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.