“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles,” said by Christopher Reeve when defining a hero. This quote perfectly describes the main character from the movie Iron Man, where a world-renown engineer builds a super-suit complete with futuristic weapons to save the world. Many worlds and multiple millennia apart from Iron Man is Odysseus from The Odyssey, written by Homer, who follows the same basic hero’s journey. Iron Man is about a revolutionary entrepreneur who creates weapons of mass destruction and who eventually builds a suit of armor to save the day. The Odyssey is about a Greek king on his way home from the battle of Troy, the challenges he encounters during his journey and how the gods influence his path. But in the basic structure of both stories is an old pattern that is very common today. The “Hero’s Journey Archetype” is a well known story pattern used in almost all types of written and visual media. In comparing the two forms of media, The Odyssey and Iron Man, which have two obviously different heroes and different respective journeys, it is revealed just how prevalent the hero’s journey archetype is to today’s story-tellers as it was to Homer in the days of old.
The first part of the hero’s journey entails the “Ordinary World”, the hero’s life before the story or journey takes place. Next is the “Call to Adventure” where the hero is given a problem in which he must undertake. The hero then can “Refuse the Call” usually out of fear or intimidation by the challenge. The hero also meets a mentor to receive advice, support and confidence in preparation to face the adventure. Lastly, in part one of the hero’s archetype is “Crossing the Threshold” which is the first event that separates the hero from the real world as he enters the special or super world. The closest thing Odysseus has to an ordinary world is in Book I of The Odyssey, living with the witch goddess Calypso on the island of Ogygia.
This is ordinary to Odysseus because he lives there for seven years and this is the most ordinary everyday lifestyle of drinking and feasting that he experiences. The ordinary lives of both Odysseus and Tony Stark, from Iron Man, have in common that they are both playboys of their times. Odysseus is seduced and unfaithful with Calypso during his seven year stay and Tony Stark is known for his reputation with women and how he can never commit to just one. Tony Stark’s ordinary world also consists of a casual life of luxury and being a well-known scientist creating weapons of all sorts. In Book V of The Odyssey, Odysseus’ call to adventure takes place while still on Calypso’s island where Hermes the messenger god demands to Calypso that Odysseus be set free: “That’s the man, and the orders are to send him away at once; for it is not his fate to perish in the place far from his friends.
It is decreed that he shall see his friends again, and return to his native land”(Homer 64). This allows Odysseus to finally leave the island of Ogygia and to set sail on his journey home. In the more modern take, in Iron Man, Tony Stark is involved in a military convoy after a weapons demonstration in the Middle East. After taking fire from so-called terrorists, with weapons that he created, he is imprisoned by a military force in Afghanistan. While in captivity Stark builds a robotic iron suit from scrapes of weapons given to him by the terrorists. Both calls to action are prevalent. Though each hero is called to accomplish a different task for a different goal for their respective journeys, the one similarity between the two is that both of their calls are to escape from somewhere, Odysseus, being on an island with a goddess and Stark being held in a cave by terrorists.