Exploring the Hero’s Journey in Popular Films

Film Hero's Journey Analysis

In this lesson, we’ll explore how popular movies follow the pattern of the hero’s journey, a concept developed by Joseph Campbell. This pattern is a common thread in storytelling, found in films like “The Matrix,” “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “Harry Potter.” These movies showcase a hero’s adventure and transformation in a way that reflects Campbell’s ideas. Our focus will be on “The Matrix,” where we’ll see how the main character, Neo, follows this journey. Alongside this exploration, there will be a worksheet for you to complete while watching the movie. This worksheet will guide you to identify the various stages of the hero’s journey and the archetypal characters within the film, enhancing your understanding of how these elements are woven into modern cinema.

Learning Goals

  • I will be able to identify and explain the stages of the hero’s journey
  • I will be able to recognize and analyze archetypal characters in films, including the hero, mentor, threshold guardian, and shadow
  • I will develop critical thinking skills by seeing how This Movie follows and deviates from the traditional hero’s journey and archetype patterns.


  • A Movie that clearly goes through the Hero’s Journey; ie, The Matrix, Star Wars, The Lion King, Lord of the Rings


  1. Review the Stages of the Hero’s Journey and archetypes (Click here to see the lesson).
  2. Introduce your chosen movie. My favorite is The Matrix
  3. Watch the movie while filling out the Hero’s Journey in a Movie handout.


Collect and review student answers from the handout.

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