Heroes in Action: Odysseus & Spiderman
The late actor, Christopher Reeve, once stated, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” In the epic, Odyssey, by Homer and the film, Spiderman, directed by Sam Raimi, the crux of the storyline relates to a hero and the challenges they face along the way. In the Odyssey, Odysseus is the main character. The epic tale outlines his travels as he attempts to travel back to his home against the will of some gods. In Spiderman, Peter Parker is the main character. He undergoes a transformation from a human to spider-like characteristics and abilities. Peter Parker devotes his life to saving others who are in need. Although Odysseus’s heroic journey in Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey and Spiderman’s heroic journey in Sam Raimi’s movie Spiderman share many characteristics of Joseph Campbell’s hero journey hero pattern, some differences occur.
The Odyssey and Spiderman have distinct differences and specific similarities which begin in the main characters’ departure from their current lives. In the beginning of the stories, the departure starts in their ordinary world where they experience a call to adventure, refuse the call at first, and then the characters, Odysseus and Peter Parker, cross over the threshold. The ordinary lives of these two characters are quite different. While Odysseus lives a royal life as king of Ithaca, Peter is a normal geek in high school living in Queens, New York. Later the protagonists are presented with a problem or adventure. Odysseus’s call to adventure is when he is drafted into the Trojan War. Because Odysseus wishes to stay in Ithaca with this wife, Penelope, and his son, Telemachus, he pretends to be insane. In the end, he fails and is forced to uphold his oath in having to sail to Troy. On the other hand, Peter Parker’s adventure begins when he goes on a field trip to a genetics laboratory and is bitten by a genetically engineered spider that gives him spiderlike powers. These two adventures are different in that Odysseus is drafted into war, which is much more realistic than Peter being bitten by a fictional spider that gives him the characteristics and abilities of a spider.
When Odysseus and Peter are called into their adventure, they are scared and refuse the call. At first, Odysseus pretends to be insane and plows a field using salt, but the Greeks force his hand by placing the baby Telemachus in front of the plow. When the Greeks commit this action, Odysseus is given the choice to either kill his own son or turn the oxen aside proving that he is sane and capable of fighting in the war. Odysseus chooses his son’s safety and participates in the war. Likewise, Peter refuses his call when he allows the man, who robbed the person in charge of the wrestling match, to escape. Because Peter let the robber escape, the bandit kills his father. In comparison, Odysseus and Peter Parker are faced with the task of protecting their loved ones. As expected, the two characters handled their situations differently. Although Odysseus pulls his plow over to protect his son, Peter failed to catch the thief who ultimately killed his father.
Additionally, Odysseus and Peter cross over the threshold leaving the ordinary world and entering into the special world. In Odysseus’s case, the crossover is when he goes down into the underworld to speak to Tiresias. Peter crosses over when he sees the robber who kills his father and goes after him. After fighting and killing the bandit, Peter dedicates his life to fighting crime. Odysseus’s and Peter’s actions are dissimilar because Odysseus physically crosses the threshold, whereas Peter mentally crosses the threshold.
During the journey, the hero collides with a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey. Circe, a witch-goddess who turns Odysseus’s...
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