My Hero’s Journey is Kind of Like Terminator, Alien and Other Stuff

Funny where sparks for ideas come from. The idea to do this post came from a post on heroines by Amy Rose Davis. After leaving my comment about Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley (the heroines I like), I realized those same heroines are similar to the hero I’m creating for my vampire series.

Sarah Connor: When we first meet Sarah in The Terminator, she’s an average gal waiting tables by day and dating at night. To say her world is turned upside down when she learns she’s the mother of the future’s salvation would be an uber understatement. Add to that a killing machine prepared to chase her to the ends of the earth you’ve got the perfect storm to breakdown and give up.

She doesn’t.

She’s scared out of her mind and initially needs Kyle Reece (Also sent from the future) to protect her. But by the last act of the movie, she’s no longer the average twenty-something. In fact, SHE has to protect Kyle and ultimately defeats the monster. A complete transformation into a hero.

Once we get to the sequel, Sarah’s changed further and become a force as formidable as, if not more than, Kyle. But she’s not indestructible. She’s still got fears and weaknesses to work through. She’s still evolving while never losing the “average gal” part of her. It’s the reason she loves her son and the reason she can make peace with The Terminator. That’s what kept her human to me.

Ellen Ripley: Ellen is a space trucker. Aside from the “space” part, it’s as average and ordinary as it gets. But when an alien gets aboard her ship and is picking off her crew one by one, she’s got two choices: Live or die. And by live I don’t mean looking for a monster showdown. I mean SURVIVE, which in her case, is getting to the escape pod. Unfortunately it becomes clear she has to face the alien. She accepts this and uses her brain, not her strength, to outsmart and defeat the monster.

For the sequel, she has to return to the Alien planet (where humans have started to colonize) and face her greatest fear. Sure, she’s got marines with her, but still. During the movie she meets a little girl nick-named Newt who appears to be the only colonist left alive. She and Newt bond just in time for Newt to be taken captive by the Alien hive. Once again she has two choices: Save Newt or save herself. Maybe this sounds like a no-brainer, but remember, saving Newt involves walking into a nest FILLED with the monsters she fears the most. And Ellen is human. Self-preservation is in our nature and perhaps that thought went through her head. But being the hero she is, she confronts her fear and defeats the monster.

My hero isn’t a hero. He’s an office drone trying to stay far below the radar. He’s average on the verge of boring, but that’s his choice. Inside there’s someone special that’s worth knowing. All he has to do is believe in himself. On top of that he’s got no memories of his past. He reminds me of Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry.

After a near fatal gunshot to the head, Henry is left with no memories and has to relearn how to function in his world. During this process, new aspects (Or maybe aspects that were always there) begin to surface. They shape him into a new Henry. A better Henry.

Right now my hero is Henry, just after the gunshot. A blank slate with a lot of potential and I want each of his adventures to add another piece of what he needs to become the hero he really is.

Now if only I could finish writing the first adventure . . .

In the meantime, what sorts of qualities in heroes do you like?

Info stuff- Follow my ROW80 progress every Wednesday and Sunday and be here Tuesdays and Thursdays for new posts on me, writing, superheroes, monsters, comics and any other geeky stuff on my mind.

14 comments on “My Hero’s Journey is Kind of Like Terminator, Alien and Other Stuff

  1. Good post here. I really liked Sarah and Ellen, but I haven’t seen Henry. I’ll have to see that movie. It sounds like you are going into this with a lot of intelligence and thought.

    What do I want in a hero? I want failure, lots of downs, walls in their way, unobtainable goals that they are too determined to give up on, strength of will, emotions that are real, some humor in the worst situations and the ability to pick themselves up.

    • You’ll like Regarding Henry. It has many emotional levels to it. Plus its written by J.J. Abrams and we enjoyed his work from Lost.

      The hero qualities you like fit right in with what I’m going for with mine, so you should (hopefully) enjoy my book when it’s ready.

  2. Nice post, Andrew. Now you really must go read Monster Hunter International.

    Meanwhile, not really having much to do with what I’m writing now, what I’m enjoying watching is the super-smart hero. We’ve been watching House again. Just finished season 4. House is a fantastic character and no matter how else he fails as a human–and he knows he fails–he’s always got his brain and his puzzles. I loved how different the last two episodes of season 4 were (the bus crash) and seeing how his brain is always working, how he’s diagnosing people all the time even if he doesn’t say anything, and how far he’s willing to go to push through amnesia and figure out what he saw and what it meant. When I watch House I wonder a lot about the writing that goes on behind it.

    While I wait for some season 5 discs, I decided that my grasp of high school culture and facility for snappy comebacks would be well served by watching another super-smart lead: Veronica Mars. One of the things that freaking rocks about Veronica’s smarts is that her story avoids making her cliche by not making her social problems a direct result of being smart. She can be Willow smart without seeing the softer side of Sears.

    This whole super-smart hero thing is making me want to pick up reading the Jack Reacher series again.

    • Ah, House. There’s a great storyline dealing with House’s ability to solve problems in season 5. Plus the fallout from the season 4 ender. I wonder if there really are guys able to automatically evaluate everything a person says or does like him. What a mind!

      Veronica Mars, another awesome pick that I suspect was never taken as seriously as it should’ve been because it was a “teen drama”. It was SO complex and twisty that is was simplified a bit for its last season to get more viewers.

      Sometimes I think she was too smart for her good, which lead to more fantastic storylines. But with all her smarts it wouldn’t have been as good for me without the relationship with her father.

      Thanks again about the MHI.

  3. Like Draven, I like deeply flawed heroes. Those who struggle and second-guess themselves, but ultimately succeed (or not) partially by accident. Yes, their deliberate actions lead them to the final battle, but their flaws play a part in the outcome.

  4. Great post, Andrew. These are definitely kick butt heroes!

  5. Oh, wow! So many people completely forget Regarding Henry even exists! It’s one of my favorite movies though. It’s nice to see someone else talking about it.

    Also, Sarah Connor is one my heroes! Her evolution is ASTOUNDING, and she’s so kick-ass in T2. But its more than her abilities that make her so cool, it’s also her determination, her sense of duty, and her conflicted morality (especially in T2) that make her so amazing.

    Great post!

    • With J.J. Abrams being so popular now, you’d think, to at least cash in, there would be a bigger push for the movie. I could probably write a whole post on it. Hmm . . . maybe I will.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. In an alternate universe, I’m a gun-toting, hard-ass, space adventuring Ellen Ripley…

    Hey, a girl can dream, right?

  7. I’m not sure who my hero mirrors, but she definitely grows. GREAT post. Linda Hamilton really transformed for her role in Terminator….and Sarah Connor had fabulous character growth.

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