Creative Writing

Avatar Movie Review Essay: Hero’s Journey in Avatar by James Cameron

Avatar Movie Review Essay:

Jake Sully in Avatar: Hero’s Journey Analysis

Avatar the movie by James Cameron

Throughout one’s life, one continuously enters and completes the Hero’s Journey, a universal pattern of experience, by facing and conquering numerous challenges in one’s lives. This pattern is reflected everywhere, including books and movies. One of the abundance of movies that portrays the Hero’s Journey is the hit movie Avatar by James Cameron. The movie’s hero, Jake Sully, is invited into the Avatar program on moon Pandora. Quickly, his curiosity brews him trouble, and he must gain trust of the moon’s native people, the Na’vi to find a way to get their earth’s unobtainium, a mineral. However, confused, he soon sees humans in a different light, questions their actions, and must make an essential decision to which group he will support.

Thesis in Avatar Movie Review Essay

II. Thesis: The movie Avatar parallels and illustrates the Hero’s Journey on a futuristic, alien moon, initiating and placing hero, Jake Sully, through a winded course of challenges as he struggles internally with the conflict of whether to be loyal to the human race or the Na’vi.

The Separation in the Hero’s Journey: Avatar Movie

A. The Separation: Through the Call, Jake Sully, a former Marine, is sent to Pandora to replace his deceased brother, and is guided in the beginning of his journey by mentors and helpers as he enters the unknown world of Pandora.

1. The Call: Avatar Hero’s Journey

a. Jake Sully is Invited to replace twin brother in Pandora .

  • 1) Has identical genes
  • b. Incentive, bribed
  • 1) Job pays lots of money
  • 2) Offered surgery to restore his legs, parapelgic
  • c. Job, go out into Na’vi territory to study natives
  • 1) Faces unknown territory of Pandora
Jake Sully’s new Na’vi body

2. The Threshold: Avatar Hero’s Journey

  • a. Enters Avatar body, go to Pandora forest (picture of Jake first time in Avatar body, in hospital-like room)
  • 1) Leaves known world of Earth
  • 2) Faces unknown
  • 3) Pandora forest full of dangerous creatures (picture of creatures in forest)
  • b. Is taught about the Na’vi
  • 1) Humanoid blue creatures 
  • 2) Blue symbolizes strength, freedom, loyalty (picture of Na’vi blue face, loyally grouping around Jake’s side)
  • c. Grace, guide him, Threshold guardian, Helper 
  • 1) Teaches him culture, Pandora life
  • 2) Does not approve of spying, but needs him to learn about the Na’vi (picture of Grace teaching Jake about Pandora on computer)
  • 3) Gives him advice and training to be stronger
  • 4) Prepares him for journey
  •                                  d. Neytiri, Helper 
  • 1) Tells about culture
  • 2) Helps strengthen his Avatar body
  • 3) Teaches him Na’vi ways (picture of Neytiri teaching Jake how to use the bow)
  • 4) Assists in battle against humans
  • e. Colonel Miles Quaritch, Threshold Guardian
  • 1) Prepares him, reminds him of his allegiance to humans
  • 2) Gives him instructions to spy (picture of Quaritch discussing about plans with Jake)
  • 3) Tells him to gain the Na’vi’s trust, learn their secrets
  •                                     f. Mentors give him strength and motivation
  • 1) Give him strength and hope
  • 2) Backs him up, assists during challenges, prevents entering if not ready
  • 3) Takes him into the trees of Pandora
  • g. Divine helper, Ewya, Mentor 
  • 1) Stops Neytiri from shooting him
  • 2) Causes the Na’vi to trust him
  • 3) Gives hope, backup during war
  • i. Renews their strength
Pandora’s unique biome

B. Initiation and Transformation: Avatar Hero’s Journey

Jake encounters many challenges as he is initiated into the Na’vi world, and while overcoming those adversities, he is characterized more and more as a hero undergoing a journey.

1. Challenges: Avatar Hero’s Journey

The Na’vi of Pandora
  • a. First time in Pandora forest, near death escape
  • b. Curious, courageous, reckless
  • 1) Leads him to trouble, meets Neytiri
  • 2) Is allowed to enter Na’vi territory, learns more
  • c. Must gain Na’vi’s trust
  • 1) Disliked for being human
  • 2) Learn their customs, undergo harsh training, strengthen body
  • 3) Tames/rides banshee, accepted
  • d. Act as a spy for the humans
  • 1) Giving them information about the Na’vi society
  • 2) Informs them of the structure of Hometree (picture of them talking about their plans of destroying Hometree)
  • 3) Reveals cunning skills, stealth improves as agent
  • e. Changes: begins to love the Na’vi culture, confused whether support humans
  • 1)  Values nature, culture of Na’vi, does not want to destroy Hometree
  • 2) Makes decision to support Na’vi side
  • 3) Face fear of betraying own race, faces the challenge and jumps off into the abyss

2. Abyss: Avatar Hero’s Journey

  • a. Humans vs Na’vi war
  • 1) Outcasted by Na’vi for being a spy
  • 2) Low point = out-casted by both races
  • 3) Greatest fear, which side to choose
  • b. Goes against humans, must regain trust of friends/Na’vi
  • 1) Tames the beast Toruk, legendary banshee
  • 2) Toruk = symbol of strength and hope
  • 3) Regains the trust of the Na’vi, due to conquer of Toruk (picture of Toruk and Jake riding down to the People) 
  • 4) Becomes a leader, unites clans to fight together
  • c. Allegory, relates to Native Americans forced off their land
  • 1) Settlers invade Native territory
  • 2) Humans against Na’vi, parallels settlers against natives
  • e. Na’vi and the humans battle
  • 1) Humans sending explosives to destroy the Tree of Souls 2) Fearless when fighting (picture of Jake riding  on Toruk, fighting human flying ships)
  • 3) Does not hesitate to bravely charge into battle against his own race, shows courage
  • 4) Na’vi being to lose, Eywa helps (picture of creatures attacking humans)
  • f. Na’vi win the battle
  • 1) Jake, still human, almost died, saved by Neytiri
  • g. Great leader, heroic characteristics
  •                                                  1) Unites other tribes, the People to fight, inspires hope, strength
  •  2) Creates plan to defeat humans, leads Na’vi to victory
  •     3.  The Transformation
  • a. Supports the Na’vi instead of the humans
  • b. Becomes one of the people, the Na’vi
  • 1) Transformed into his Avatar body (picture of the ritual, Jake transferring soul to Avatar body)
  •     4.  The Revelation
  • a. Jake, thinking like a Na’vi
  • 1) Respects flow of nature and Ewya
  • 2) Realizes Na’vi deserve to be treated fairly and with respect
  • 3) Values freedom and their customs
  • b. Appreciate nature, theme
  •              1) Realizes true beauty of the tree
  •              2) The Na’vis’ lives, dependent on nature
  • c. Realizes how destructive greed is, social commentary, theme
  • 1) People, becoming corrupted from greed
  • 2) Unobtainium, worth lost of money
  • 3) Turns people into savages, do anything to get what want
  • 4) Humans,  destroy Hometree, no care for dying Na’vi (picture of humans burning Hometree, Na’vi escaping and dying from fire)
  • 5. The Atonement
  • a. Makes a fresh start
  • 1) Accepted into the Na’vi tribe, physically one of them
  • 2) Accepts their customs and beliefs,
  • 3) Dramatic change, distaste for humans, be one with nature
  • b. Becomes a leader
  • 1)  Proves capability with Toruk
  • 2) Sign of peace, Toruk symbol flying away (picture of Toruk flying away)
Movie poster of Avatar the movie – featured in China

C.  Return: Avatar Hero’s Journey

After Jake Sully’s initiation and transformation from successfully conquering the war against the humans, his Abyss, he returns, renews, and contributes to his society by bringing peace in his new homeland, Pandora. 

  • 1. Renews Pandora community
  • a. Drives humans back home to Earth (picture of lined up humans going home)
  • b. Stays, starts new life with Na’vi and Neytiri
  •               1) New leader, giving the People new strength
  • 2) Leads, to reconstruct home
  • 2. Contribution to society
  • a. Creates peace among humans, clans, and homeland
  • b. No more wars or devastation
The Hero’s Journey

Conclusion of Hero’s Journey in Avatar the Movie by James Cameron

IV. Conclusion:  Jake Sully embarks onto the Hero’s Journey when he is invited into the Avatar Program and is detached from the human world and into the land of Pandora, where he must earn the native people’s trust. Throughout his journey, with guidance from Grace, Neytiri, Ewya, and Colonel Quaritch, he learns to communicate with the native people and understand their customs but encounters a myriad of challenges along the way. Jake’s confidence, audaciousness, and leadership is revealed as he overcomes each adversity, including his greatest fear of betraying his own race by deciding to take sides with the Na’vi and their ideals of nature at his journey’s Abyss, the war against humans. His journey significantly changes him and causes him to become more respectful of nature and the Na’vi’s culture and return to society with the contribution of peace. By watching Avatar and its plot paralleling the Hero’s Journey, the audience can then better recognize the Journey’s stages and  essentially respect their lives’ experiences. They will also begin to appreciate these opportunities to grow and discover after understanding Avatar’s portrayal of the Hero’s Journey. Lastly, the audience will gain a deep appreciation of this wonderful movie’s insight about protecting our environment, embracing community, and new cultures and languages of our diverse world.

Did you enjoy Avatar the Movie, and our Essay Review? Leave your thoughts below! 😀

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8 replies »

  1. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

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