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Old 10-27-2010, 07:05 AM
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Default Heroic archetypes in Avatar

I'm kind of a geek for amateur analysis, so I've been wanting to start this discussion for a while. Here's one list of hero sub-types I found (though it's by no means definitive):
Heroic characters

If you look at all the stories that have ever been told, certain kinds of heroes keep showing up over and over again. I think a good storyteller is someone who can take these old archetypes and make them fresh and exciting again, and I personally think James Cameron did a good job of this.

I might as well start us off with Jake. One of the things I find most compelling is the way he combines multiple archetypes (some of them very old) into one character, and he also changes throughout the story. From the list, I'd say "The Leader" fits him pretty well, but "Accidental hero" seems to fit him best, and there are also some hints of "Anti-hero" mixed in. This gives his brand of heroism a pretty modern "feel"... it has this sort of reluctant, conflicted, gritty edge to it.

At the same time, there are elements to his story that are 100% classic hero, drawing from themes that are old as dirt. In a lot of mythology (Greek, for instance), the hero has to have some kind of unusual and/or miraculous birth (check), he must be favored by one or more deities (check), and he has to die at the end (sort-of check). For more old themes, I've seen people point out the Christ-like parallels, the most obvious one being that he has a sort of "resurrection" at the end of the movie. There's also a shot from one of the deleted "Earth" scenes where Jake's lying spread-eagled in a classic "crucifixion" pose, so I don't think it's accidental.

I think it's cool that Avatar gives us a character who exhibits this grand, sweeping, mythological heroism without making him "feel" like that kind of old-fashioned character.

What do you guys think? Do you agree/disagree? Where do you think the other heroes of Avatar "fit?"
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