7 Hero's Journey Movies
Writer Joseph Campbell popularized the idea of the Hero's Journey - the arc of events that define virtually every myth in human history. Movies could be called a kind of modern mythology, so it makes sense that lots of movies follow the Hero's Journey. Here are seven of the best examples of the Hero's Journey in film.
The best example of Campbell's ideas in movies is undoubtedly the "Star Wars" movies. This is because "Star Wars" creator George Lucas famously used Campbell's ideas to write his story about a young farmer's boy named Luke Skywalker who discovers he's the Jedi who can save the galaxy from the evil Empire etc. etc. etc.
Speaking of chosen ones, Neo (anagram for "One," natch) is another classic example of the Hero's Journey. He swallows a pill and finds out he can manipulate reality and that he has to use his powers to save humanity from our mechanical overlords. A lot more violent than "Star Wars," but it's the same general idea.
"Clash of the Titans"
The final feature film to have stop-motion animation from special effects legend Ray Harryhausen is a great Hero's Journey movie because it's actually based on ancient Greek mythology. More specifically, it tells the story of Perseus, who defeats various monsters like the Kraken and Medusa thanks to the magical weaponry given to him by the gods, like an invisibility helmet.
Another self-conscious evocation of the Hero's Journey can be found in the "Harry Potter" films. Harry goes from know-nothing little kid to powerful wizard, hitting all the basic Hero's Journey beats along the way - descent into the underworld, mastery of both worlds, the whole shebang. Also, a cool British accent.
No study of the Hero's Journey in film would be complete without at least one superhero movie, and "Spider-Man" is probably the best example of the form. Peter Parker gets the "call to adventure" after a radioactive spider bite, and then proceeds to transform into the hero we all know and love.
"The Lord of the Rings"
How about a Hero's Journey movie in which the hero goes on a literal journey? In "The Lord of the Rings," our hero (Frodo) has to go on a journey all around Middle Earth so he can destroy the evil One Ring in the fires of Mordor. You saw the movie right? It's the one with all the swords. You must have at least seen trailers, man, come on.
"The Adventures of Robin Hood"
Not all Hero's Journeys have to be supernatural or science-fictional. Robin Hood is another classic hero myth brought to the screen by Errol Flynn in one of his finest roles. His call to adventure comes in the form of blatant political corruption, so he proceeds to use his special skills (shooting arrows, swordfighting, being really charming) to save the day.