowingly revealing their hideout to a member of the Foot. “Our domain is in the shadow, stray from it reluctantly. For when you do, you must strike hard and fade away.”

Supernatural Aid

Splinter is the Mentor of the Turtles and has already trained them in the art of Ninjitsu.

Crossing the First Threshold

They return to their lair and find that Master Splinter is missing and their home has been destroyed.

Death of the mentor

An early death of the mentor moment, Splinter is missing however he has been training them for most of their lives. Their test is to see if they can put all the training they have already learnt into practice.

Belly of the whale

Raphael is nearly killed by the Foot when they are attacked by them at April’s apartment

The Road of the trials

They regroup at April’s family farm and refocus on training and getting their skills up once Raphael comes out his coma.

Meeting with the Goddess

Double duty for Splinter performing the role of Goddess as well as mentor? Danny is the son of April’s boss and Splinter inspires him to do the right thing after he came off track and joined the Foot. Danny is good but he has been led astray and is on the verge of a life of crime. (This one could go either way really as to whether or not he is serving the role of Mentor or Goddess)

Woman as Temptress

Danny is the victim of temptation in this story.

Atonement with the Father

Danny receives counsel from Splinter while he is a prisoner of the Foot and decides to do the right thing, and  help Casey release Splinter when he finds out that Shredder intends on having Splinter killed.

Apotheosis

Leonardo is able to contact Splinter through meditation and the rest of the Turtles share his vision. God like ability of knowledge.

Ultimate Boon

They unite in common purpose in order to rescue their Master.

The Magic flight

They return to New York and engage in a fight with the Foot. Now they are united they destroy the Foot and end up on roof top to face the Shredder.

Rescue from without

The Turtles are no match for Shredder, who is about to kill Leonardo when Splinter appears and lures Shredder to the edge of building by revealing he was the rat who left him scarred. He then throws Shredder over the edge into a garbage truck

The crossing of the return Threshold

Danny unites with his father and has left the life of crime and the Foot for good.

Master of two worlds

The Turtles have proved themselves as ninja fighters and they have also reconciled  into the real world with their friendships with Casey and April.

Freedom to live

Splinter suggests the “Cowabunga” as their phrase and the Turtle celebrate the defeat of their enemy. All is well for the Turtles.

 

This film took it’s story line from the original comics and added the pizza comedy elements that were added by the TV cartoon series. It went onto to gross around two hundred million at the box office making it one of the highest grossing independent films of all time. It flips a number of the stages of the hero’s journey onto Danny and his experience of falling into the Foot clan and then climbing his way back out through the help of the imprisoned Splinter. Out of all the films, this one was most respectful of the comic books and is the most entertaining. This clip, from the animated feature captured the visual aspect of the comic on film. I read a portion of the Michael Bay film and fell into depression because it was disappointingly dreadful. The Turtles is such a brilliant franchise it deserves better. Kudos to this version though, it’s awesome.

 

The Watchmen – The Hero’s journey breakdown

This is a true ensemble piece with no clear Hero’s journey for an individual. As a result, just like in Xmen 2, the stages are dropped onto different characters depending on who the story’s point of view is being told from at that particular moment. So I wouldn’t recommend reading this one first if you are unfamiliar with all the stages, instead, try reading Iron Man which has a more classic use of the journey.

Ordinary world

Superheros exist in the world, they helped win the Vietnam war but now they either work for the governemt or their vigilantism has been outlawed. The many flashback scenes through out the film flesh out the world

Call to Adventure

Rorschack believes someone is hunting and killing the Watchmen after an assassin kills The Comedian.

Refusal of the call

Rorschack tells Ozymandias about his theory that someone is hunting the Watchmen but he doesn’t believe him and regards the Russians as a far bigger threat to world peace.

Rorschack then seeks out the Night Owl and he doesn’t believe him either. Then he tracks down Dr Manhatten and Silk Spectre II to tell them but they are not interested either.

Supernatural Aid

These are all experienced heroes so generally they don’t need a mentor as they have a code they live by. Ozymandias is the closest character to a mentor in The Watchmen, everything that happens is by his design and all the other characters are rats in his maze. He is the most brilliant man on Earth and is the answer to the question “Who watches the Watchmen?”

Crossing the First Threshold

The Comedian is buried, a number of the heroes have flashback memories of the Comedian

Belly of the whale

Rorschack is framed for the murder of Moloch and imprisoned.

Dr Manhattan exiles himself to Mars

The Road of the trials

The investigations into Rorschack’s conspiracy theory.

Meeting with the Goddess

Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II become a couple. They want to ‘play superhero’ together. They both serve the purpose of the Goddess for each other by inspiring each other to be superheroes again.

However Silk Spectre II also serves as the Goddess for Dr Manhattan as he has lost his interest in mankind and no longer cares if they die or not. It’s her influence on him that brings him back to Earth to confront Ozymandias.

Death of the mentor

Rorschach and Nite Owl discover that Ozymandias is behind everything.

Atonement with the Father

Silk Spectre II discovers that The Comedian is her father. This explains to her why she has a broken relationship with her mother and why they will reconcile at the end of the film.

Apotheosis

Ozymandias reveals his entire elaborate plan, killing The Comedian and Moloch, arranging for the toxic gas to give people around Dr Manhattan cancer and setting off the explosions which will kill millions and Dr Mahattan will receive the blame. Apotheosis in this case refers to the God like knowledge of all the events of the story so far.

Ultimate Boon

Dr Manhattan  works out that Ozymandias is  responsible for the destruction and knows he’s at his lab in Antarctica. The Ultimate Boon refers to gaining the knowledge Dr Manhattan needs to complete the journey.

The Magic flight

Dr Manhattan teleports to the lab and gets fried in a reactor, similar to the one which created him. Slk Spectre II shoots Ozymandias and they think he’s dead but he actually caught the bullet and prepares to fight the remaining Watchmen. Dr. Manhattan resurrects himself and captures Ozymandias pretty easily.

Rescue from without

Rorschack refuses to go along with the plan and will reveal everything. Dr Manhattan is left with no choice and vaporizes him. Thus Ozymandias’ plan has been saved. This is an unusual type of Rescue from without however it serves the purpose of creating dramatic irony, an unexpected response. Essentially Dr Manhattan realises that Ozymandias’ plan is the best solution for all of humanity when he sees the Russians and the Americans uniting against him. Heroes often have to sacrifice themselves which is what, both Rorschack and Dr Manhattan do.

The crossing of the return Threshold

Dr Manhattan leaves the Earth in search of another galaxy and Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II leave Ozymandias alone in his lab.

Master of two worlds

Silk Spectre and Nite Owl return to New York City and will continue to fight crime.

Freedom to live

A young employee at the New Frontiersman gets the opportunity to publish the journal written by Rorschack

 

I couldn’t find any moment or character which fulfilled Woman as Temptress stage, which is fine as not all stories have to have each stage. Feel free to leave a note in the comments section if you see it.

The Hero’s journey can be extracted from this story and I think it’s a very creative use of hitting the beats by using different characters. If you have a story which is essentially following the journey but you feel it’s a bit predicatble, why not flip the stage onto another character or do a reversal where the opposite of the stage happens. This story also plays double down on a Meeting with the Goddess and Belly of the whale which is another option when you have multiple character with different story lines.

It’s a pretty interesting Superhero film in a number of ways; visually and content-wise.  One of the lead characters assassinates the President, attempts to rape one of the other heroes, eventually fathers her child and makes sexual advance towards his own daughter. No other Superhero film has gone that dark and has no stars, although after 300 you can say Zach Snyder is the film’s star.

Avatar – The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Jake is paraplegic marine on a deadly alien world set in the future.

Call to Adventure

Jake replaces his twin brother in the Avatar program and travels to another planet

Refusal of the call

There’s no true refusal from Jake, he simply begrudgingly accepts his lot in life. The refusal is flipped onto his Mentor Grace, who thinks it’s a terrible idea using a marine instead of scientist but is forced into accepting the situation because the military and the corporation are funding her operation

Supernatural Aid

Grace becomes his mentor and gives him his Avatar, opening  whole new world for him.

Crossing the First Threshold

Whilst on a scientific expedition into the forest, Jake becomes separated from the group when he has to escape from the Thanator

Belly of the whale

Jake is being hunted by animals, cornered and near death before he is rescued by Neytiri

The Road of the trials

Jake must learn the ways of the Na’vi. How to hunt, how to ride, how to capture his own Banshee

Meeting with the Goddess

Even though the actual Goddess on this planet is the Ewya, Neytiri is the Goddess who motivates Jake to become a hero “If you are one of us, help us.”

Woman as Temptress

Quaritch offers Jake a chance to get his real legs back, however in order to get he must betray his new people.

Death of the mentor

Grace is wounded during the escape and she cannot be saved

Atonement with the Father

Jake understands the Na’vi people and their connection to the world around them. He prays to Eywa to help them in their upcoming battle.

Apotheosis

Jake captures the Toruk Makto. This elevates him to a God like status.

Ultimate Boon

Jake becomes the leader of the Na’vi and rallies them to fight against the human invasion. Here he has completely integrated into his new people

The Magic flight

Jake leads the Na’vi in a battle against the humans.

Rescue from without

The battle appears lost but Eywa sends in her own army of the planet’s creatures and they tear through the soldiers.

The Magic flight

Jake and Neytiri fight the final battle against Quaritch

Rescue from without

Jake is about to be killed by Quaritch when Neytiri shoots him with her arrows

The crossing of the return Threshold

Neytiri sees Jake for the first time in his human form and breaking the barrier between the Na’vi and the human world for them.

Master of two worlds

They send the Humans back to their own world.

Freedom to live

Jake’s eyes open from inside his Avatar.

There are two final battles in this story, the first is humans versus Na’vi on a massive scale but then a second battle more personal battle between Protagonist and the Antagonist. This gives a more satisfying ending rather than Quaritch just dying randomly in some explosion in the sky.

The Terminator The Hero’s journey breakdown

Ordinary world

Sarah Conner is a waitress

Call to Adventure

Reece rescues Sarah from being killed by The Terminator

Refusal of the call

Reece tells her the story of the rise of Skynet and how two soldiers have been sent back in time, one man, one machine. One to kill, the other to protect, but she doesn’t believe this and tries to get out of the car.

Supernatural Aid

Reece comes from back from the future to rescue her with the aid of a time travelling machine and special knowledge that comes from having arrived form the future

Crossing the First Threshold

They go on the run from The Terminator

Belly of the whale

Reece is arrested and she falls asleep in the police station until The Terminator arrives and kills everyone. Reece is wounded.

The Road of the trials

The Terminator chases them and the trials are trying to avoid capture whilst at the same time Sarah is trying to come to terms with the situation she is in. And, of course, like all love stories the trials involve the two characters falling in love and the obstacles in the way of that.

Meeting with the Goddess

Reece is her love interest; he admires her for the woman she is about to become even though she’s just a waitress and barely a fully-grown woman at this stage.

Woman as Temptress

The police tell her that Reece is crazy and it’s all some made up story. She’s confused but inclined to believe them. If she does believe them then it will pull her away from her journey.

Atonement with the Father

This was cut out of the film but it’s when Sarah looks up Cyberdine in the phone book and wants to attack it and do to Skynet what it is trying to do to her son John.

You can watch it here

Apotheosis

The Apotheosis is flipped on The Terminator, he impersonates Sarah’s mother and gains special knowledge as to her whereabouts.

Ultimate Boon

Reece and Sarah make love and she becomes (although as yet unknowingly) the future mother of John Conner, leader of the resistance.

The Magic flight

The Terminator arrives at the motel and chases them again. They throw their home made grenades at him and the fight ends when the truck crashed and The Terminator is engulfed in flames.

The crossing of the return Threshold

Reece is injured and can barely stand, The Terminator is bashing down the door, suddenly we see a side of Sarah we haven’t seen yet. She yells at him to get to his feet and drags him up so they can escape. Giving us a glimpse of what the future Sarah and mother of the resistance leader is going to look like.

Death of the mentor / Rescue from without

Reece sacrifices his life in an attempt to blow The Terminator up. Although the explosion doesn’t kill The Terminator, it breaks it in two and gives Sarah a precious advantage so she can kill it.

Master of two worlds

“You’re terminated fucker.”

Freedom to live

She drives down the road, pregnant with knowledge of the storm that’s coming for humanity.

 

 

This is perfect story telling, both as a stand alone film and also when looked at within the context of it’s sequel T2.

Compare with

The Terminator – Save the cat beat sheet 

Superman The Hero’s Journey breakdown

Superman

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)

Apotheosis

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

The Matrix – The Hero’s Journey Stages

Ordinary world

Neo has a boring job as a programmer for a large software company

Call to Adventure

He receives a message to follow the white rabbit on his computer and meets Trinity in a nightclub and tells him she knows the answer to the Question “What is the Matrix”

Refusal of the call

Neo receives a call from Morpheus and is guided out onto to a ledge to escape the agents looking for him but becomes scared and says, “I can’t do this” and is taken away by the agents.

Supernatural Aid

Morpheus is his supernatural aid, he gives him the red pill to enable him to see the truth and then trains him to be able to overcome his thoughts that ae holding him back so he can manipulate the Matrix

Crossing the First Threshold

Neo chooses to swallow the red pill

Belly of the whale

Neo enters the real world in s liquid filled pod guarded by mechanized octopus like creatures

The Road of the trials

Neo learns about the Matrix and his potential role in it. He learns how to fight and who his friends are.

Meeting with the Goddess

Trinity is the bringer of love. She kisses Neo once he has been killed by Agent Smith which brings him back to life

Woman as Temptress

This stage is flipped onto Cypher. He succumbs to the temptation offered by Agent Smith as he desires to give up the real world and return to the Matrix. Showing what happens when you take the easy way out

Death of the mentor

Morpheus is captured by Agents.

Atonement with the Father

Neo understands what Morpheus was telling him when he said he had to believe he was “The One” in order to be able to manipulate the Matrix

Ultimate Boon

Neo gains the courage and insight to confront the Agents, he is improving in his ability to manipulate the Matrix at the same level as the Agents.

The Magic flight

Fighting against and being chased by Agent Smith

Rescue from without

Trinity saves his life by kissing him in the real world which revives him in the Matrix

The crossing of the return Threshold

He returns from death as the One.

Apotheosis

Neo gains the ability to see the Matrix and has become The One with God-like abilities.

Master of two worlds

He’s now the One and he has the girl

Freedom to live

He tells the Machines, I’m going to show the people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them the world without you.

 

This was one of the best sci-fi movies ever made with it’s unique stylised fighting and other imagery. The next two films really came off the rails but this first one is near perfect. Unusually in this story, Neo’s Apotheosis occurs at the end of third act rather than at the end of the second act.

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 

 

 

X-men The Hero’s Journey

Ordinary world

It’s a world where mutants exist and there is a political movement against them.

Call to Adventure

Rogue asks Wolverine for help

Refusal of the call

Initially Wolverine isn’t interested in helping her.

Supernatural Aid

Wolverine meets Charles Xavier when he wakes up in school for Mutants

Crossing the First Threshold

Wolverine agrees to stay at the school.

The Road of the trials

Wolverine struggles to fit in and accidentally stabs Rogue, she’s tricked into running away by Mystic and Wolverine goes after her.

Belly of the whale

Whilst in the train Magneto mangles Wolverine’s admantium frame.

Meeting with the Goddess

Rogue is the Goddess in this story, she inspires Wolverine’s heroism.

Woman as Temptress

Jean Grey is the Temptress, she’s a romantic distraction which could have an impact on him being part of the team if he gives in to it.

Death of the mentor

Mystic damages the Cerebro and then it knocks out Xavier

Atonement with the Father

Wolverine gets it; that he needs to be part of the Xmen

Apotheosis

Jean Grey uses the Cerebo to learn where Magneto is going.

Ultimate Boon

The X-men have become a team and they hop in the jet to rescue Rogue and stop Magneto’s plan to turn everyone into Mutants

The Magic flight

This is the fight between Magneto and the Xmen, they are trapped by their own mutant powers.

Rescue from without

The other Xmen help Wolverine get to Rogue.

The crossing of the return Threshold

Wolverine sacrifices himself to save Rogue and suffers extreme damage which looks like it’s unlikely he’ll be able to recover

Master of two worlds

Wolverine is part of the Xmen but he also has his own path to walk, learning about his past, working out why he is what he is.

Freedom to live

The world is changing, the anti-mutant law has been avoided and Magneto is imprisoned.