The Matrix Hero Myth Essay, Research Paper
The Matrix Hero Myth.
Hollywood is the production machine that continues to bombard America with its action-packed hero movies. The Matrix stars Keanu Reeves as a prime example of the larger than life Hollywood hero whose explosive screen acting and dumb luck turn the lead character into this hero, who tantalizes American audiences.
The storyline of the movie throws audiences immediately into the mystery behind “the matrix” from an objective person’s perspective. Neo, or Mr. Anderson as the evil Agents call him, is searching for an answer to a question he’s looked for all his life. He wants to know “what is the matrix?” Neo later learns from two new mysterious friends that the matrix is “the world pulled over your eyes.” In time, and with help from these friends Morpheus and Trinity, Neo learns the reality, or non-reality, of the matrix. He finds the truth of the world in which the human race is enslaved and is used as a power source for artificially intelligent computers, which took over the world long ago. At the prompting of Morpheus, Neo starts to wonder if he could be the one prophesied and destined to free the human race from the control of these sadistic computer programs.
To better understand the storyline and the hero, we need to know a little about the main characters in the movie, which are Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, the Agents, and Cipher. Neo, of course, is our hero of the story. He joins the war against the agents who patrol and partially control the matrix to free the world from the A.I. computers. Neo is a strong-willed young man who develops into a hardcore gun-wielding butt-kicker by the end of the movie. His language and look throughout the movie suggest just how reluctant he was in the beginning, and how all this changed by the end. His attitude in the movies opening shows him as an easily startled man who is a bit jumpy and quite cautious; his cautiousness especially shows as he first talks to the guy in the beginning to whom he is selling an illegal disk and his worry of getting caught shows through. In the end, he became the cocky hero as he dawned the black suit, sunglasses, and a set of guns. This turned him into our action hero.
Morpheus is the next character of major importance. He takes on a likeness of the well-loved Yoda from Star Wars. This is because Morpheus is the wise man who has the most experience and knows what’s going on, what needs done, and how to do it. Morpheus’ use of expert power to lead this group shows his willingness to do what’s best to benefit the others, even at the cost of his own life.
Our next character is Trinity. She is the rough and tough female who certainly doesn’t care about breaking a nail. This woman acts in such a self-sufficient and heroic manner that the audience could assume that she is the main character in the first few minutes of the movie. She talks and acts like a “tough guy” while presenting a very feminine body. The ways in which she shows her body, along with her acting, presents her as America’s tough girl, to be idled along with the hero.
The Agents are the dark forces of the A.I. computers that work against all the efforts of our hero and his little band that battle to stop them. They are dark complex characters with the ability to alter the matrix and hinder, or kill, the group of humans trying to stop them. Their unemotional faces and voices add to their dark tone and mood.
Cipher is another important character due to the fact the he was fighting for the cause of rescuing humanity, but turns traitor and gives in his friends just so he can go back to his little taste of non-reality. His evil and conniving attitudes are foreshadowed on a few occasions when some of his true personality shows through. One example would be the scene where Neo and Cipher are sitting at the computer terminals in the ship and Cipher starts prying into why Neo is there, and how he got there. His subversive techniques in his language and tone hint at a darker side, which becomes more evident later.
Linda Seger’s article “Creating the Myth” illustrates how “the journey toward heroism is a process”(309). She first wants the reader to understand that most heroes’ start out as non-heroes (309). This can be applied to our larger than life hero of Neo. Usually, non-heroes are young and have a simple life, something comfortable. Our hero in The Matrix starts out as just a normal and average Joe who goes to work at 8:00a.m. and comes home at 4:00p.m.
According to Seger, a catalyst is now introduced (310), as is done in this movie with Neo. He is contacted by Trinity who is the catalyst, which sets things in motion to bring the plot of the movie and the soon-to-be hero together. Neo is reluctant to leave his comfort zone; he can’t really accept everything because it’s all happened so fast to him. This follows the point of Seger that the hero will be reluctant (310).
Seger then states that the hero will receive help (310); it is Neo being pushed by Morpheus that helps him realize his potential, and his importance to him.
As Morpheus whups up on Neo in the martial arts sparring program, Neo realizes what he can do with the matrix and is “transformed” into the hero he needs to be to save the day. This transformation is shown by Seger to be an obstacle that must be passed so the hero can grow (310).
The major test and obstacle mentioned by Seger to be the next step in the process of getting to the level of being a mythic hero (311). Neo has to get past the obstacle of Morpheus being taken by the Agents; this is especially bad for Neo because he was told this would happen.
With the loss of Morpheus from the group, Neo feels that all is lost. This can be seen as the rock bottom as mentioned by Seger (311). Thankfully Neo hadn’t given up all hope. Now that Morpheus was in the hands of the Agents, Neo took charge of what would happen next. He planned a rescue to save Morpheus before he had to be terminated to protect the secret of the human city Zion. Seger also illustrates this assuming of leadership by the hero (311).
Nearing the end of this journey to being the larger than life, or according to Seger mythical, hero who is remembered in people’s hearts is the last obstacle and chase scene (311). After the rescue of Morpheus, and the escape of Morpheus and Trinity, Neo is trapped in a subway left alone to fight an Agent. After a battle to the death, Neo emerges triumphant, or so he thought. After the Agent returns from a run in with a subway train, Neo decides to run. His destination, the nearest exit from the matrix, his obstacle, all the Agents hell-bent on filling him with holes.
Lastly, Neo is finally surprised in a doorway and gunned down by an Agent, but following Seger’s process, Neo is reborn. Upon his rebirth he realizes his true control over the matrix and promptly halts a volley of bullets from the now dissatisfied Agents.
This is the process, which Seger believes makes a true mythic hero, The Matrix very closely parallels this concept and creates the mythical, and larger than life hero, Neo.
Another article relevant to this movie would be Kevin Jenning’s article “American Dreams.” This is based upon how the author tried to chased down the American dream and let it rule his life. He was so dead set on achieving this dream he let it get in the way of who he really was. This relates to the hero Neo in The Matrix because Neo for a time tried to deny that he really did have something besides just a bland little reality. He failed to see that he was more than what he thought he was, and after he dealt with the fact that his life had just changed radically, he aspired to be a warrior and a hero to take a stand against evil.
It is the American audience who decides whether or not a hero is just another hero or is something more. I think the American audience for The Matrix have already spoken, the money that The Matrix earned in the box office proves that. Neo has appealed to the fancies and hearts of individuals as a true larger than life hero.