The relationship between what your heroes want and the actual opportunities they discover can play out in many different ways:
- Some heroes, like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, get the opportunity they've always dreamed of: Luke always wanted to run off and become a heroic space pilot, and then that opportunity presents itself in an unexpected way.
- For other heroes, the opportunity that appears is the opposite of what they’ve always wanted. Brody in Jaws wants to prove himself as sheriff, but the opportunity to do so arrives in the form of one of his deepest fears, going into the ocean.
- For others, like Sarah Connor in The Terminator, it’s more of an ironic “be careful what you wish for” situation. She drops a bunch of dishes at work and then wonders, “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” It’s just a rhetorical question, but she gets her answer in spades.
- Sometimes, the connection between the character's want and opportunity is even more abstract. Marty McFly in Back to the Future wants to be cooler than his lame parents. Getting sent back in time isn’t something he’s always wanted to do or something he’s always been afraid of, but when he gets there, he stumbles upon a strange opportunity to solve his problem: First he comes to understand his parents better, and then he improves their lives retroactively, solving his original problem in a very roundabout yet satisfying way.
The 40 Year Old Virgin
YES. Greatest hope: get laid, greatest fear: have to hit on women. And it’s ironic that the fear leads to his hope.
YES. Ironic answer: “Whatever happened to standard procedure?” She finds out the pros and cons of standard procedure.
YES. All three, the question being “Is it really worth it to get an education?”
YES. Greatest fear: her feelings of grief must be confronted, her bad mothering gets out of control.
NO. We don’t find out a lot about his hopes/fears/questions. He’s seems to be largely emotionally unaffected by his extraordinary journey, except one moment at the exact midpoint.
YES. all three. Ironic answer: Why do there have to be people like Frank, he asks, but he’s becoming Frank.
The Bourne Identity
YES. his big question “who am I?” at first means “Who was I?”, then it become “Who do I want to be now?”
YES. Greatest fear: losing her friend. Ironic answer: she wants to get married, but has to help someone else do it.
YES. it’s his greatest hope, and an ironic answer to his question (Of all the bars in the world…)
YES. Well, his greatest suspicion, that the world is hopelessly corrupt
YES. both greatest hope (first Fed to be on track to be a made man) and greatest fear (loses family, almost gets turned)
Do the Right Thing
YES. Greatest fear and ironic answer to his question: The mayor says, “Do the right thing” and Mookie responds, “That’s it?” It turns out to be a tough question.
YES. It represents her greatest fear: That’s she’s too American for China but too Chinese for America.
YES. Greatest hope: he becomes champion and ultimately doesn’t have to give up either side of his life.
YES. Greatest hope: She finally gets to be around her sister, in a very ironic way.
YES. It’s his greatest fear: losing his wife, confronting the politics of being a doctor, etc. Also he’s afraid of being discovered as an imposter in the upper class world (worries that he’ll only look like a waiter in a tux, his wife had the real money) and then has to sink down into that world.
YES. Greatest hope: Someone finally loves him. Greatest fear: That he’ll be passively trapped inside a screen again, as he was when his mom died. (But as a photographer, he hides behind a lens, so his relationship to glass is complex.)
YES. Greatest fear and ironic answer: The first line is: “Somebody asked me today, ‘Phil, if you could be anywhere in the world, where would you want to be?’” as his hand hovers over an empty greenscreen.
How to Train Your Dragon
YES. Greatest hope: impressing dad. Greatest fear: having to fight dragons.
In a Lonely Place
YES. greatest hope: return of love and career passion, greatest fear: his anger goes out of control, ironic answer: he asks “what happens in the book?” then he lives it.
YES. Greatest fear, and ironic answer to rhetorical questions he asks about when he’d stop making weapons.
YES. Her greatest hope is to leave Sacramento and be cool.
YES. Greatest hope (have a family) and greatest fear (return to crime).
YES. Greatest fear: getting kicked out, Greatest hope: the love of Miss Cross.
YES. Greatest hope: Freedom to vote, general uprising. Greatest fear: That he will be killed and/or lose his family (which almost happens in an unexpected way)
YES. Jack’s greatest hope (time alone to write) becomes his greatest fear (hurting his family).
YES. It’s his greatest fear (losing his ex and his hopes of publication)
The Silence of the Lambs
YES. She’s been hoping for such an opportunity and living in fear of having her past revealed.
YES. Greatest hope: he finally gets his chance to go be a pilot.
YES. his greatest fear and an ironic fulfillment of his desire for a pool.