Hero’s Journey’ing The Force Awakens Trailer

I never considered that filmmakers might use storytelling structures to cut their trailers but I guess it does make sense.

Hero’s Journey’ing The Force Awakens Trailer

The latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out and it is particularly awesome.

At some point after the 10th or so viewing, I recognized a familiar pattern. For anyone familiar with the Hero’s Journey (either as described by Campbell or Volger), Star Wars has been one of the go-to examples to illustrate how the structure works. For anyone familiar with how long it takes to read Campbell or Volger, Community creator, Dan Harmon, lays out a much more simplified structure. It’s simplified enough that he was able to create a show called Laser Fart based on it. Of course, he later created one of the best comedies of all time.

Anyhoos, the trailer for The Force Awakens seems to follow a similar structure. I thought I would lay that out here because that seems to be the kind of thing the internet is used for. A couple of the shots are a little out of order but that’s just to make it easier for me (read: to accommodate my laziness). I’ll attempt to map it out for both Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) but the trailer follows Finn a little closer. Based on what I can tell, they’ll both (hopefully) have their own distinct journeys. If you’re not familiar with the Hero’s Journey, you should probably scan Harmon’s explanation first.

Starts In a Zone of Comfort

The comfort of a vast and lonely desert. Introverted bliss.

But They Still Want Something

Finn seems uneasy about being a stormtrooper and is contemplating whether to give the First Order 1 or 2 stars on Glassdoor.com. Rey has a very Luke-ish (hint?) desire to be anywhere but where she is.

So They Cross into an Unfamiliar Situation

Meeting the mentor: ”Get off my Millennium Falcon! Just kidding, the Force and all that stuff is real.”

My guess is that in the movie, Luke will actually play the mentor archetype. Keep in mind that in the traditional structure, the mentor is “lost” at some point (a la Obi Wan).

It's Go time!

And Adapt to It

A new world
Trials and tribulations
Friends and allies

Until They Find What They Wanted…

A twist?

“5 Stars! The Rebel Alliance is the best. I finally know where I belong.” -Finn’s Glassdoor review. “PS. I may or may not be able to move stuff with my mind.”

…But then Pay the Price for It

And Then Return to a Familiar Situation…

Finn schedules a one-on-one meeting with an old First Order partner, Kylo Ren.

…Having Changed

As a motherfucking Jedi. Maybe.

Ren is also not taking anyone’s shit either. Angrily not taking anyone’s shit. Dark side angrily?

End Credits

I never considered that filmmakers might use storytelling structures to cut their trailers but I guess it does make sense. Though, JJ Abrams strikes me as the kind of person who would put that much effort into it. I’d have go back and look at other trailers to see if this is common or not (note: probably not going to anytime soon so feel free to just let me know).

Again, this is the structure for only the trailer. The movie may play out differently and I expect it will.