The Heroine’s Journey


The success of the latest Wonder Woman film has drawn attention to the role of the strong heroine in storytelling. This article by screenwriter Ken Miyamoto takes on the classic hero structure by Joseph Campbell and discusses how the heroine’s journey is cast a bit differently (but not any less powerful or transformational).

I actually wrote about this topic in graduate school (part of that essay was published in the online mag Women Writers ) and I was largely informed by Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing (which came out in the 1980s!)–check out especially her essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.” Here, Le Guin posits that the novel resists the classic “hero” story; that, like a medicine bundle, it’s a bundle of words and relationships. Science fiction, like that from Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Marge Piercy and Joanna Russ, in particular pose challenges to patriarchally-infused storytelling that Campbell laid out.

Film, with its use of multiple modes (language, visual, music) perhaps needs a more streamlined, recognizable structure, but it’s good to see teachers and screenwriters recognizing and discussing that ways that in this day and age, we need to reconceptualize Campbell’s monomyth. Interesting stuff, and I like how Miyamato brings this full circle to talk about how looking at story in this way brings new depth to stories and films–whatever the gender.


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