A major theme in the entertainment industry is coming of age or “adulting.” The big hit movies such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars follow the adulting process as shown in Campbell’s hero’s journey, the journey that an adolescent or an ignorant must go through to become an adult or hero. Specifically, The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott and staring Matt Damon, follows the story of how Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars and must be resilient in his many days of independence in a foreign land, causing him to come of age or “adult.”
The individual truly becomes an adult when he must begin to apply his knowledge to his own personal life; the individual becomes an adult when he doesn’t have to rely on anyone else to be taken care of. The martian, mistakenly stranded on Mars, wakes up and realizes that he is on his own; he must care for himself in a most vital situation. The situation that Mark wakes up to is like a high school student stepping out into the college life for the first time. In the same way, Mark literally moved out and must live on his own with nothing but his own knowledge and a bit of technology. He is forced into the test of adult hood: can he care for himself?
One of the most important steps in reaching this adult stage of life is the learning that contributes to allowing the individual to make his own decisions. Mark, back on earth, become a botanist, later providing the expertise knowledge that now allows Mark to get food from a human waste farm and to stay alive on Mars. As well, through training, Mark learned to become resilient so that he may take on any future challenge. It is this resilience that he has gained before going out on his own that allows him to stay sane and work through the new challenges that come with adulting.
Every adult must cross a major threshold in life, and to Mark Watley, this threshold is being stranded and surviving on Mars. Only through resilience and knowledge learned during adolescent years can one, as shown in The Martian, become an adult.