I’ve heard people comment that Avatar is just the same as Pocahantas. I would agree. There is a strong archetypal core of a hybrid Hero and a Virgin in this movie, just like Pocahantas and Mulan and Spiderman and Smallville have. That’s what makes this film so compelling!
Here is a summary of Avatar with the Virgin beats highlighted. WARNING: IT INCLUDES SPOILERS . I’ll leave it to film buffs to go through and pull out the Hero beats. You’ll see there are two drives woven into the movie. The desire to bring his true nature to life, as seen in his dream of flying (Virgin) and the drive to selflessly save his village (Hero).
Here we go…
When Jake’s twin brother dies Jake is offer the chance to replace him as an Avatar where his essence can be placed in a Na’vi body (3). Jake Sully is a parapalegic marine who arrives on the planet Pandora where he depends on Colonel Quaritch to be able to find a place for himself as a military man and have the operation that will return the use of his legs (1). Quaritch wants Jake to use his position to gather information on the Na’vi that will help remove them from a rich deposit of unobtainium (2). On his first mission Jake is separated from his group, saved by Neytiri, a beautiful Na’vi woman, and invited to live among the Na’vi including dress like them (4). Jake moves back and forth from the world of the Nav’ri, learing to understand a deep connection with nature and how to live in harmony with it, to the world of the mining company where he reports the inner working of the Na’vi to their enemy (5). Dr. Grace discovers Jake is reporting to Quaritch and moves the team to a remote location (7). As an Avatar, Jake learns to connect with a dragon-like creative and flies (5). Gradually he is turned upside down as the life he leads as an Avatar is the most meaningful to him (6). After joining for life with Neytiri, the bulldozers move in destroying the sacred tree they are sleeping under. Jake instictively disables the machine revealing to Colonel Quaritch that he is no longer a team player (7). Jake tries to convince the Na’vi to move and alientaes his new wife Neytiri (10). The mining company burns and bombs the hometree and the Nav’i flee for thier lives as Jake and Dr. Grace are tied to stakes (10). Neytiri’s mother cuts them loose and implores Jake Sully to help them (12). Quaritch shuts down Jake and Grace’s Avatar forms and places them in prison (10). Helicopter pilot, Trudy, and the scientists help them escape and transport them to a remote loction where they can safely become Avatars again (12). Jake decides he will fly the great dragon and go to the Na’vi and offer to use his power to fight the mining company (11). Jake becomes one of the Na’ve and humans learn to value nature or be sent back to their dying planet (13).