Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Character archetypes in "The Martian"


"The Martian" (2015) is Ridley Scott's latest movie. At a first glance the characters are not very well defined with only one archetype, most of them are more of a mixture of two or more.

Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is the main character (the Hero) and is facing harsh trials on a lonely planet with seemingly no hope of escape. The rest of the crew members are forced to leave the hero, thinking that he is dead. Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) is the head of NASA in the film, and he is the Shadow archetype, but less in a negative sense and more as the person that needs to make the hard decisions, considering the reputation of NASA. Teddy Sanders is also a shapeshifter as he forces almost impossible deadlines on crew members so that a mission to save Mark Watney happens faster.

The mentor in this case is Venkat Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejifor) as he does his best to connect to the main character and guide him in the harsh Martian environment. As the Threshold Guardian I couldn't really focus on a character, but rather the whole planet is testing Mark Watney with challenges like lack of oxygen, water and food supplies, sub-zero temperatures and many more. The Father figure or the Herald is Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean). He earns this by going against NASA and sending instructions in space to the same crew that left Mark Watney on Mars, with instructions and a plan on how to reach and possibly save him. 

The crew as a whole can be seen as the allies but separating it to individuals can bring out more archetypes. The crew captain for instance - Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) is a shapeshifter as she starts out as quite stern and decisive when everyone considered Mark Watney as dead it was her order to leave the planet, however she quickly turns out to be caring (the Jungian mother) and eventually rescues M. Watney.

Two characters can be considered tricksters, but they are also professionals in their field and the story relies heavily on their decisions. Rich Purnell (Donald Grover) and Rick Martines (Michael Pena) both work for NASA and the latter is also another crew member.

The archetypes I could not identify with certainty were mainly the child and the maiden. In any case it could be considered that Mark Watney was very innocent in a sense when faced with the realities of the alien planet. As for the maiden, there wasn't a particular female character that suggested any romantic interest.

In conclusion, I would like to apologise for any spoilers, the film is worth watching, Matt Damon does an excellent job and the costume design is exceptional. Also fan art:


  1. I'm going to put off reading your review until I've seen this movie Vlad - Its on my to do list over the next couple of weeks. I'll pop back for a read asap.

  2. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did :)