Hero Characters from the Government in Monster Films
The X-Files: Fight the Future and World War Z
It is possible to say that the majority of popular monster films share a lot of similarities in the plot organization, musical score, set of protagonists, and many other aspects. They do not feature psychological dramas that are difficult to act, and the main heroes need to be cool and good-looking to make the audience believe in their ability to save the world from disaster. All these things, just like a great number of horrible monsters on the screen, are indispensable parts of the genre. Another widespread similarity in the monster movies is that there is mostly always someone heroic from the government who influences the plot. The films that are analyzed in this essay, The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) and World War Z (2013), also share this feature. Even though the role of the government is not the same there, it is personified in both cases by a mighty protagonist who is a hero.
The action in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) starts in the prehistoric age in Northern Texas, where the man is infected by the alien; this virus continues to live in the cave where they fought. The virus is a substance that has its own intellect and looks like black oil. It waits in the cave until a boy falls there in 1998 and starts developing in his body. Soon after the incident, the government sends a group of people in biohazard costumes to investigate this problem. Sometime after the outburst of the infection, the protagonists of the movie Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, who are the FBI agents, start their own investigation.
It is necessary to note that the main characteristic of this alien virus is that another alien grows in the body of the infected person, who soon dies. A human being is nothing but a place for the development of the monster. This virus can annihilate the entire human civilization. However, the government partly supports the development of this virus, and there is a secret project connected with mass infecting that is conducted by the secret government. There are some people in this secret government, who do not want to kill all the population of the Earth and provide Mulder with a vaccine.
According to The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), there is a formal government that decides nothing and a secret government that does not allow ordinary people to learn the truth. In this movie, the government can be characterized as a destructive negative power. Mulder and Scully are also representatives of the government because they work for the FBI, but they are positive characters, who want to save the world from the alien virus.
World War Z (2013) has a simpler plot than The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998). There is no intrigue in it; it is based on Gerry Lane’s quest around the world to find a vaccine against zombies. After a great number of bloody fights with the dead, Gerry understands that zombies do not see those people, who are infected with a deadly illness. That is why he decides that a vaccine created on the basis of a plague will make people invisible to zombies.
The protagonist used to work for the United Nations Organization and continues to represent the government in the movie. The government is on the side of ordinary people in the film, but all their ideas how to save the world cannot be practically fulfilled. That is why there is also a hero who has this burden of becoming the savior, just like in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998).
Both World War Z (2013) and The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) can be analyzed according to the theory of archetypes proposed by Carl Jung. First, it is necessary to define that an archetype is a subconscious pattern of behavior that is characteristic to a certain personality that was formed in ancient times and is reflected in the majority of myths and tales created by human civilization. The examples of the well-known archetypes are the one of the Great Mother, who gives birth and at the same time takes the life away or the Shadow that is the personification of all evil thoughts and powers of the human being he/she wants to hide in the subconsciousness.
The Hero is also one of the central archetypes in the theory proposed by Jung. In the case of both movies taken for the analysis, the Hero is presented in a quite traditional way. Gerry Lane is a professional, who quitted working for the United Nations some time ago, because he had problems. There is no information in the World War Z (2013) about his reasons to quit the job though he was not developing by the time of the beginning of the story, spending time with his family. The Hero cannot live without overcoming great problems; that is why Gerry Lane has to go through initiation in the movie. He needs to deal with monsters and other serious problems on his way and get the desired prize, which is a vaccine against the zombies in this case.
Mulder in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) is also a typical Hero, who has to pass the initiation in the course of the story. The X-files unit was the major work of Mulder and his sense of life was closed in the beginning of the story, so the protagonist was struggling without work. He was in professional stagnation, and the events connected with alien virus became a possibility for him to regain interest in life and overcome his weakness. Just like Gerry Lane in the World War Z (2013), Mulder has to deal with numerous difficulties on his way to the prize that is the freedom for his beloved woman and the entire human civilization.
It is also necessary to note that there are other archetypal protagonists in both movies. They can be called the Damsels in Distress. In World War Z (2013), Gerry Lane needs to overcome all the disasters to save the lives of his family that consists of his wife and two daughters. They are the reason for the Hero to move on; in the end, they become his prize for the victory. In the last scenes of the movie, Gerry comes to the reservation where his family lives, and they all embrace each other.
Scully is the Damsel in Distress for agent Mulder in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998). According to the scenario, she is occasionally infected by the bee, which has the alien virus. People who work for the secret government take Scully away to make experiments on her, and it becomes another important reason for Mulder to work harder and search for a way out. The last scenes in the movie, where Scully and Mulder are shown, portray them together on the iceberg embracing each other.
It is possible to describe the steps the Heroes in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) and the World War Z (2013) take according to the classical mythological structure. In the beginning, the Hero is shown in the ordinary world, living a normal life of an average citizen. Gerry Lane is dining with his family, and Mulder is searching for a bomb in a building, which is not his specialization. Then a collapse appears, and it becomes a call for starting the initiation. Gerry Lane becomes a witness of a zombie attack and has to save his family somehow. Mulder and Scully are accused in the explosion of the bomb. The refusal to participate in the adventure is also an indispensable part of the traditional plot. Gerry does not want to go to the South Korea, because he quitted working for the government long time ago. Mulder considers the theory about the unknown alien virus not serious at first.
Then, the Hero needs to meet someone, who can be called the Teacher. It can be the old friend of his father as it is in the example with Mulder, or it can be a boss from the previous workplace as it is in the case of Geerye Lane. After numerous tests where the Heroes need to show their courage, skills and intellectual abilities, they both come to the most difficult task that is the culmination of the movies. Gerry Lane manages to survive with the help of the injection of the deadly infection and go through the crowd of zombies. Mulder saves Scully and destroys the spaceship on the North Pole. In the end, both Heroes receive their rewards, occasionally saving mankind.
Agent Mulder in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) and Gerry Lane in the World War Z (2013) are the representatives of the government. They personify the order of the system that has to protect ordinary people from chaos and is personified in the movies by zombies and alien viruses. This is a traditional controversy that needs to be present in a classical heroic story, where the good wins the evil. The Heroes, or the protagonists of the both films, are created according to the classical structure present even in the mythology of different cultures. Agent Mulder in The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998) and Gerry Lane in the World War Z (2013) go through the traditional steps of initiation of the heroes, and the fact that they work for the government is just another detail that underlines their high status and gives the audience the hope that the world will finally be saved.