Heroes — 7 x 7 Archetypes
So whether you’re telling a story, imparting a lesson, aspiring for greatness or borrowing traits as everyday heroes, start by looking at our litany of 49 hero archetypes and why heroes do what they do.
Part four of our six part Guild series on “Heroes”
News Wrap Edition #2d of Volume 2
Author: Sean Moffitt with generous help from Rob Salkowitz and Bill Wittur.
So many gaming, literary and comic book sites have diagnosed their legions of heroes, dissecting and sorting through their superpowers or traits. Here’s a site that has profiled 1,000+ genuses, families and species of superheroes, it’s an impressive effort.
Instead of building the same or a better mousetrap, we wanted to add to the “Hero” mosaic by parsing out the universe of heroes not based on what they can do, but why and how they do it, modelled on their attitudes/demeanor & motivations/destiny.
If Simon Sinek was on this venture, he’d applaud our “starting with why”. Why do heroes and protagonists do what they do? What drives them? How much is driven by acceptance of some fate and moral determinism versus self-determination and exercise of free will? And socially or morally, are they white hats, black hats or some type of grey hat in between?
“To view popular culture (and our fictional heroes) as vulgar entertainment without deeper meaning or purpose, is to profoundly misapprehend the value and role of popular culture to civilization and to leadership. Put simply, through the practice of leadership, popular culture helps to both reinforce and question our understanding of who ‘we’ — both as individuals and as members of a civilization — are and what we should strive to become or accomplish as citizens, leaders and followers.” — Kristin M. S. Bezio, Leadership, Popular Culture, and Social Change,
We weren’t the first to look at heroes. We won’t be the last, Yes we looked at Jung’s archetypes. They have an allure among sociologists, storytellers and spiritualists alike. There is a reason Jung’s synthesis has so much sticking power, his ontology spans time and cultural spans, with globally identifiable representatives.
Our challenge is there are 12 Jung varieties and only one is actually labeled “hero”. So powerful as they may be, we were candidly less interested in some of Carl’s spectrum and dove head long into sub sect umbrella of heroes. We also believed like Jung, that although a hero might have a dominant type, they are capable of operating across the spectrum.
We also looked at a symbiosis with Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Maureen Murdock’s contemporized gender argument Heroine’s Journey. Although helpful, Campbell’s and Murdock’s interests were in describing the journey that all heroes and heroines went through. They deal only glancingly into seed motivation and the different types of heroes.
We looked at least 20 ontologies from comic, gaming and literary sites, and whereas they did a really good job of figuring out what and how heroes carried out their business, they frequently missed out on the why. The core motivation driver that makes Wolverine Wolverine, Superman Superman and Hans Solo Hans Solo.
I would argue that motivations and provocations to action are even more integral than abilities or powers, to who they are as the heroes we fan and idolize, and what lessons they can impart to us. Nevertheless most analysis-to-date focuses on whether they can travel at speed of light, shapeshift or control minds.
We extended our perspective beyond comic lore. Superheroes, comic book, big and small screen. Mythic Legends, Greek, Roman and Norse. Hero protagonists, novel, fable or lore. They were all fair game.
“Archetypes are universal organizing themes or patterns that appear regardless of space, time, or person. Appearing in all existential realms and at all levels of systematic recursion, they are organized as themes in the unus mundus (one world).” John O’Brien, Psychological Perspectives
Hero Archetypes — 7x7
We’ve provided our view on the 49 core hero archetypes below. We full well recognize a few things:
- heroes can operate and move across the spectrum, it’s why we love reading about them, whereas they may have eye-of-the-storm superpowers, their emotional DNA is frequently in some sort of transition or turmoil
- even though a hero might be best described by one box — they may have a different demeanour or belief system than their assigned archetype, we have tried to archetype them as a centrepoint realizing there might be heroes that operate across a range:
Visualized above is a 7x7 grid of hero archetypes — on one axis, their demeanor — level of friendliness (or antagonism)/sociability/attitude and on the other axis — their destiny —their confidence in determinism/some pre-determined fate on one pole to their belief self determination/free will on the other. We thought these two dimensions were defining character representations of each archetype with some exceptions.
You’ll frequently hear amongst comic book lovers a DC vs. Marvel comic preference debate (I will freely admit my DC loyalties). As much as both creative houses have very similar characters (Iron Man and Batman are two sides of the same coin), one of the defining differences is a driving motivation. As a sweeping statement, Marvel illustrates people trying to be heroes while DC dramatizes heroes trying to be people.
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell
What Can You Take From the 7x7 Hero Archetypes
This work was conducted as a six part series on heroes with a wide array of analysis. Here’s part one, part two and part three. It’s early days yet, but we think we might have stumbled on something foundational, a Rosetta Stone on how we see our superheroes and how we build our own version of everyday heroism. Here’s five things you could convey from this work:
- self reflection — how to weigh your own selves vs those of superheroes?
- team reflection — whether in business or public life, there are social parallels, what is the dominant heroic type of the groups you associate with?
- practical interpretation — tear off the cape, deconstruct the bat cave, and take away the magic lassos and these are still imminently relatable characters - Superman is a the ultimate immigrant story, Batman is the ultimate self-made man story, and Wonder Woman is about the struggle to walk the line of lean-in warrior strength and endless compassion.
- literary development — storytelling is so powerful, whether you author stories as lessons or ends to themselves, which heroes do you place at the heart of your tales and who is ancillary? and why?
- heroism as a sociology study — our heroes are reflections of society and cultures, as much as they may be the creation of individual writers and artists, they really are a mirror of society, both supporting the prevailing cultures or recognition of a growing counter culture
Superheroes offer an important reflection not only on our current society but also on our own cultural history... it’s no coincidence that the rise of the modern-day superhero occurred in 1930s America, in the depths of the Great Depression and on the eve of the second World War. Our same heroes have proven to be remarkably pliant and adaptable over the years, molding to fit the country’s political and social climate. It’s quite telling, for example, that it took until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s for Marvel to create its first African-American superhero, the Black Panther, and that one of Ms. Magazine’s first covers was an image of Wonder Woman in 1972, heralding the second-wave feminist movement. Suzanne Walker
The 7x7 Archetype Profiles — A Full Exploration
Heroes remind us not only of what we could be, but perhaps of what most of us have been, before whatever forces of disappointment led us to settle for less. Susan Neiman
For each one of our archetypes we have provided a description, categorization, a set of representative heroes and relevant quote:
A. THE COMRADELIES
The Charismatic Charmer — the supernatural or uncanny ability of some heroes to influence, inspire or persuade others; a mysterious, elusive quality that draw people to them; standing in contrast to legal or traditional authority; these heroes have some exemplar or near-divine elements of personality not accessible by ordinary humans; this power is legitimized by followers, inspiring loyalty, reverence and obedience; charismatics usually exhibit an infectious energy, sharp wit & insight and an inner clarity unhindered by doubt or guilt, but can lead to narcissism that feeds on itself and the volatile cult of personality e.g. Kurt Wagner/NightCrawler, Starfox (Eternals), Harley Quinn, Dionysius (Greek mythology), James Bond
“Love Your Perfume. What Is That, The Scent Of Death?” Harley Quinn
The Team Glue — they build team camaraderie, self-awareness, collaboration and are a selfless support of the team; graced with strong social, collaborative and empathetic qualities, but can often take on too much emotional baggage of the group e.g. Barbara Gordon/Oracle, Martian Manhunter, Hestia (Greek Mythology), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter).
“The future is worth it. All the pain. All the tears. The future is worth the fight.” Martian Manhunter
The Gentle Giants — pacificists by nature, contrasting with their appearance, may use size and strength hesitantly in order to to help others; aware of their own strength and size, exhibit remarkable self-control and patience but can be taken advantage of e.g. Luke Cage, Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy) , Optimus Prime (Transformers), Peacemaker .
(Groot makes a barrier from himself around the Guardians) Rocket: “No, Groot! You can’t. You’ll die. Why are you doing this? Why?” Groot: “We are Groot.” Guardians of the Galaxy
The Sidekicks — work under the tutelage or in partnership to a more senior, experienced hero who function as their mentors, frequently function as best friends, confidants and act a catalyst and conscience to the more senior hero, always faithful and reliable to their overseer, but may lack an appropriate critical or assertiveness streak e.g. Robin, Kato, Falcon, Nike (Greek mythology), Dr. Watson
“Some battles are best fought with a sidekick.” Krista Ritchie
The Believers — heroes guided by strong spiritual, ethical or supernatural beliefs and seeking more divine truth, guided by powerful heavenly forces and intellect, can be dismissed or misunderstood by non-believers e.g. Moon Knight, Nightcrawler, Thor, Garth/Tempest
“Thanos is just the latest in a long line of bastards, and he will be the latest to feel my vengeance. Fate wills it so.” Thor
The Wannabes — dream of elevating from their human-ness to rise to hero status; frequently having no special abilities or super powers (or perhaps only early stage precocious talents), but show a level of extreme altruism; commendable for their bravery and instinct to rise to action, but frequently have low self-control and over-estimation of their limited abilities e.g. Kickass, Blankman, Katsushiro (Seven Samurai)
“All men have limits. They learn what they are and they learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine.” Chuck Dixon
“The world is full of evil and lies and pain and death, and you can’t hide from it; you can only face it. The question is, when you do — How do you respond? Who do you become?” Phil Coulson, former director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Dreamers — involved in fanciful notions of the world rather than practicality, based on wide-eyed idealism; believes in a utopian good; eternally optimistic and exudes faith in others; may follow heart over head and have illogical extremes or fanciful notions of reality, respected for their adherence to ideals but can be found to be gullible e.g. Green Lantern, The Tick, The Utopian, Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)
“No, it’s like, no matter how bad things get, there’s something good out there just over the horizon.” Hal Jordan, Green Lantern
B. THE FRIENDLIES
The Disruptive Jesters — people not taking themselves too seriously, causing havoc; loved for their sly irreverence, originality and humor but can offend easily and let comedy take precedence over effectiveness and efficiency e.g. Deadpool, Loki, Plastic Man
“I want to die a natural death at the age of 102 — like the city of Detroit.” Deadpool
The Anthropomorphics — animals, inanimate objects or non-human characters displaying human behaviors, characteristics, or act as if they were human e.g. Asian the Lion (Chronicles of Narnia), Boxer (Animal Farm), The Sandman (comics), Shrek (movie)
“After a while you learn to ignore the names people call you and just trust who you are.” Shrek
The Empaths — feels the pain of others and is compelled to help; empaths have the ability to easily see another person’s perspective which can make them extremely caring, compassionate, and understanding people: can be overwhelmed by the feelinsg they sense e.g. Mantis (Guardians of Galaxy), Raven, Mirage (X-Men), Deanna Troi, Simon Garth/Zombie
“Telepaths know thoughts. Empaths feel feelings. Emotions.” Mantis, Guardians of the Galaxy
The Catalysts — they start the adventure; inciting the conditions or incidents that sets the successive conflict into motion; spotting the early signals and bringing forces of good together to state the mission, specifics and warnings (sometimes also the leader but not always); they can herald the heroic adventure by a clear cause, interpretable ambiguity or serendipitous set of events; usually a person of stability, their values solidified and act in facilitating the courage and growth of others e .g. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Albus Dumbldore (Harry Potter), M (James Bond), Hermes, Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible), Glinda the Good Witch (Wizard of Oz)
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Albus Dumbledore
The Leaders — powerbrokers among heroes, they command respect and mutual trust from the people around them (usually, not universally), acts in everyone’s interest, inspire others to believe they can succeed and are able to make the hard decisions for the group e.g. Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic (Fantastic Four), Jason and the Argonauts (Greek mythology), Ned Stark (Game of Thrones), Captain Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek), Professor McGonical (Harry Potter)
“The Fantastic Four has never given up hope before … We’re not stopping now. If there’s a way out of this, so help me — — I’ll find it.” Reed Richard, Fantastic Four
The Noblesse Oblige — believe their responsibility as powerful people to protect the vulnerable; hold themselves to a higher standard and contribute more to society than those less powerful or less fortunate; exhibit strength, courage and faith despite the odds but can be overcome by delusions of grandeur and misplaced faith e.g. Superman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Iceman, Atticus Finch
“You will make my strength your own, and see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father the son. This is all I can send you, Kal-El.” Jor-El, Superman’s father
The Innocent Savants — exceptionally talented but without much practice or understanding, a prodigy: may serve them well in a professional context, but they still find themselves running into trouble by doing things the superior experience of their more talented predecessors would tell them to avoid. e.g. David Haller/Legion, Young Guns, Kid Samurai, and Cute Bruisers.
“Everybody in here keeps saying that I’m sane. What if they’re wrong?” David Haller/Legion
C. THE SATISFIEDS
The Redeemers — heroes trying to prove to themselves they are better than they have been; harnesses the idea that past suffering may have redemptive qualities, important developmental opportunities, foster humility, elevate compassion, encourage social action, and/or provides higher order meaning and purpose e.g. Iron Man, Hawkeye, Odysseus, Boromir (Lord of the Rings), Jean Valjean (Les Misérables)
“And whatever he did, he always fell back onto this paradox at the core of his thought. To remain in paradise and become a demon! To re-enter hell and become an angel!” Jean Valjean, Les Misérables
The Explorers — rarely happy in one place, embraces new experiences, items or worlds as the key part of their personality; fiercely independent, brave and non-conformist. test their own limits (which are few), frequently at least a little alienated and self-indulgent e.g. Fantastic Four, Xu Fu, Lara Croft : Tomb Raider, Captain Nemo, Indiana Jones,
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell
The Guiding Mentors — steers others on their quest by providing access to places and info, usually older with a pedigree of deep & wide intelligence; renown for elite smarts, acquired wisdom and unwavering rational thought but can be seen as arrogant, passive and/or aloof e.g. Professor X (X-men), Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Yoda (Star Wars), M (James Bond)
“Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they can’t be saved.” Professor Charles Xavier
The Friendly Rivals — rivals to other heroes, remain at odds over specific issues or outcomes, but are genuine friends, have cordial relations and push each other to do better e.g. Johnny Storm/Human Torch, Kung Lao (Mortal Kombat), Apollo Creed (Rocky), Woody/Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Betty/Veronica (Archie)
“I know they say your best friends won’t tell you — but, geez, Spidey, forget about deodorants — have you considered Lysol?!” Human Torch to Spiderman
The Unlikely Heroes — everyday characters thrust into herodom because of circumstance or unknown power; immanently relatable to us, serve as a marker for the potential in all of us; but also remind us of the self-doubt we frequently need to overcome e.g. Invincable, Bilbo Baggins (Lord of The Rings), Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games), Lisbeth Salander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Ender Wiggin (Ender’s Game)
“I stare in the mirror as I try to remember who I am and who I am not.” Katniss Everdeen
The Patriots — performs acts of bravery based on allegiance, alliance, pride, sense of attachment or oneness with a nation, tribe or set of peoples; loves their country, puts country ahead of themselves and stands for the oppressed, but can have a superiority complex and may be be blind to their countries’ follies and challenges e.g. Jack Flag, Captain America. G.I. Joe, Master Chief, Nick Fury, Queen Boudica
“The strength of this country isn’t in buildings of brick and steel. It’s in the hearts of those who have sworn to fight for its freedom! ” Captain America
The Mystics — sorcerers, magicians, witches and wizards who are learned and naturally gifted and use their magical arts for good; known for their powers of perception, intuition & sixth senses but flawed by self-important hubris and manipulative tendencies e.g. Dr. Strange, Merlin, Gandalf, Zatanna, The Spectre
“I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass.The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.” Gandalf
D. THE NEUTRALS
The Gung-ho Action Heroes — compelled to action easily, thrill seeker, physiological arousal from the pursuit of power, happiness or dreams, embraces the path of a hero and gladly accepts the associated risk sometimes without thinking e.g. Starlord, Ellen Ripley (Alien), Rick Grimes (Walking Dead), Han Solo, John Wick
“You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.” Han Solo
The Androids— programmed to do good, may acquire some sense of humanity over time, frequently struggles with being outside of humanity and desire for human emotional experience, female counterpart — gynoid e.g Red Tornado (comic), Data (Star Trek), The Terminator (Movie), Vision (Wandvision)
“There are still many human emotions I do not fully comprehend — anger, hatred, revenge. But I am not mystified by the desire to be loved — or the need for friendship. These are things I do understand.” Lt. Cmdr. Data
The Conduits — function as a go-between and spokesperson between heroes and those they serve or partner with, and other bystanders, they are usually implements for providing some important information, objective perspective or backup support to the main hero, but may be powerless themselves to singularly provide heroic action e.g. Commissioner Gordon (Batman), Nick Carraway (Great Gatsby), Marlow (Heart of Darkness), Oscar Goldman (Bionic Man), Morpheus (Matrix)
“The signal goes on and he shows up. That’s the way it’s been, that’s the way it will be. Anything else about the man I couldn’t tell you.” Commissioner Gordon
The Turnarounds — previous villains or criminals, rehabilitating as a hero in order to redeem their wrongdoings; frequently requiring the need for the villain to feel more empathy, deal with a psychopathic mental health condition or overcome a traumatic event; the hero and the psychopath may be twigs on the same genetic branch after all e.g. Spike (Buffy the Vampire) , Rogue (Avengers), Thunderbolts, Harley Quinn, Maleficent
“Heroes are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” Iron Man
The Virtuous Protectors — noble characters with great courage and selfless bravery, dogmatic virtue and indomitable will that guides them in serving others, whether their domain of protectorship is personal, group, local, global or cosmic; typically powerful & inspiring. their downfall can come from arrogance, blind allegiance, fighting against all odds and resistance to change e.g. Knights of the Round Table, Thor, Prometheus, The Ents (Lord of the Rings), The 99, the Sworn Brothers of the Night Watch (Game of Thrones)
“With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” Uncle Ben, Spiderman’s Uncle
The Soldiers of Duty — doing their duty to fight crime and injustice, unswerving in their mission and motives but commitment to the effort can be taxing and leave them vulnerable e.g. Captain America, Green Lantern, Black Canary, Captain John Price (Call of Duty), Hellspawn
“Soldiers, when committed to a task, can’t compromise. It’s unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it’s been done.” John Keegan
The Code Following Heroes — the all-good heroes who devoutly save others from evil within the rules of valor and gallantry, part of the drama with these heroes is wrestling with their tested convictions or dueling desires and their dealing with moral dilemmas, the need to eventually act, the consequences of their actions/non-actions and the need to find an inventive third way e.g. Captain Blood, Leon the Professional, Dr. Fate. Shazam, Morgan Jones (Walking Dead), Captain Luc Picard (Star Trek)
“The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History has proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well-intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.” Captain Jean-Luc Picard
E. THE BEGRUDGING
The Engineered Heroes — designed with purpose to be faster, smarter or stronger than everyone else, effectively of their own design and making, ingenuous, resilient and self-made, may waver in loyalty to their builders, architects and/or their own creations e.g. Iron Man, Ant Man, RoboCop
Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, and what are you? Reply “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” Tony Stark, Iron Man
The Hidden Identities -perform anonymous acts of good, but live in fear that their real identity will be found out Clark/Kent/Superman, Peter Parker/Spiderman, Billy Batson/Shazam, Bruce Banner/The Hulk
“Maybe the real reason I became the Hulk…was to protect the world from Banner.” The Hulk
The Deducers — fascinated by mind challenges, solving mysteries, and possessing an advanced brain, tapping brains over brawn, people defer to them because of her natural intelligence and intuition, can be unpleasant due to arrogance and intellectual superiority e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Hellboy, Multiple Man, Elongated Man, Nancy Drew
“You will not apply my precept,” he said, shaking his head. “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? We know that he did not come through the door, the window, or the chimney. We also know that he could not have been concealed in the room, as there is no concealment possible. When, then, did he come?” Sherlock Holmes
The Outsiders — humiliated or isolated from society, trying to prove they’re not monsters; they live outside society’s norms, usually because they have been purposefully cast out by society but sometimes having left on their own volition, unable to accept the restraints which society places on them; tend to be more creative and can either exhibit feelings of trying to conform or conversely, rejecting the need to conform e.g. The Hulk, X-Men, The Outsiders, Winston (Nineteen Eight-Four), Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones)
“While often viewed as the oppressed, disenfranchised, the losers of society, outsiders also claim a particular sense of power. They are frequently individuals who have chosen to step outside the accepted rules of society” Elizabeth Steding
The Reluctant Heroes — never wanted to be a hero, but do it because he/she has to; may have to be pushed and prodded into it: a tarnished or ordinary man/woman with several faults or a troubled past, and is pulled reluctantly into the story, or into heroic acts. e.g. Jessica Jones, Ragnar Lothbrok (Vikings), John McClane (Die Hard), Avatar Aang, Doctor Who, Shrek
“Because improbable tragedies create improbable superheroes.” — Fredrik Backman
The Chosen Ones — heroes regarded as the only one to defend against evil, has cloak of heroism thrown on them by others; they are pre-destined to achieve some heightened state, salvation, victory or emergence, and frequently are led to the happily ever after e.g. Neo (The Matrix), Aragorn (Lord of the Rings), John Connor (Terminator), Kara Thrace/Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), Connor Macleod (Highlander)
“There’s glory and honour in being chosen. But not much room for free will.” Elizabeth Wein
The Deities — supreme or divine powers that may exert, defend or guide powers in defence of their societies or other heroes e.g. Zeus, Zauriel, Black Adam, Hancock, Hercules
“Without god everything is allowed.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
F. THE DISGRUNTLED
The Anti-heroes — perform good but lack heroic traits like idealism or morality, ambiguous protagonists — complex characters who have a dark side; despite a flawed exterior, making a history of bad decisions, and even a questionable moral code; an antihero is ultimately guided by good intentions with the means justifying the act, goal driven and pragmatic in achieving their mission e.g. Billy Butcher (The Boys), Daredevil, Black Widow, Dexter
“And how do you know the angels and the Devil inside me aren’t the same things?” Matt Murdock, Daredevil
The Geniuses — blessed with superhuman intelligence, smart, rational and resourceful but may struggle with emotion and purpose e.g. Beast — Hank McCoy (Xmen), The Atom, Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt, Mister Terrific, Athena
“I don’t believe in fate. I believe in choices” Ray Palmer, The Atom
The Orphans — a very popular origin story for heroes and protagonists following the self-determination rags to riches story path; people with tragic and humble origins, trying to lift themselves up from ashes E.g. Spider-Man, Shang-Chi, Harry Potter, Cinderella, Sophie (BFG), Jane Eyre, Frodo, Tarzan, Daenerys Targaryen
“Because improbable tragedies create improbable superheroes.” Fredrik Backman
The Convenient Allies — not particularly invested in a central cause, but act in concert with others as a payback or in advance to another cause, often depicted as loyal but surly followers willing to go along for the greater good e.g. Falcon/Black Widow with Captain America (Winter Soldier), Hermes w/ Apollo (Greek Mythology), Han Solo with Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Legolas and Gimli (Lord of The Rings)
“Gimli: Never thought I’d die fighting side by side with an Elf. Legolas: What about side by side with a friend? Gimli: Aye. I could do that.” Lord of The Rings, The Return of the King
The Tragic Heroes — heroes with an abundance of virtue and strengths but owning some hidden or glaring flaw(s) that leads or can lead to their demise; Aristotle broke the tragic hero’s journey into 6 parts:
- Hamartia : the hero’s tragic flaw that leads to their downfall
- Hubris : the hero’s excessive or unreasonable pride
- Peripeteia : the sudden change or reversal of fortune
- Anagnorisis : ‘recognition’ where hero learns something about themselves and the world
- Nemesis is the unavoidable punishment for the hero
- Catharsis is the hero’s inevitable downfall
e.g. Achilles (Greek Mythology), Jean Grey/Phoenix (Xmen), Severus Snape (Harry Potter), Romeo Montague (Shakespeare)
“The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.” Severus Snape
The Rulers — “one who governs”, who holds some type of royal or sovereign bloodlines, elected chiefdom or divine appointment; establishes order & defends tradition; typically figures of stability not change; exhibiting some type of benevolence attempting to make the land or places better for a people(s) (unlike tyrants who use authority for cruelty and oppression), even as heroes usually depicted as stern, entitled, obstinate, vengeful or supremacist e.g. Valkyrie (Avengers), Black Panther/ King T’Challa (Marvel), Conan the Barbarian(film), King Theseus (Greek mythology)
“The world is changing. Soon there will only be the conquered and the conquerors. You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be a king.” — King T’Chaka
The Rebels — produces social good but insist on not conforming; strives against the establishment and system that they believe are corrupt, and may have been part of that system before seeing the evil of their ways; commendable for their risk taking. bravery and honesty but flawed by their negativity, brooding fanaticism and embrace of lawlessness e.g. Doom Patrol (comics), Spartacus (Thracian/Roman history), Lando Calrissian (Star Wars), Spawn (comics)
“Maybe you haven’t seen the world, Elliot, but I have, and trust me, it’s garbage. People lie, and they hurt each other. And they wear these things on their feet called Crocs.” Rita Farr, Elastin Woman, Doom Patrol
G. THE MISERABLES
The Vigilantes — take justice in their own hands, seek out justice their own way outside of the sanctions of the law; can straddle the line between hero and villain and invariably bump up against the establishment e.g. The Shadow, Punisher, Red Hood, Zorro
“There are three key factors which lend themselves to the establishment of vigilantism: first, dissatisfaction with present levels of order and justice; second, experience and awareness of such actions elsewhere and thirdly a pre-existing social and cultural template.” Gavin Weston
The Mercenaries — do good for the sake of reward, selling their talents to the highest bidders, presented with interesting moral quandaries, but typical disregard them in pursuit of professional completion of task e.g. Samurai, Domino, Elektra, Black Company
“Essentially, the mercenary sets morality aside, or at best reorders the customary structures to fit the needs of his way of life. The great issues become how well he does his job, how faithfully he carries out his commission, how well he adheres to a standard demanding unswerving loyalties to his comrades. He dehumanizes the world outside the bounds of his outfit. Then anything he does, or witnesses, becomes of minor significance as long as its brunt is borne outside the Company.” Glen Cook
The Tortured Heroes — the arrogant, brooding, darkly romantic hero — evoking Byron; sullen, withdrawn, hard to like and hard to know, but usually possessing a rich inner life and a softer side accessible to a chosen few e.g. Angel (Buffy the Vampire), Wanda/Scarlet Witch, Rogue, Ghost Rider.
“I’m the only one who can walk in both worlds. I’m the Ghost Rider.” Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider
The Outcast Loners — never seems to fit with society, socially left out based on experience or by choice, possess feelings of self-righteousness and deservedness from their alienation e.g. The Outsiders, Doom Patrol, Dr. Strange. Swamp Thing
“They just me before they know me.. that’s why I am better off alone.”
The Self Hatreds — feels the disgust of their metamorphosis or beastly features but maintains their look/powers to help others e.g. The Thing, Wolverine, Green Arrow
“One could ask any person with feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing — or the person can ask himself or herself — “in what way do you hate yourself?” The more a person understands his or her self-loathing, the bette prepared he or she is to start to address it. Facing it, addressing it, and fighting it, despite all the barriers the self-loathing person puts up against it — now that’s heroic.” Mark D. White
The Avengers — victims of injustice seeking justice, often single-minded in their pursuit e.g. Batman, Rorschach, Katana, The Crow
“It’s Not Who I Am Underneath, But What I Do, That Defines Me.” Batman
The Anti-Villains — performs evil deeds for noble cause, or what they believe is a noble cause; do evil, usually characterized as villains but may have more humanizing qualities or goals. e.g. Magneto, Dr. Doom, Venom, Catwoman
“Theres always a need for new superheroes. As society changes, the types of superheroes will probably change as well.” — Matt Bomer
RECAP — THE HERO ARCHETYPES
Grey Swan Guild — Join our 50 Shades of Heroes
Hopefully some of you will think about joining our collective that tries to make sense of thee world and the future. There may even be heroes among us.
We are a post-modern version of the Guild — here is the collquial version of who we are:
- Learn: https://www.greyswanguild.org/
- Read: https://greyswanguild.medium.com/
- Attend: https://www.greyswanguild.org/calendar
- Become a Member: https://bit.ly/gsgsmemberform
- Go Deeper: https://bit.ly/lofsenseform
- Provide a Habit of a Sensemaker/Critical Thinker: https://bit.ly/thinkinghabits
Welcome A Grey Swan Venture
Join one of our twelve ventures that bravely attempt to make sense of the world while bringing value to life.
- Join a Venture: https://bit.ly/gsgventures
Grey Swan Guild
Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢
Website hub: https://www.greyswanguild.org/