Hero's Journeys

Bass

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I'm doing some research for a script I'm working on and I need a list of examples to consider.

What I'm specifically looking for are "Hero's Journeys". Obviously, there are variations on this, but I'm after a list of examples.

This is my current list that I will append with examples you guys give me;

STAR WARS (the first trilogy)
THE LORD OF THE RINGS (trilogy)
STAR TREK (XI)
THE MATRIX
THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE (1986)
HERCULES (Disney)
THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE
AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (both cartoon and movie)
HAPPY GILMORE

Now, I've codified this sub-genre as action/adventure which basically works like this; young, immature boy encounters a McGuffin that he must protect, a wise old mentor teaches him how to protect it, the mentor croaks, and the boy becomes a hero and saves the world. There are of course variations; Morpheus doesn't die, HAPPY GILMORE isn't an action/adventure and so on. So please, offer anything. If it's not what I'm looking for, all it will do is help me define the boundaries of the sub-genre more and help me answer some of my key questions: what is the difference between an origin story and a hero's journey? (You'll notice none of the superhero origin stories are in there such as THE ROCKETEER, IRON MAN, or ORGAZMO.) What makes a hero's journey feel complete and not a set-up for a franchise? What really constitutes a hero's journey? What's the difference between a hero's journey and just a voyage? (Are BACK TO THE FUTURE, MEN IN BLACK, GALAXY QUEST, and GHOSTBUSTERS hero's journeys?) And finally, does the technique of having the hero exist in contemporary society and end up somehow transported into this fantasy realm inherently ruin the story? (It certainly did with THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, but it's okay in LABYRINTH... but is that a hero's journey?)

I'm so much not looking for answers here (though feel free to chime in) but more examples of what you would consider a hero's journey. Anything is fine. Throw me curve balls. The biggest leap in understanding the genre for me came when I realised that HAPPY GILMORE is a hero's journey mixed with a sports comedy.

Thanks.
 

bluebeast

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I'd say Kingdom of Heaven is a great example, the newest Tron as well.
 

Random

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Well I remember having a class the describe the Hero's Journey as an individual who ventures out in the world and brings something back to his community. The usual example was Theseus going to defeat the Minotaur and bringing back freedom from sacrificial ritual to his people. Think Batman Begins, going out learning all he can and using that to save his home of gotham. Tron Legacy, he goes into the computer world and returns to the company with a new sense of purpose. And so on. Though I don't think that's necessary, you could always leave it more open ended, as in "The Adventure Continues". Though sometimes with that people either think or intend to see a sequel. And since you don't want a franchise set up that can be tricky. The main idea at the end is to have closure, if all the themes, characters and situations come to a satisfying end then you could have "the adventure never truly ends"

It's tough to avoid the Super hero origin idea because there's a lot in common with the basic hero's journey. I think it's just that in our minds, Super hero comic, cartoons, movies are all set to go on forever no matter what, so that effects our views on the origin. So you might just want to avoid superheroes altogether. But again to have it feel like a journey not a set up have complete resolution in the end.

As for transport to a fantasy world I think that can work though most of the times it seems to geared be more for kids. I say this because most movies I remember with that idea are from my childhood like The Pagemaster and A Kid in King Arthur's Court. And the problem I see is that it's basically all a dream. The kid wakes up and becomes a better person for the experience with hints that it was real, but for the most part the only thing effected was him. I haven't seen Labyrinth, but The Forbidden Kingdom held to the concept very well and had good ideas the problem I saw was it was just a bad movie.

Also I think BACK TO THE FUTURE, MEN IN BLACK, and GALAXY QUEST but not so much GHOSTBUSTERS. Because they don't really evolve into heroes, they basically stay the same. It's action adeventure, but heroic journey. Which I guess is an important aspect is the evolution of the character from the start of the movie to the end. Marty McFly didn't have any confidence in his goals until he went to the past and help his father grow a pair. Agent Jay goes from a NYPD officer to world saver despite some errors he made and inexperience with that job. The Galaxy Quest crew goes from washed up actors who mostly loathed their fame to accepting it and seeing why people loved it.

As for movies to recommend, it's tough because you already have some good ones. Special Star Wars and Avatar: Last Air Bender, which actually both follows the same formula. I would definitely say TRON and TRON LEGACY since the handled the concept of fantasy world the best, and hold up the hero's journey quite well. Maybe AN AMERICAN TAIL, the cartoon with an immigrant mouse who got lost from his family. DISTRICT 9 may be a good one. I may recommend more but I'm drawing a blank.
 

Bass

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I'd say Kingdom of Heaven is a great example, the newest Tron as well.

TRON! I totally forgot all about that when I was discussing "movies where they go from contemporary society to exotic fantasy world". I haven't seen TRON: LEGACY.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, however, doesn't seem like a Hero's Journey. Could you explain why you think it's a great example of the hero's journey?

As for transport to a fantasy world I think that can work though most of the times it seems to geared be more for kids. I say this because most movies I remember with that idea are from my childhood like The Pagemaster and A Kid in King Arthur's Court. And the problem I see is that it's basically all a dream. The kid wakes up and becomes a better person for the experience with hints that it was real, but for the most part the only thing effected was him. I haven't seen Labyrinth, but The Forbidden Kingdom held to the concept very well and had good ideas the problem I saw was it was just a bad movie.

The problem with THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM lies in that the plot is really poor and the hero protagonist is terrible. They tried to solve that by having the wonderful duo of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, but they so completely stole the show that when it went back to the kid, you'd kinda forgotten who he was.

THE PAGEMASTER is one I had forgotten all about. I'd not heard of A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT.

Also I think BACK TO THE FUTURE, MEN IN BLACK, and GALAXY QUEST but not so much GHOSTBUSTERS. Because they don't really evolve into heroes, they basically stay the same. It's action adeventure, but heroic journey. Which I guess is an important aspect is the evolution of the character from the start of the movie to the end. Marty McFly didn't have any confidence in his goals until he went to the past and help his father grow a pair. Agent Jay goes from a NYPD officer to world saver despite some errors he made and inexperience with that job. The Galaxy Quest crew goes from washed up actors who mostly loathed their fame to accepting it and seeing why people loved it.

I wouldn't say Jay 'evolves into a hero'. There's no profound character arc in any of the films you mention. Their circumstances arc, their fortunes change, but their characters are only revealed, at best. Jay is Jay is Jay; he's just better paid at the end. Perhaps more competent too.

As for movies to recommend, it's tough because you already have some good ones. Special Star Wars and Avatar: Last Air Bender, which actually both follows the same formula. I would definitely say TRON and TRON LEGACY since the handled the concept of fantasy world the best, and hold up the hero's journey quite well. Maybe AN AMERICAN TAIL, the cartoon with an immigrant mouse who got lost from his family. DISTRICT 9 may be a good one. I may recommend more but I'm drawing a blank.

I saw AN AMERICAN TAIL ten thousand years ago. I've forgotten all about. I've not seen DISTRICT 9 but is it a hero's journey? You can also recommend bad ones!
 

Bass

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I've read his book. Got the MASKS OF GOD in my studio.

Gotta say - THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES is interesting, well written, and insightful as to culture and the monomyth, but it is of almost no practical help for a writer.
 

Bass

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I think it's very useful and interesting for a number of reasons, and it can be quite inspiring, but I personally don't think it's of value for the nuts and bolts of writing.
 

Captain Canuck

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Harry Potter?

the first time someone explained the plot to me i thought it was just a rip off of Star Wars: An orphan boy raised by his aunt and uncle finds out that he has special abilities and that his parents were murdered by a "dark lord". he is trained in his special abilities and is the only one who can stop the dark lord.

I was pretty sure Voldomort was going to end up being Harry's dad.
 

ProjectX2

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Yeah, I think Harry Potter is definitely the most recent, definitive example.

Bass, have you read the Writers Journey? It sounds like it takes Campbell's ideas about heroes and myth but discusses them from a writing perspective. I haven't read it but it's been recommended in a bunch of my film classes.
 
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Random

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I'd not heard of A KID IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT
It was a pretty cheesy movie in the 90s. The kid beats the bad guys with a CD player.

I wouldn't say Jay 'evolves into a hero'. There's no profound character arc in any of the films you mention. Their circumstances arc, their fortunes change, but their characters are only revealed, at best. Jay is Jay is Jay; he's just better paid at the end. Perhaps more competent too.
I never meant to imply that the character arcs were profound, but they are there. I see the hero's journey as someone who rises to the challenge and he and his "community" (using that term loosey) are better off for it. J is in over his head most of MIB, with K basically schooling him in everything and at the end K retires and Jay takes on his role. In the final scene you see J take on the leads with L and showed the knowledge that he's up for it. There is a change there that can reflect the typical "hero's journey" even if he didn't really do anything amazingly heroic.

I saw AN AMERICAN TAIL ten thousand years ago. I've forgotten all about. I've not seen DISTRICT 9 but is it a hero's journey? You can also recommend bad ones!
It may not be the atypical hero's journey, does have a lot of commonality, since the main character is basically running from everyone but in the end he helps more than he hurts. It's a good and interesting film so I don't want to want to get too detailed.
 
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Bass

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Bass, have you read the Writers Journey? It sounds like it takes Campbell's ideas about heroes and myth but discusses them from a writing perspective. I haven't read it but it's been recommended in a bunch of my film classes.

I've not read it, but did a look through it on amazon and... to be honest, it looks like an college student's thesis on Campbell's book. To put it another way; I think it would be better just to re-read Campbell's book. But I've added it to my wishlist and the next time I'm buying books I will give it further consideration because it might have something useful in it. Thanks for the heads up.

Harry Potter?

the first time someone explained the plot to me i thought it was just a rip off of Star Wars: An orphan boy raised by his aunt and uncle finds out that he has special abilities and that his parents were murdered by a "dark lord". he is trained in his special abilities and is the only one who can stop the dark lord.

I was pretty sure Voldomort was going to end up being Harry's dad.

Nuts, I can't believe I forgot HARRY POTTER. Good catch.

oh, what about Space Balls?

and Spider-Man, and in a weird, drawn out, and not very good way, Smallville.

Not seen SPACE BALLS. Not sure about SPIDER-MAN. There's something different about hero's journeys and origin stories. They're similar but there's some key differences I need to explore.

The first arc of the Imortal Iron Fist pretty much follows this to a Tee

It does? I remember reading it and thinking it was very dull. In fact, if I recall correctly, I took it back to my LCS and swapped it for something because I cared so little for it. I'll download it and read it to see if it fits the model. Thanks.
 

Captain Canuck

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Not seen SPACE BALLS.
it's obviously a spoof, but i think it fits pretty well.

Not sure about SPIDER-MAN. There's something different about hero's journeys and origin stories. They're similar but there's some key differences I need to explore.
It's not a direct correlation, but as you said, it is similar. Especially for Spidey. A young man given great power, rejects the advice of the wise sage (Uncle Ben) and it ends in disaster. He dedicates his life to following the advice that cost Uncle Ben his life and living responsibly.
 

ProjectX2

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I've not read it, but did a look through it on amazon and... to be honest, it looks like an college student's thesis on Campbell's book. To put it another way; I think it would be better just to re-read Campbell's book. But I've added it to my wishlist and the next time I'm buying books I will give it further consideration because it might have something useful in it. Thanks for the heads up.

I just ordered it so I'll tell you if it's worth getting when I read it.

What is this project you're doing? Are you writing a script with a hero's journey or are you writing a script about hero's journeys?
 

SSJmole

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the movie! :D .......... :oops:
 

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