“You know you can’t get to the end until you’ve been changed by the journey. This stuff, it needs to happen. To get us all in the right mindset to finish the quest.”
He Who Remains (or Kang the Conqueror) from the Loki series knows what’s happening. He controls time and thus can manipulate things in his favor. For example, he can dodge the sword blows that are meant to kill him.
“Why are we here?” he is asked. When he already knows everything anyway. His answer is the quote from above.
He can manipulate time. The result of a development that is bound to time, however, is not.
The protagonists have to go through a certain development to get to the point that changes them. So that it can be called the end of the hero’s journey.
It is exciting in the series because the necessary transformation of the hero’s journey is mentioned and it happens at the same time. In the last episode, in this very scene: The transformation of the protagonist takes place, the end of the hero’s journey is within reach.
A Storytelling Principle
The hero’s journey is considered a successful storytelling principle.
It follows the classic basic pattern of three acts:
- The initial situation or the departure of the main character.
- The adventure on the way to the goal, in which difficulties, conflicts or trials arise and it often seems hopeless.
- Finally, the achievement of the goal (and return) of the protagonist, now changed by the journey.
12 Steps Of The Hero’s Journey
Besides the rough division into three parts, Joseph Campbell describes 12 sequences. Campbell read through hundreds of myth stories from around the world and discovered the monomyth: The Hero’s Journey.
In his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” he describes the hero in the different stories as always new variants of the same hero.
- The hero’s journey begins in the known world of the protagonist.
- The hero is called, he receives a message, an invitation or a challenge, which he has to follow.
- The adventure requires help from a mentor, usually an older or wiser character.
- The hero dives into the unknown, into a new, unfamiliar world.
- Trials present challenges to the hero.
- The greatest danger lurks, the worst fears emerge.
- The darkest hour, the lowest point. The hero faces death or even dies.
- To be reborn. With new skills or a reward.
- Those new skills are used to defeat the villain or break out of the adventure.
- The hero returns.
- His experiences have made him grow and transformed.
- The transformation is complete, the new (old) life is an upgrade.
A Common Pattern
Many narratives, movie blockbusters, novels or commercials can be broken down to the format of the hero’s journey.
Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings or The Lion King use the pattern.
What do these stories, which are so different, have in common?
People are better at remembering stories than facts. When you engage with stories, you live through them. And the hero’s journey is usually an emotional ride.
We can identify with the hero. He symbolizes our own lives and our own challenges and adventures.
It doesn’t always have to be the one larger-than-life villain we have to defeat.
It can be a task like finishing school, getting your driver’s license, starting a job, or moving into your first apartment in a foreign city for college.
You leave your familiar surroundings and embark on an adventure that challenges you; that knocks you down and that makes you despair. But through which you return strengthened and grown.
Our Own Heroic Journey
Our own lives are a succession of different heroic journeys; of problems and challenges that we overcome.
We ourselves are the 1000 different faces of the one hero. We are the ever-changing variations. Like the variants of the same person from another universe in the Loki series.
We are going on a hero’s journey ourselves. Over and over again; a constant cycle of challenges and transformation.
Just like the course of time, which He Who Remains tries to tame in an endless cycle.