Context: We will now turn our attention to America’s highly influential entertainment complex: Hollywood, and its presentation of heroes in movies and on TV. Some of the most successful movies in recent history have included heroes and their journeys (Star Wars The Force Awakens, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Mad Max, Hidden Figures, Black Panther, etc.). I think that many of us instinctively know what a hero entails, but it’s not always easily definable. One question to consider is: what sorts of actions warrant the term “heroism”?

Writing Task: For this assignment, you will choose one hero or multiple heroes (as long as they are in the same movie or TV show) to analyze in a four-five, page essay. Additionally, even though many movies and TV shows are based on books or comics, you will be analyzing the movie or TV show in its visual presentation. Ultimately, the essay should achieve two, main purposes:

1.) Using the Hero’s Journey as a lens, show how your hero fulfills, mostly fulfills, or does not fulfill, the various stages of the Hero’s Journey, including a discussion of the specific stages and mythological archetypes.

2.) Analyze the characteristics and actions that make these characters heroes.

To help you better understand these concepts, you should use “The Stages of the Hero’s Journey” and “The Hero’s Journey is Still the Only Hope for Good Stories” as well as additional materials found on Canvas (you will be required to incorporate at least two of the sources from this unit, along with your primary source (movie or TV show). Finally, we will be watching a film and discussing it as an example of how to formulate this type of essay.

Choosing a topic/hero:
–Your first instinct might be to write about an obvious hero such as James Bond or Indiana Jones or a super hero such as Spiderman or Batman, but keep in mind that there are different types of heroes (fictional or non-fictional), including athletes (Jackie Robinson and the Karate Kid) politicians (JFK, Bill Clinton) civil rights proponents (Harvey Milk, Malcolm X), etc. You may also consider animated heroes such as The Incredibles or Moana.
–There are a number of links on Canvas that will help you choose a hero/topic.
–Although this essay cannot entirely focus on the villain or anti-hero, you should show how the hero deals with adversity, whether it’s an evil dictator, monster, or a devious corporation, etc.
Movies that are off limits: documentaries, movies we watch in class, Star Wars A New Hope, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, Hercules, and Mulan.

Some questions to help you during the brainstorming and drafting stages:

-What are the main qualities/characteristics of a hero?
-Who is your biggest hero and why?
-Why is our culture so obsessed with superheroes?
-How does the media create or construct heroes?
-What are “unsung” heroes? Why is there a lack of female and diverse heroes in movies and TV shows? -How has the definition of heroes changed over time?

Additional Steps to a Successful Analysis:

  • Choose a subject that interests you (it may be your favorite show, or it could be a hero from a movie that you’ve only seen once but would like to see again). You will have to view the movie or TV show at least two or three times, so make sure you have access to it! If you’re stuck and can’t decide on a subject, remember you will find some helpful links on Canvas.
  • Your paper must be driven by a thesis statement that offers a specific judgment about, or interpretation of the character as a hero and how the hero follows the Hero’s Journey.
  • Include a brief summary of the movie/TV show, preferably in the introductory portion of your paper. Assume your readers have minimal or no knowledge of the subject you’re analyzing. You should also include general information about your movie such as the year it was released, actors’ names, director, etc.
  • Avoid too much summary. Summarize when describing a scene you intend on analyzing. Keep in mind, an analysis is not a summary, but a deeper look into a subject. When analyzing, you should break down a subject into its smaller parts and interpret them.
  • Avoid using personal experience (except for maybe including an anecdote in your introduction).
  • Employ specific references from the movie to support your thesis: quotations of dialogue, descriptions of scenes and/or characters (particularly their actions). You are also required to bring in at least two additional sources from this unit (so, essentially a minimum of three sources).
  • Always italicize titles of movies and TV shows
  • Choose an original title for your essay
  • Include a Works Cited page for your sources. Requirements: The essay should:
    • Address the assignment thoughtfully, analytically, and creatively
    • Include an engaging introduction and satisfying conclusion
    • Provide an in-depth analysis of a hero of your choosing (from a movie or TV show), revealing why this character is a hero and how he or she follows the heroic journey
    • Include a clear and concise thesis statement, laying out the foundation for your essay
    • Maintain audience awareness
    • Be organized in a logically progressive manner
    • Be nearly free of punctuation, mechanical and spelling errors
    • Be four-five pages in length, typed, double-spaced, formatted in MLA style, and include a Works Cited page
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