Frivolity,  TV and Film,  Writing

Avengers, Archetypes and Poll

I often get behind on pop culture, but try to catch up during our weekly Take-out & Video Night. Lately we’ve been watching the Avengers films. While action alone is OK for my husband, but my daughters and I need more. Joss Whedon’s attention to characterization is what makes these movies for us.  Every superhero is distinctly different from the others; there’s always internal as well as external conflict. That the franchise is a feast of attractive men also doesn’t hurt (though I’d like to see more female superheroes, too).

I find it amusing that I can discuss the relative hotness of all these superheroes with my daughters. Being writing geeks, we also like to analyze the characterization and plotting and since we are writing geeks, this doesn’t detract from the fun.

Tami Cowden, author of The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, has developed a list of romance hero archetypes (read more here). Here’s my attempt to map these superheroes to archetypes. Sometimes more than one category seemed to apply, but OK, characters are like that.

thorThor (played by Chris Hemsworth). Bold, nice to look at (such pretty muscles!), not always the brightest (so it’s good he’s paired with a scientist) but honorable. I say he’s a Swashbuckler though Chief and Warrior could also apply.

captamericaCaptain America (played by Chris Evans). Kind and decent, he could be a Best Friend but also rises to be a Chief and Warrior when necessary. Also a bit of a Lost Soul since he’s out of his original time period. I told my daughters he’s the only Avenger I would allow them to date.


The Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo). Definitely a Lost Soul but also the Professor. I love that combination!




hawkeyeHawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner). I say Warrior but would like to see more of him to be sure.


ironman1Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) It’s hard to categorize a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist”. I say Bad Boy but he also has elements of Chief, Professor, Charmer, Swashbuckler and Lost Soul.


Photo credit: Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studios?Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in THOR, from Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment.??© 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.Even though he’s technically a villain, I have to give Loki his hotness dues. My daughters are huge fans but I told them under no circumstances would I allow them to date Loki.

In the original mythology, he is often called a Trickster (a character who shakes things up but isn’t obviously evil). Marvel has made him into a villain. Using the archetypes from Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, the Marvel version of Loki has elements of Trickster, Shadow and Shape Shifter. Back to Tami Cowden’s archetypes, on the hero side he could be a Lost Soul but according to her villain archetypes he’d be the Bastard and/or the Traitor. Whatever you call him, he’s fascinating.

So to the poll. Explain/discuss in the comments!

Which Avengers superhero/supervillain do you enjoy the most?

View Results

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Cara King
Cara King
9 years ago

Yeah, but what heroic archetype is Loki? Because he’s my guy. 🙂

Charlotte Russell
9 years ago

Darn, why can’t I vote twice? Or three times. I was torn between Loki (who is just so funny and tortured at the same time) and Captain America (so upright and honorable I want to kiss him). I went with Loki and then I saw Cap didn’t have any votes. Waaahhhh!
My family loves these films too. Even my 7yo declared that Thor was her favorite “because of all his muscles.” I really can’t argue with that:-)

Isobel Carr
9 years ago

It was very hard to chose between Loki and Iron Man…but I chose Tony, because, well, HUMAN.

Lesley A.
Lesley A.
9 years ago

At first, Cap captured my heart…then I met Loki and he stole it clean away from the Captain.

Oh Loki, Loki, Loki…what was the question again?

It’s Tom Hiddleston’s wonderfully layered portrayal of the character that makes Loki stand out to me against all the other “good guys”. I think Loki is good at heart…

“Every villain is a hero in his own mind.” – Tom Hiddleston

9 years ago

Elena, I did my post today without reviewing previous posts (it was late anyway), and both of us mentioned the Heroes and Heroines book! What a cool writer zeitgeist moment! I love your analysis. And Loki is my hero. I KNOW.

9 years ago

Agent Phil Coulson.

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