Sunday, 27 September 2015

Wreck It Ralph (2012) - A Hero's Journey

Figure 1. Wreck It Ralph Poster 

Wreck it Ralph is a Hero’s Journey film in which we follow an unlikely hero. Ralph, the villain of his video game seeks respect and a happier life. Ralph lives in the dump away from the rest of the characters in his video game, feels isolated and is obviously tired of being the bad guy. We find this information out when Ralph is sharing his story with other video game villains, it’s clear here that he wouldn’t mind being the good guy. Ralph receives his call to adventure during the celebration of the games 30th anniversary when he accidentally interrupts the party for his game. The characters within his game are wary of him and are convinced that he’s completely a bad guy however Ralph learns that if he could get a medal then he could prove that he’s a good guy. The refusal of the call happens however when there is doubt he can obtain the medal. Ralph leaves his game and seeks help from Tapper at Tappers bar. It could be suggested that Tapper is Ralph’s supernatural aid or mentor as here he begins searching for a way to obtain a medal. While searching however he comes across a soldier from the game Hero’s duty. Ralph learns that completing the game results in being given a medal and obtains the soldiers armour to then be able to cross the threshold into the game Hero’s duty.

It could also be suggested that the bad guys at the start of the film are Ralph’s mentors. The bad guys teach Ralph an important lesson, one villain saying that “Just because you’re a Bad Guy doesn’t mean that you’re… bad guy?” Here Ralph learns, though he doesn’t know it, that just because he is supposed to be the villain of his game and looks threatening doesn’t mean that he can’t be a hero. As mentioned by Keyes in his article Ralph is “an ideal main character; he epitomizes the notion that looks can be deceiving.” (Keyes, 2014). Ralph’s look are indeed deceiving, as shown in figure 2 Ralph is a large and intimidating person. He wears red a connotation of being dangerous and his square-like shape tells us that he is strong. Though he looks messy and angry we are later shown that Ralph is kind and that his strength can be used for good.

Figure 2. Ralph still

It’s obvious that Ralph is not used to being a hero. As mentioned by Catherine Bray in her review “he decides to strike out for pastures new, in doing so unwittingly unleashing a force that threatens the existence of not only his own game, but all the others in the arcade.” (Bray, 2013). Bray is referring to Ralph’s time in Hero’s duty, it is here where Ralph is truly in the Belly of the Whale. Ralph doesn’t understand anything outside of his own game and because of this he unknowingly releases the Cy-Bugs from Hero’s duty into other games. Hero’s Duty could also be considered one of the many trials on the road of trials that Ralph will face. In Hero’s duty Ralph obtains the medal that he has been searching to find, unfortunately he accidentally activates an escape pod and he ends up in another game called Sugar Rush. During his time in Sugar Rush Ralph meets his goddess represented by Vanellope. Vanellope is a glitch in the game meaning that she is also outcast like Ralph, she steals Ralph’s medal and uses it for a chance to race and to become part of the games racers. The medal is Ralph’s temptress, he needs it to be respected however it also controls the way he acts. Ralph wants to get the medal back and therefore participates in trials to help Vanellope win the race and therefore obtain his medal. During this time Ralph becomes Vanellope’s trainer and almost becomes like a father figure to her. As you can see in figure 3, he helps her makes her own go kart and teaches her how to drive it in the cola mountain that she lives in. This is the stage known as atonement with the father.

 Figure 3. Ralph and Vanellope 

During his time mentoring Vanellope Ralph runs into King Candy who gives Ralph his medal back in exchange for telling Vanellope that it’s dangerous to race because of her glitch. Ralph believes that he is doing the right thing and tells Vanellope she can’t race which upsets her. This is the Apotheosis, Ralph has put his medal above Vanellope who he had bonded with. He then proceeds to wreck her cart. Believing that she is safe and after receiving the ultimate boon, his medal, Ralph returns to his game. He is given a refusal to return, with the other members of his game fleeing in panic over him not being there the game can no longer go on, therefore he is again alone and not considered a hero.

During his time alone in his game he notices Vanellope on the side of her game box, knowing that something is wrong he confronts King Candy and the earlier problem of the Cy-Bugs. This confrontation is the Magic Flight. During this confrontation he receives Rescue from Without when the cola mountain reacts and explodes. With confrontation over, Ralph is able to cross the return threshold with the other characters from his game. Being the master of two worlds he invites other characters from games that were shutdown to appear in the bonus level of their game. Even without his medal he realises that now he has the freedom to live. When he sees Vanellope happy and being played in her game he comments saying “if that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?” Ralph has come to the conclusion that he’s not a bad guy fully. This is a pleasant way to end and shows the moral that it’s not looks that determine the person that you are.

A Hero’s Journey Summary

1. The Call to Adventure – During the 30th Anniversary party Ralph learns that obtaining a medal would mean that he would be respected.  
2. Refusal of the Call – There is doubt that a medal can be obtained by him, he shouldn’t also “Go Turbo”.
3. Supernatural Aid – The bad guys give him advice/ Tapper helps him try and find a medal.
4. Crossing the Threshold – Ralph steals the soldiers armour and enters Hero’s Duty.
5. Belly of the Whale – Ralph's time in Hero’s Duty.  

6. The Road of Trials – Obtaining the medal in hero’s duty, helping scare off the people who bully Vanellope, Building a cart, teaching Vanellope how to drive
7. The Meeting with the Goddess – Meeting Vanellope.
8. Woman as Temptress – Medal.
9. Atonement with the Father – Ralph becomes Vanellope’s mentor.
10.Apotheosis – Medal is godlike.
11.The Ultimate Boon – Receiving the medal, the thing that he has been looking for.
12.Refusal of the Return – Ralph notices Vanellope on the game box, he decides to save her.

13.The Magic Flight – Ralph faces King Candy and the Cy-Bugs
14.Rescue from Without – Ralph is rescued by the cola mountain.
15.The Crossing of the Return Threshold – Ralph crosses back into his own game.
16.Master of Two Worlds – He invites other characters to join his games bonus level.
17.Freedom to Live – He is happier knowing that Vanellope doesn’t think he’s a bad guy.

Bray, C (2013) (Accessed 26/09/15)

Illustration list
Moore, R (2012) Figure 1. Wreck It Ralph Poster (Accessed 26/09/15)
Moore, R (2012) Figure 2. Ralph still (Accessed 26/09/15)

Moore, R (2012) Figure 3. Ralph and Vanellope (Accessed 26/09/15)


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