The Temptress Archetype

I wrote about “The Lover” archetype in June/July, but there is another type of lover who often pops up along the hero’s journey . . . one who is not nearly as wholesome or helpful.

The Temptress character does exactly what you’d expect: she tempts the hero to do something he should not (sorry for my sexist pronouns—you can reverse them if you wish). She is an obstacle he must avoid—he must “just say NO” and continue on his quest.

This does not have to be about lust or a temptation simply to abandon the quest for something (or someone) else. The Temptress could be a person presenting a differing opinion and offering advice. If this advice is bad, then the character is a distraction/obstacle; if the hero shouldn’t listen, then the person giving the bad advice serves as a kind of Temptress. This character may actually be on the hero’s side—also hoping for the best and honestly believing that what he/she proposes is the right answer.

Perhaps the most interesting temptations are more philosophical. That is to say “the Temptress” is not a person at all, but rather, a “dark call.” Consider those heroes who walk a fine line between good and bad: they want to remain true and good and yet it would be so easy to cross the line and seek revenge. The dark side is tempting because it is easy and it feeds on selfishness. The reason this type of temptress is so common, of course, is that we can all relate to selfish desires and we know that they can be destructive in the long run.

Lets look at some Temptresses in my usual stories:

  • In Major League, Dorn’s wife becomes a temptress when she sleeps with Vaughn (who didn’t know she was Dorn’s wife). Vaughn got played, but he also gave in to his temptation and it cost him. Dorn’s wife uses Vaughn’s weakness (women) against him and thereby gets revenge on her cheating husband, but in doing so, she serves as a distraction for two of the team’s best players right before a critical game.
  • Harry Potter has a few girlfriends in the series before realizing who is “one true love is” and I’m not sure any of the other girlfriends could be considered temptresses as they are all “good” and fight on his side. Now, Ron Weasley, on the other hand, is often distracted by other girls and therefore doesn’t recognize Hermione until late in the series (after Emma Watson grows up and then . . . Wow). So we could argue that Ron is tempted by all kinds of things. Of course, the real temptation in the series is for Harry to either give up or give in to his darker side and seek vengeance. In order to stay true to himself, Harry must resist these temptations.
  • Although the boys in Stand By Me second guess themselves and consider turning back, no one intrudes on their quest until the bullies toward the end—so any Temptress they faced would be some sort of internal one. Could “doubt” counts as a Temptress?
  • I suppose you could look at Michael’s Italian wife (Apollonia) in The Godfather as his Temptress since she “distracts him” from his true love (Kay), though I don’t. First of all, I’d like to think that Michael was truly in love with Apollonia. Even if he wasn’t, the problems he has with Kay upon his return to the states have nothing to do with Apollonia (who dies before Michael’s return). The problems come from Michael’s negative transformation. Michael’s brother Sonny has an affair, and while it hurts his wife, this is not a major point in the story (much more on this in the novel, by the way!).
  • In the film version of Lord of the Rings, Eowyn is (sort of) a temptress for Aragorn, but obviously, in this story the real Temptress is the ring itself! Frodo must resist the ring’s call or else all is doomed!
  • While Batman/Bruce Wayne has had many lovers and temptresses over the years, the one that stands out in both the comics and in The Dark Knight Trilogy is Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul (one of Batman’s greatest foes and the master villain in Batman Begins). Talia shows up in the 3rd film, tricks Bruce into trusting her and even loving her, only to literally stab him in the back.
  • There aren’t enough women in Star Wars. Abrams? Help us out. Okay, so it is interesting to look at Anakin and Padme’s relationship as “Anakin’s evil temptation that leads to his downfall and so much misery” …but the heroes Luke and Leia are born from that temptation and it isn’t Padme’s fault Anakin is terrible. Anakin is the bad guy. Not her. The real temptress in Star Wars (and Harry Potter + Lord of the Rings) isn’t a person, but rather a thing or idea . . . the dark side of the self. In all three of these series, the main characters must resist “the dark side” which will lead to their ultimate doom.
  • James Bond movies are filled with Temptresses. Bond is, let’s face it, a ladies man who is easily distracted by beautiful women. Some of these women are “lovers” in that they help and aid him in his quest, but just as often, they stab him in the back and try to get in his way.

Star Wars VS Star Trek in the Age of Abrams

Since there is a new Star Trek film coming out this weekend and since the director (J.J. Abrams) is also taking over the Star Wars franchise, I think it is appropriate to look at his first Star Trek film “through the lens of Star Wars.”

The following is a point-by-point comparison of the original Star Wars movie (1977) and Abrams’ Star Trek film of 2009. As you can see, J.J. basically said, “We’re going to turn Star Trek into Star Wars.”


Similarities between Star Wars (1977) and Star Trek (2009):

  • Starts with Big Ship bullying a smaller (underdog) ship.
  • Goes to a farm boy (early twenties) = (Luke Skywalker/Jim Kirk).
  • Farm boy meets allies in a bar. There is a bar fight. Shortly after this, the hero leaves his home planet for 1st time.
  • The hero finds a mentor who knew his dad and who becomes a kind of father-figure. This mentor asks the farm boy to “join him” and become like the boy’s own father.
  • Farm boy is a rookie but has a lot of potential.
  • Story is about chance, choice, and destiny.
  • Though events seem random, there is evidence that fate/providence is playing a role and guiding these events because the characters seem destined to meet (Droids to Luke and then Ben in Star Wars VS Kirk to Old Spock and then Scotty in Star Trek).
  • Most aspects of the Hero’s journey are present.
  • Farm boy/rookie and the Secondary hero (Han Solo/Spock) do not get along that well but become friends by the end of the film.
  • Bad guys have a weapon capable of destroying a planet.
  • One character is made to watch as his/her home planet is destroyed (Leia/Spock).
  • Bad guy “killed” the farm boy/rookie’s father.
  • Farm boy enters the big bad ship on a rescue mission. He succeeds and saves the prisoner (Princess Leia/ Captain Pike).
  • Just as a “good guy ship” is about to be destroyed by the bad guys, another “good guy ship” appears in time to save the first.
  • The last battle ends when the good guys destroy the big bad ship.
  • Rookie proves himself.
  • Ends with an award ceremony.

Oh my Lucas! Star Wars sold to Disney! Episode VII in 2015!

This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of George Lucas owning Star Wars and marks a new beginning (without a reboot) for the franchise.

I don’t know what to think or feel. Considering Disney has done so well after acquiring Pixar and Marvel, I’m hopeful . . . but Episodes I – III taught me not to go overboard with that New Hope.

Episode VII comes out in 2015? That’s just three years from now! What is the story? Will they stick to the continuity established in the Star Wars novels or not? When is it set? –I’m assuming it is still “A long, long time ago,” but how long after the events of Return of the Jedi? Will we see Luke, Leia, and Han? Will they be recast? Who will write it?

How much influence does Lucas still have? — With respect to the man who created this wonderful universe, I’d love to get some new voices in the drawing room. Disney has a wonderful set of writers on staff.

Who will direct? — Joss Whedon is an obvious choice but he’s doing Avengers 2 in 2015. Christopher Nolan is too dark. Spielberg has gravitas with the older fans, but does he with kids? Who else?

I can’t take it! I won’t sleep for a week!