Study Guide

Batman Hero's Journey

Hero's Journey

Ever notice that every blockbuster movie has the same fundamental pieces? A hero, a journey, some conflicts to muck it all up, a reward, and the hero returning home and everybody applauding his or her swag? Yeah, scholar Joseph Campbell noticed first—in 1949. He wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he outlined the 17 stages of a mythological hero's journey.

About half a century later, Christopher Vogler condensed those stages down to 12 in an attempt to show Hollywood how every story ever written should—and, uh, does—follow Campbell's pattern. We're working with those 12 stages, so take a look. (P.S. Want more? We have an entire Online Course devoted to the hero's journey.)

Ordinary World

We're going to do something a little different here. We're going to make Vicki Vale our hero for the Hero's Journey, because her plot more closely resembles this 12-stage pattern. Batman's, on the other hand, only shows us step 2 (the death of his parents), and 8, 9, 10, and 11 (the fight against Joker, the reveal of his identity to Vicki, and his return to being Batman).

But Vicki follows the 12 stages pretty close in her high heels. Her ordinary world is one of fashion photography, until she changes careers to war journalism. From there, the only way up is to uncover the identity of the most mysterious man in the world: Batman.

Call To Adventure

Vicki's call to adventure occurs off-screen. At some point before the film begins, Vicki is inspired to travel to Gotham City and uncover Batman's true identity.

Refusal Of The Call

Vicki never gives up, but she is faced with doubt and discouragement from men, like Allie Knox, Bruce Wayne, and Joker. They want her to give up and go home, but each man has a different motive for wanting her to keep quiet.

Meeting The Mentor

At this stage in her journey, Vicki's mentor is Allie Knox. (It's the only time in this man's career he will ever be a mentor to anyone.)

Crossing The Threshold

When Allie believes that he and Vicki can sniff out info about Batman at a charity shindig at Wayne Manor, they literally cross the threshold and go inside. There, they find the mansion of an eccentric billionaire, who just might lead them to Batman.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Vicki forms an alliance with Allie Knox to investigate Bruce after he starts displaying suspicious behavior. She has to decide if Bruce is an ally, an enemy, or Batman. During her investigation, she makes a definite enemy in Joker. When Batman saves her from Joker, she knows Batman is a good guy.

Now if only she could figure out who he is. That lower jaw looks familiar…

Approach To The Inmost Cave

After being rescued by Batman, Vicki is taken inside a literal cave—the Bat Cave. But she doesn't yet know who the man in the mask is.

Ordeal

Vicki confronts Bruce about his shady behavior. She says she really likes him, and wants to know why he's treating her the way he does. This stage is more of an ordeal for Bruce than it is for Vicki, because he is grappling with a desire to tell her that he is really the Oscar Meyer Wiener. Er, Batman. He's really Batman.

Reward (Seizing The Sword)

Admitted into the Bat Cave by Alfred, Vicki confirms that Bruce Wayne is, indeed, Batman.

The Road Back

Before she can do anything with the knowledge of Batman's true identity, Vicki is kidnapped by Joker and almost killed atop Gotham Cathedral.

Resurrection

Batman rescues her. Both she and Bruce will live to fight crime—in their own ways—another day.

Return With The Elixir

Vicki decides to keep the knowledge of Batman's identity to herself. By doing that, she gives up her dream of a Pulitzer Prize, but she allows Bruce to continue fighting crime. She knows that Gotham needs him, and Bruce still needs to be Batman, too.

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