Lesson Plan

Movie Heroes and the Heroic Journey - Lesson

Lesson Plan

Level(s): Grades 11 - 12

Author: “Movie Heroes and the Heroic Journey” was adapted from the The AML Anthology. Supplement (1992), produced by the Association for Media Literacy.  By Don Walker, Metropolitan Toronto Separate School Board and Leslie Johnstone, York Region Board of Education.


The place of the hero in our modern lives is a site of struggle. On the one hand, the hero’s quest can have meanings for individuals who seek to understand their own journey through life. On the other hand, the hero can be seen as a repository of those values esteemed by the society. The study of the hero as social icon offers the student an opportunity to reflect on and critique the dominant reading of the hero, as well as to consider oppositional readings. In this lesson, students will be introduced to the work of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell and will have the opportunity to apply these theories to the examination of heroes. (Note: Teachers should replace any movies and heroic figures who no longer seem relevant with more recent examples.)


To enable students to:

  • differentiate between a classical hero, modern hero and a celebrity.
  • identify the stages of the heroic quest.
  • identify the dominant ideology of the culture as exemplified by a hero, and to negotiate an oppositional reading.
  • see the application of the quest motif to their own lives.
  • understand the role of the villain as the dark side of the hero, and the repository or reflection of the fears and concerns of society.
  • appreciate variations of the heroic journey in different film genres.
  • predict future manifestations of the heroic archetype.
  • analyze critically the impact of technology both on our notions of the hero or the heroic, and on the values of our society.

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit: