Ideas

Your all-purpose guide to epic movies

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiered Monday night in Hollywood. The movie releases in US theaters on Friday.
Film Frame/Disney/Lucasfilm via AP
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiered Monday night in Hollywood. The movie releases in US theaters on Friday.

As you may have heard, there is a lot of excitement for the latest installment of an epic movie series where a reluctant hero is guided by a wise sage through a dangerous magical world where he eventually confronts a villain of unknowable power. And, of course, there’s a comic sidekick and traitorous schemers along the way.

That would be “Star Wars,” of course. Or is it “Harry Potter”? “The Lord of the Rings”?

If you ever get the feeling you’re seeing the same movie over and over — well, history agrees with you. In 1949, the writer Joseph Campbell boiled centuries of human fairy tales and quest myths down to an essential list of archetypal characters. Today, his book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” reads eerily like a plot guide to the great cult-favorite movie franchises of our time, from the elaborate world of “Star Wars” to . . . um, Pixar cartoons. Don’t believe it? Just check the chart.

Patrick Garvin is not a Jedi, but rather an infographics artist at the Globe. He can be reached at patrick.garvin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickMGarvin.

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