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.)
Does a top-secret spy have an ordinary world? The closest we see Bond getting to "ordinary" is after he is injured and starts hanging out on a tropical island. So, yeah, this is Bond's normal—almost killed, living in a secret paradise, doing shots with a scorpion perched on his hand. Sounds like a typical Tuesday to us.
Call to Adventure
Bond's call to adventure happens on a daily basis, but in Skyfall, his call is a big one—the explosion of MI6 headquarters in London. The bombing shakes Bond enough that he decides to stop playing dead and start being real.
Refusal of the Call
The closest Bond comes to refusing the call is a brief maybe-we're-too-old-for-this moment shared with M in her home. But after M tells Bond to "speak for yourself," he realizes he has no excuse not to stand up and fight.
Meeting the Mentor
Bond has already met M, of course, but she's the closest thing to a mentor he gets in this story, although, in a way, everyone he meets—Q, Eve, even Silva—serves as a mini-mentor of sorts for 007. He's learning to work with a team instead of being a lone wolf, and each person gives him examples on what to do and what not to do.
Crossing the Threshold
After M lies about Bond's physical and mental evaluations, Bond is cleared for service and is back in action. For Bond, the threshold always leads to globetrotting adventure. First stop: Shanghai.
Tests, Allies, Enemies
As Bond hops from Shanghai to Macau to Silva's deserted island compound, he meets a variety of people. Many of them want to kill him. Allies are few and far between for 007, and things don't normally work out for those who ally themselves with him. RIP Severine.
Approach to the Inmost Cave
Silva's speech draws Bond into the "inmost cave," forcing Bond to consider the question, am I actually like this guy? They have a lot of similarities, but Bond has to focus on the key differences.
Anything related to Silva is an ordeal. He has dozens of armed men surrounding him, he's a computer genius, and he's able to crash an entire subway train into James Bond. Fighting this guy is not easy.
Reward (Seizing the Sword)
It's a reward to find out what Silva wants—he wants M dead—and to capture M. Once they have Silva restrained, the whole thing feels easy. Too easy…
The Road Back
Silva breaks out, of course, and Bond and M go into hiding. They take a road back to the past—to Bond's childhood home, to be precise, to hide out and fight Silva's high-tech assault with some decidedly low-tech tricks.
Bond says his specialty is resurrection, and like a phoenix, he burns his childhood home to the ground and rises from the ashes as a brand-new agent. Pity M doesn't make it, though.
Return With the Elixir
Bond returns to London. Although M is dead, she tells him with her last words that she is proud of him, so at least he has that. It gives him the strength he needs to keep moving forward.