Mythology · Writing

The Hero’s Journey: Ordinary World

At the start of the Hero’s Journey we meet the hero in their Ordinary World. This is where he usually is from day to day, pootling about, doing whatever it is that he does. It should contrast with the world he’s about to enter on his hero’s journey, the world of the story.

The Ordinary World is the background or context for the hero. It tells us what we need to know about him: who is he (or she)? What are his character flaws? Is there trouble brewing? And so on.

The seeds of the coming story can usually been found here. The hero has a problem or conflict that needs to be resolved. In order to do that, he must embark on his journey. He just needs a little push. That will come in the next stage with the Call to Adventure, but in the meantime, let’s look at Thor’s Ordinary World.

Thor in Asgard
Thor in Asgard

Thor: Ordinary World

Thor’s Ordinary World is Asgard where he is set to become king, taking over from his father, Odin. But this isn’t where the film begins.

The film starts with a flash forward to the Crossing of the Threshold moment when Thor crashes to Earth. First we meet Jane Foster, an astrophysicist, and her friends/colleagues Erik Selvig and Darcy. They are studying a magnetic storm which, to their surprise, delivers Thor to Earth.

We then flash back to Norway 965 A.D. and the introduction of the mythology of the Nine Realms, and the Frost Giants, sworn enemies of just about everyone. The gods of Asgard protected humanity, driving the Frost Giants back to their world, Jotunheim. Odin explains to the young Thor and his brother Loki, how he took the source of their power, a glowing blue casket, and made a truce. He tells them, “A wise king never seeks out war but he must always be ready for it.”

Only now do we meet the grown up Thor in his Ordinary World, preparing to be made king in a lavish ceremony. He is cocky, arrogant, enjoying himself a little too much, but charming. It is obvious he is still a boy at heart; well-loved and popular, but oblivious to the journey ahead. Thor is ripe for a Call to Adventure…

Next: Thor receives his Call to Adventure