The Hero’s Journey: From the Couch to the Kitchen

The hero with a thousand faces is you, making instant noodles in the kitchen while X-Men: Dark Phoenix is on in the background.

The concept of the “Hero’s Journey” as made popular by Joseph Campbell has been applied to everything from The Matrix to cat food commercials. Yet all of these epic tales of heroes overcoming adversity pale in comparison to the Hero of the Moment. I am referring to you, Quarantined Reader, and your arduous journey from your couch to the kitchen….and back.

The Call to Adventure

The rumblings of desire can be felt in your stomach. At this point, all you know is that your life is lacking something: something that your current existence of lying supine watching X-Men: Dark Phoenix (conveniently available on HBO because you can’t muster the strength to watch anything else) can’t provide.

Refusal of the Call

You tell yourself that this feeling will go away. You have your doubts, but before you can act on them, Jean Grey hesitates to get on the X-Jet for a mission into SPACE. X-Men in space? This is the innovation that these movies sorely needed! You press on.

Supernatural Aid

When the X-Men arrive in space, they find…a blob of alien energy. For reasons that don’t make sense now, and won’t make sense later, the energy surges into Jean Grey. Disinterest in this movie begins to set in, and your thoughts return to the twinges in your stomach. What is that feeling? Are you, too, the recipient of mysterious energy? Then it hits you: hunger.

The Crossing of the First Threshold

The mutants have a dance party in the woods for some reason, and you decide this is a good time to muster the courage to leave the couch and head to the kitchen. Your foot hits the cold floor and you immediately regret it, but you’ve come this far. It’s time to press on. You shed the blanket, stand erect, and see the kitchen in the distance, 30 feet down the hall.

The Belly of the Whale

Jean Grey finds her father still living in her childhood home, which is the obvious place you’d keep someone hidden from a powerful psychic whose buried past trauma is the only thing standing between her peaceful existence and intense pain and suffering for everyone around her. And speaking of intense pain and suffering, because you haven’t left your couch in hours, your legs cramp up and your curl into the fetal position on your living room floor.

The Road of Trials

While laying supine on the floor, your eyes return to the screen. Jean Grey has come to Genosha to seek Magneto’s help, but the US Military has followed her there, and she’s laying waste to helicopters. Magneto has that constipated look on his face. Your face takes on the same expression as you muster the strength to get back on your two feet.

The Meeting with the Goddess

A freaky shape-shifting alien played by a monotone Jessica Chastain informs Jean Grey that the energy within her wiped out her people, and that she now wants it for herself. Meanwhile, your wife/mother/female roommate gives you a withering look of scorn. She wants to watch Tiger King and you’re hogging the TV with…this?

Temptation from the true path

Tiger King? That show sounds…bonkers. Better than this mediocre fare. You pull out your phone to watch the trailer and…wow.

Meanwhile the mutants are battling each other in New York over whether to save or kill Jean Grey. You’re picking up the remote to switch over to Tiger King, but then you see Jean cruelly drag Charles’s limp body up the stars using her psychic powers. That’s horrific, but interesting enough to get you to keep watching. You contemplate the twelve X-Men movies over nineteen years and decide you want to see how this all wraps up.

Atonement with the Father

Jean forgives Charles for screwing with his mind. This inspires you to make peace with your dad for opposing your move to the big city from the suburbs. If only he could see you now, enduring WFH life and wearing a mask while standing in line for groceries! He’d be so proud!


Jean now has control of her powers, and so do you! Step by step, you enter your cramped kitchen under your own power and stand face to face with the pantry doors. You pay $4,000 per month for this shoebox-sized one-bedroom apartment, and it’s totally worth it because you have a standalone kitchen with enough storage space for…

The Ultimate Boon

…Boxes on boxes of instant noodles. You ravenously tear open the packet and sprinkle MSG into the concoction of noodles, water, and dehydrated “vegetables.” In the other room you hear gunshots, screaming, and twisting metal. The evil aliens are presumably getting theirs, but it’s hard to care too much. Isn’t this basically the same story as Captain Marvel?

Refusal of the Return

You peek out of the kitchen to see what’s going on in the movie. They’re in a train yard, and stuff is blowing up? This doesn’t seem that interesting. But you’ve seen enough superhero movies to recognize a CGI-energy-infused climax from a mile away. This is it for our heroes. Time to get back to the couch.

The Magic Flight

As Jean Grey siphons power out of the alien and rockets into space to kill her (I’m not making this up, this is what happens in to the movie), you slowly make your way back to the couch cradling a hot bowl of instant noodles, that you expertly garnished with a slice of American cheese. This, you realize to yourself, is your mutant power: the ability to elevate trash food with other, even trashier foods.

Rescue from Without

HBO Go freezes due to bandwidth overload. The image pauses awkwardly on Cyclops’s face, his mouth agape and goggle staring blankly into the sky. You now have enough time to eat your noodles without burning the insides of your mouth.

The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Charles has retired early–what on earth is he going to do with all this free time and no mutants to manipulate? You can relate; you too have a lot of time on your hands, you think to yourself as you return to the supine position on your sofa, its softness embracing you like an old friend who just wants to play chess with you after years of quarreling.

Master of Two Worlds

Jean/Phoenix isn’t really dead! She flies overhead, her mystical spirit watching over the mutants as they begin the awkward transition to Disney’s ownership and eventual integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You wonder how they’ll pull that off as you cradle the bowl of noodles in your lap on the couch. But you don’t give that too much thought; you are content as the master of two worlds: the living room and the kitchen. Like a phoenix, you have died in the ashes of hunger and have been reborn.

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