Contemporary Hero’s Quest Essay Sample

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*The portrayal of a hero archetype has been a part of society and can be traced back to ancient times and the earliest of myths. The hero is the integral archetype in the collective unconscious of whichever culture the story is based. Heroes become a collective and personal encounter that each individual in the audience identifies with, they simultaneously embody the collective hopes and ideals of the culture that creates him. Throughout this presentation we will take a deeper look at the contemporary hero Superman’s quest, and how it ties in with mythology, as well as our own lives.

Superman ‘The Man of Steel’
• Son of noble parents from alien planet
• Sole survivor of Krypton
• Alien genes give him superpowers on Earth
• Raised by surrogate parents
• Purpose in life
• Secret identity in Clark Kent
• Journey to North Pole
• Semi-divine superhero with power to rid the planet of evilVillains

General Zod and Lex Luther
General Zod
• Ex military commander from Krypton turned war criminal
• Dark reflection of Superman
• Imprisoned in ‘Phantom Zone by Jor-El (superman’s father)
• Terrorizes Superman in quest for vengeance

• Lex Luther

• Powerful businessman hell bent on world domination
• Exceptional genius intellect
• Oldest and most driven foe
• Superman’s arch enemy

• Krytpon
• Jor-El/Lara
• Phantom Zone
• Kryptonite
• Jonathon/Martha Kent
• Clark Kent
• Lois Lane
• Jimmy Olsen
• Perry White

Steps Taken by Hero
• Separation

• Call to adventure
• Crossing the first threshold
• Descent

• Initiation

• Road of trials
• Meeting with the goddess
• Atonement with father

• Transformation

• Apotheosis
• The ultimate boon

• Return

• Crossing of the return threshold

Mythological Origins
• Moses
• Biblical significance
• Ancient Greek warriors
• Achilles
• Hercules

Mythological Symbolism
• Immigrant persona
• God like figure
• Split personality
• Above the ‘ordinary man’
• Embodies a civil religion that transcends all other religions • Character that is larger than life
• Representation of ‘good’
• Fought and triumphed over evil forces
• The cape and ‘S’ emblem

• Living a normal life
• Relationship with Lois Lane
• Purpose
• Responsibility

The hero archetype is a part of each and everyone of us regardless of culture, which is a large part of the reason why we awe at the story of Superman, and at other heroes from ancient times. We fall in love with the quest that comprises their story, and even the other characters that surround them. The creation of these heroes follows a path known as the heroes quest, in which certain steps are taken which lead them down a path of greatness, while at the same time etching their importance in our subconscious. Regardless of the fact that these characters are heroes, it is important to realize they are a part of us and represent not only our capabilities but also our own personal struggles.


Daniels, L. (1998). Superman: The Complete History (1st
ed.). Titan Books
Indick, W. (2004, November). Classical Heroes in Modern
Movies: Mythological Patterns of the Superhero . Journal of
Media Psychology, 9(3).
Leonard, S., & McClure, M. (2004). Myth and Knowing. An
Introduction to World Mythology . New York City, NY:

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