Can Toys Be Hero’s Too?

by Janiyah Gedeon


  “Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary” is a quote about Heroism by Gerard Way. Its meaning is as heroes can be ordinary, selfless people with big goals and ideas. Throughout the Family/Comedy movie, Toy Story 3, produced by Lee Unkrich & Pixar, a hero who fits the quote’s ideals is Woody, the movie’s protagonist. Woody experiences the typical hardships and issues in a Hero’s Journey, such as villains and brutal battles. Woody goes through the Hero’s Journey and showcases the true meaning of what a hero is.

 Woody is a dynamic character who progresses throughout the film series. Woody starts as one of Andy’s (his owner’s) favorite toys whom Andy has owned since kindergarten. He is portrayed as the leader of Andy’s collection of toys, keeping them out of trouble and safe. For example, the primary and common goal the toys share is wanting to be played with and loved. During the first 12 minutes of the movie, one can see that the toys devise a plan to fulfill their goal of being played with by now 17-year-old Andy. When it does not work out, Woody calms them down, talks to them, and brings them back to the reality that Andy would get older and not want to play with little toys anymore. This scene showcases Woody’s natural-born leadership skills and heroic character that is the beginning of the Hero’s journey. 

 Throughout the movie, Woody has many allies and a few villains/obstacles he must overcome, like any hero. Woody’s most obvious companion is Buzz lightyear, a newer toy never played with before by Andy. Although, at first, they would compete for Andy’s love, affection, and favoritism. This competitiveness to be better than one another in the beginning also sparks a drive and determination in the two to lead the toys and take care of them. After all, Woody becomes a hero with Buzz and the other boys at his side to help him. Unlike other heroes, Woody works as a team, not independently. Now that Woody has a team behind him, they must overcome the villain, Lotso the Bear, in Toy Story 3. Lotso is a typical villain who begins with the facade of the “good guy” who loves all but then shifts into the antagonist in the movie. He is a troubled and abandoned toy whose built-up anger projects onto the toys he keeps hostage, almost like a prison. Woody and the toys must outsmart him and escape the Daycare to get back home where they are supposed to be. It may be a little difficult but, with Buzz and the toys’ help, Woody can face and overcome Lotso like a true hero. 

 In comparison to any other Hero’s journey, Woody has a love interest. The unique characteristic of his love interest, Bo Peep, is instead of distracting him from his goals and missions, she motivates him. For example, in Toy Story 4, Bo Peep clams and stops Woody from making an irrational decision of choosing the river Andy, his owner. She explains that he needs to do what is best for Andy instead of worrying about her. The inference I can draw from this scene is that Bo Peep, instead of hindering or distracting, serves as a fellow ally or foundation for Woody’s actions. Her selflessness allows her to put Woody and what she knows is right before her personal needs and desires of being with Woody. She lets him thrive and be the Hero she knows he can be. 

 Throughout the typical Hero’s journey, the Hero may need a wise person along the way. This intelligent person, in Woody’s case, is Jessie, one of Andy’s toys. Jessie is intelligent, decisive, persevering, and passionate. In one scene, in Toy Story 3, she explains to Woody that instead of waiting for weeks for Andy to play with them again, they need to move on to the next kid and get over their failures to get Andy’s attention again. Like Woody, she wants what is best for all the toys, even if it is not necessarily what she wants. Her actions and words emphasize that Jessie is a wise and clear-sighted thinker regarding Woody and his hardships. 

 There is a climax or final battle in every movie or even every Hero’s Journey, which leads to the journey home. Woody’s final match occurs in the final scenes of Toy Story 3, where the toys and he face the incinerator (garbage burner). The toys come together in the movie’s last few stages to escape the incinerator once they are out of Sunnyside Daycare. Having to face this makes it their most challenging adversaries by far. Since he does not have that long to come up with a plan before they burn, although it is not Woody who comes up with the plan exactly, it is luck that the alien toys were at the claw. He showed leadership and bravery throughout this scene. From the garbage location Woody, using his awareness and quick thinking, notices the garbage truck that always passes by Andy’s house and gets back on it to get back home. Woody returns home where he and the toys are safe and sound, which was Woody’s main goal from the start. Only a true hero would be able to go through this journey, achieve his goal, and save the people he loves, which Woody does. 


 Throughout the family/comedy film Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich, Woody is a hero who embodies the quote’s morals, “Heroes are ordinary people who make themselves extraordinary” by Gerard Way. Woody goes on the Hero’s Path and demonstrates what a real hero is. From the start, Woody was born to be a hero with qualities like strong-willed, driven, and determined. Unlike the typical Hero, he does need his other toys, like Buzz, to make decisions since they work as a team. Toys like Bo Peep, his love interest, and Jessie, the wise one, also serve as foundations and great allies to Woody along the way. To conclude, Woody, the protagonist in Toy Story 3 by Lee Unkrich, experiences the Hero’s Journey throughout the film.