Joseph Campbell published The Hero with a Thousand Faces in 1949 that discussed the journey of the hero in most heroic stories. I have applied Campbell’s hero cycle to The Matrix, starring Keenu Reeves and created by Andy and Larry Wachowski.
The Call to Adventure in The Matrix
This is the first step in Campbell’s hero cycle. This initial step is followed by helpers.
* The Call to Adventure – In The Matrix, Neo is called to the adventure when Trinity sends him a message over his computer telling him to follow the white rabbit. Trinity tells Neo, “The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.”
* Helper – His helpers are Trinity, who respects as a computer hacker and calls him to action, and Morpheus, who tries to guide him away from the agents who try to capture him.
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Neo, of course, selects the pill that shows him that the matrix is just a construct. Morpheus states, “I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.”
* Tests: Neo needs to pass tests. He fights Morpheus in order to learn the matrix and the big test is to jump from one building to the next as Trinity did early in the film.
* Helpers: Morpheus teaches Neo the matrix as does Trinity and the others on the ship. He also visits the Oracle, who tells him what he needs to know.
The Supreme Ordeal
During the supreme ordeal, the hero is faced with a situation or a challenge in which, if the hero wins, will receive a gift or boon. Additionally, between the supreme ordeal and boon, the hero has a moment of doubt.
* Supreme Ordeal: In The Matrix, Cypher betrays the member of the Nebuchadnezzar and turns them in to the agents of The Matrix. Some are killed and Morpheus is captured. It is up to Neo to rescue him.
* Flight: As Neo’s companions die, Trinity and Neo seek escape from Cypher and the agents. He does not know if he can help Morpheus.
* Return: Once back on the ship, he realizes that he can save Morpheus and Trinity goes with him to help.
* Hero: When Neo saves Morpheus and defeats the agents, he becomes the hero.
* Boon: Neo now has he gift of controlling the Matrix and being able to manipulate it in his favor. Neo last lines: “I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid... you're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”