Hero’s Journey Discussion Questions


When I first read this assignment I was concerned. As the mother to pre-school age children I have not watched a “real’ adult movie in I don’t know how long.  After recovering from my momentary panic, I realized that many of the Disney and children’s movies I have recently watched use the hero’s journey pattern. The Lion King, Mulan, Aladdin, and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all use the hero’s journey as a basic outline.

One of the Disney films that I believe did an excellent job following the hero’s journey pattern The Lion King. This movie contained many of the elements Joseph Campbell defined in his definition of a Hero’s Journey. Some of the elements may step outside the traditional pattern but in the end they all intertwine to make a cohesive hero’s journey that follows the pattern. I believe that the twists in the patterns keep people interested and thinking. One element that seems to be outside the tradition norm is the appearance of the mentor. Rafiki seems to fit this mold but I also see Timon and Pumba as mentors in Simba’s journey. They all guided him in his growth and learning about himself.

tp and s rafiki

I almost thought the call to adventure was after Simba had grown up and was asked by Nala to return to help the pride. But, after some thought I believe that he was actually called upon to act like a future king by his father and he ignored this call to remain a carefree cub. His believe that he caused his father’s death and subsequent self-exile is typical of the belly of the whale where the hero is “swallowed into the unknown’. Confronting his father’s spirit and coming to terms with life and his place in it sets him on the path home with the ultimate boon-the fulfillment of his destiny, which is to be the  king of the pride.


Some current cinema meets our needs as based upon the four functions of mythology where others fall short. The first of the four functions is the mystical. There are movies that provide us the need to experience the mystery of our existence. The awe at what is. Another function is the need to know where about the universe and what our place is in it. This need is meet by some movies that explore creation and also test the limits of what is known of science and where this knowledge is going. Exploring these ideas can make up think about what part we play in our world and what the ramifications of our actions can be.

The third function of mythology is that of social function. Movies can promote what we see as right and wrong. The basic good versus evil movies help ingrain what behavior is acceptable in a society. Movies also help show us how we should behave and what we should be doing at various stages of life. Movies that are true to what original stories and myths were can provide us information that makes us think and helps us determine who we are, why we are, and what the appropriate behaviors are.. This all being said there are many movies out there that are simply entertainment and provide no basis for us to think and learn from. I think that there are so many movies and entertainment sources out there we have become numb to what the purpose of stories was originally for.

4 thoughts on “Hero’s Journey Discussion Questions

  1. Victoria Adams

    Now that I think about it, don’t most movie genres follow this outline? (Except perhaps comedy or horror/suspense?) Your main character is usually a hero in some shape or form, is given the opportunity to step up, faces the challenges, etc. Usually by the end of the movie the main character has transformed into a man/woman and has learned a valuable lesson.

  2. Haley

    I love the fact that you picked The Lion King to define the Hero’s Journey in. It is a great example. Disney movies are definitely the best in following the Journey in nearly all of their movies. I also really like the way that you go about explaining the Functions of Mythology. I agree with the fact that so many movies out there have numbed us. I don’t think about the whole purpose of the story usually. I just enjoy the movie like most other people just do these days.

  3. nelsoncrockett

    I agree that many forms of stories that we tell are simply a way to inform people about what is right and what is wrong. Also I do agree that many of todays movie are more heavily designed for a brief entertainment rather than and in depth look at life but, I think that depends heavily upon the viewer. Its easy to just watch something one time and not see anything beyond whats presented at face value. An example of this using the Lion King is how the wondering if all of the other animals in the story were actually ok with having a being who ate them as their king. I do agree though that most of the stories that stick close to a more classical style best allow people to gain greater insight into them.

  4. sharissewatkins

    It’s funny you said that you went in to mommy mode, do you find yourself even watching cartoons and singing theme songs of your child’s favorite character…even when they aren’t around? I sometimes stay up late to watch my own shows but to be totally honest, I’d watch Doc Mcstuffins and Lion King over a scary movie ANY day. I think we all pretty much went the Disney movie route, I mean everyone knows Disney and it’s so enjoyable. Like you said, they are coming out with movies these days where they take you out of your reality and place you in one where…it’s not even one you would want to go to, ha-ha. Serial killers? What? Ghosts? Huh? Sorry for my language, but screw that! Stick me in a jungle with a crazy baboon and two best friends that happen to be a warthog and a meerkat, I’ll be good to go!

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