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What Marvel Movies Follow the Hero’s Journey?

If you’re a fan of superhero movies, you may have noticed that many of them follow a similar story structure. This structure is known as the Hero’s Journey, which was first identified by Joseph Campbell in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. In this article, we’ll take a look at how some of the Marvel movies follow the Hero’s Journey.

What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that can be found in many myths and stories from around the world. It consists of several stages that the hero must go through in order to complete their quest. These stages include:

  • The Call to Adventure
  • The Refusal of the Call
  • The Meeting with the Mentor
  • Crossing the First Threshold
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave
  • The Ordeal
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword)
  • The Road Back
  • Resurrection
  • Return with the Elixir

Marvel Movies and The Hero’s Journey

Many Marvel movies follow this narrative structure, with some variations depending on the character and their individual story arc. Here are a few examples:

Iron Man (2008)

The Call to Adventure: Tony Stark, a billionaire weapons manufacturer, is captured by terrorists and forced to build them a weapon.

The Meeting with the Mentor: Tony meets Yinsen, who helps him build an Iron Man suit and inspires him to use it for good.

Crossing the First Threshold: Tony escapes from his captors and returns to the US, where he begins working on a more advanced Iron Man suit.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Tony must fight against Obadiah Stane, who has taken control of his company and wants to use the Iron Man technology for his own purposes.

The Ordeal: Tony must face off against Stane in a battle that takes place in the streets of Los Angeles.

Reward (Seizing the Sword): Tony defeats Stane and decides to use his technology to become Iron Man full-time.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The Call to Adventure: Steve Rogers is a scrawny young man who wants to enlist in the army during World War II but is repeatedly turned down due to his physical weakness.

The Meeting with the Mentor: Dr. Abraham Erskine sees potential in Steve and selects him for an experimental program that will turn him into a super-soldier.

Crossing the First Threshold: Steve undergoes the treatment and emerges as Captain America, with enhanced strength and agility.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Captain America must work with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark to defeat Johann Schmidt, also known as the Red Skull, who has plans for world domination.

The Ordeal: Captain America must infiltrate Red Skull’s base and stop him from using a weapon of mass destruction.

Reward (Seizing the Sword): Captain America destroys Red Skull’s weapon and saves thousands of lives.

Thor (2011)

The Call to Adventure: Thor is banished from Asgard by his father Odin after disobeying his orders.

The Meeting with the Mentor: Thor meets Jane Foster, a scientist who helps him understand more about Earth and human behavior.

Crossing the First Threshold: Thor must retrieve his hammer, Mjolnir, from a government facility where it has been taken for study.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Thor must fight against his brother Loki, who has taken control of Asgard in Odin’s absence.

The Ordeal: Thor must confront Loki and destroy the Bifrost bridge to prevent him from launching an invasion of Earth.

Reward (Seizing the Sword): Thor defeats Loki and earns his father’s respect, allowing him to return to Asgard.


The Hero’s Journey is a powerful narrative structure that has been used in storytelling for centuries. Many Marvel movies have successfully incorporated this structure into their plots, creating engaging and memorable stories that resonate with audiences. By understanding this structure, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the storytelling techniques used by these films and the characters they portray.