9 Movies That Follow the Hero’s Journey

 Are you someone who loves books and movies about heroes? Take a look at a few examples of movies that follow the hero’s journey below. 

Hollywood offers many outstanding examples of screenwriting and filmmaking. One of the most popular themes is heroes. Just about everyone loves a movie about a good hero.

People love someone to cheer for, and people like to have a happy ending. As a result, even a junior filmmaker might incorporate a hero character that the audience can get behind. Regardless of whether it is your first time to the movies or if you are going to the movies for the thousandth time, you might be looking for a movie that follows a hero’s or a heroine’s journey. 

Take a look at a few of the top examples from a popular culture you should add to your list, and make sure you experience a great hero’s journey.

Top movies that follow the hero's journey

1. Star Wars

Without a doubt, one of the greatest movie series that follows the hero’s journey is Star Wars, George Lucas. Even though there is some debate, most people agree that the hero of the series is Luke Skywalker, who made his first appearance in A New Hope. While he is not in every movie, the entire series is about him. 

Star Wars has just about everything. It has Jedi, the Death Star, Darth Vader, and more. Throughout the movies, you see Luke Skywalker and other characters evolve. The Republic and the Rebel Alliance seek to strike down evil, represented by the Empire and Emperor Palpatine. If you have a lot of time on your hands, consider watching all nine movies in order. 

2. Harry Potter

Another movie series you might want to check out is Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. In many ways, this allows you to follow the writer’s journey, as the Harry Potter series is a series of books that was later turned into a series of movies. During the series, you get to see Harry Potter evolve from a young 11-year-old prodigy wizard into a hero who saves the Hogwarts Universe. If you like stories about magic, you will fall in love with Harry Potter. 

3. Iron Man

Movies that follow the hero's journey
The Iron Man movie has science fiction, superpowers, villains, and just about everything else you can imagine

If you are looking for the perfect archetype of the hero, then you may want to check out the Iron Man movies. This is a part of the Avengers (Marvel) universe, and you will love following Tony Stark and the other Avengers as the series unfolds.

One of the most popular series in Hollywood, you get to see Iron Man team up with several other heroes as they attempt to make the world a better place. It has science fiction, superpowers, villains, and just about everything else you can imagine. If you are looking for an introduction to The Avengers universe, you may want to check out Iron Man. 

4. The Lion King

Most people have a special place in their hearts for Disney, and one of the most popular movies is The Lion King. You get to follow Simba as he grows from a lion cub into the leader of the pack. Even though it is devastating when his father, Mufasa, passes away, watching him grow up is still a fantastic experience. Then, he challenges his uncle, Scar, who spends a lot of time in his cave. The Lion King can also be a great introduction into the world of Disney for those who have never seen a Disney film before.

5. The Wizard of Oz

You should also consider going back in time to Classic Hollywood Cinema. The Wizard of Oz is one of the greatest movies of all time, and you get to follow a young heroine, Dorothy, as she seeks to help a bunch of people who each have their personal flaws. If you have ever heard of the yellow brick road, this is where the term originates. You can watch Dorothy fight against evil witches, save her friends, and learn more about herself along the way.

6. The Lord of the Rings 

The Lord of the Rings is a vast Universe with multiple movies and books. It follows Frodo, a hobbit, seeking to save the universe by returning the ring from whence they came. The books are every bit as good as the movies, and they will lead you on a fantastical adventure. The series is filled with monsters, magic, and more twists and turns than you can count. If you want to see the hero’s many stages unfold, consider following Frodo from the Shire to Mordor. 

7. Spider-Man

Spider-Man is another popular series that intersects with the Avengers Universe. There are numerous Spider-Man universes, and each one of them has its own Peter Parker. Spider-Man is a superhero who has the power to shoot amazingly strong webs from his wrists, and he often teams up with other superheroes to fight villains.

Throughout the movies, you will see Spider-Man at his highest, Spider-Man in the depths of despair, and Spider-Man as he works hard to solve problems. Consider following Peter Parker on his journey in this series.

8. The Matrix

The Matrix is a fantastic movie series that allows viewers to follow Neo and Morpheus as they battle in a fantastic digital underworld. It is one of the most popular science fiction films ever made. The movie series has plenty of action scenes, numerous espionage examples, and an amazing adventure as Neo seeks to learn more about himself, where he came from, and what the future holds for him. Even though it is a bit of a dystopian world, it is perfect for those who like visual and augmented reality.

9. The Goonies

The Goonies is about a band of adventurous kids who fight back against a construction company seeking to pave their home to make a country club. As they go through the attic, they uncover an old pirate map and follow it to an underground cavern. Of course, they encounter a lot of challenges along the way. The individual members of The Goonies are the heroes, but they also grow up as the movie unfolds. If you are looking for an amazing adventure, consider giving this film a watch. 

Final Word on Movies That Follow the Hero’s Journey

These are just a few of the many examples of movies that follow the hero’s journey along the way. Even though not all of them perfectly mirror Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, all of the heroes mentioned undergo changes and evolve as the movies unfold.

Regardless of whether you are watching a fantasy movie, a science fiction film, or a more realistic movie with a hero, see if you can identify individual stages along the hero’s journey. You might be able to appreciate each movie just a bit more and see the power of myth.

FAQs About Movies That Follow the Hero’s Journey

Is there a classic story that heroes are frequently based on?

Every movie is slightly different, but many mirror The Odyssey by Homer. This tale is regarded as one of the classics regarding heroes. The story follows Odysseus as he encounters trials and tribulations along the way. Many of the popular hero movies of today have some of the same elements as The Odyssey. 

What are the individual stages of the hero’s journey?

The individual stages of the hero’s journey in the template include the Ordinary World, The Call to Adventure, the refusal of the call, the meeting with the mentor, the crossing the first threshold, tests and allies along the road of trials, the innermost cave, and the supreme ordeal.

There are of course many different characters who play a role in the hero’s journey. Check out our article on the different character archetypes.

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