Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Term Paper


School of Unrestricted Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Grace Veach


Storytelling is incredibly important in the everyday lives of humans. Over the course of history, the methods of storytelling have advanced much in the same way society has advanced. However, the constant components of a good story and classic literature have never changed: enticing plots, courageous heroes, and narrative beauty. One of the most popular, modern methods for storytelling for both young and old alike is the animated motion picture. The Kung Fu Panda movies are a series of animated children’s movies created by Dreamworks Animation studios that have witnessed great success in box offices worldwide. However, the journey of Po, the unlikely kung fu master in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, is not a story commonly associated with classical, timeless literature. This paper discusses whether the Kung Fu Panda movies can be considered a modern, animated interpretation of a story with a classic foundation. The discussion considers several aspects of the story. The first consists of a comparison of Po’s journey as a hero to the traditional steps identified by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. The second consists of an analysis of the plot and emotional story arcs. The last aspect explored is the symbolism and depiction of the Asian martial art culture. The paper concludes the Kung Fu Panda movies demonstrate classic storytelling through Po’s traditional journey as a hero, the consistent and cohesive adherence to plot structure and familiar story arcs and beautiful depictions of Asian martial art culture and symbolism.