The hero of any movie never succeeds based on his or her own desires. Instead, there’s always an outside motivation to push forward and succeed.
Every hero begins with a character flaw or some kind. Throughout the movie, the hero succeeds to the midpoint where he or she achieves a False Victory. In “Star Wars,” that False Victory is when Luke finally rescues Princess Leia. In “Die Hard,” it’s when Bruce Willis finally gets the attention of the police.
The False Victory seems to solve the hero’s problem, but really doesn’t. After this False Victory, the hero starts fighting on the defensive until the end of Act II where the villain is apparently victorious and the hero appears defeated.
At this moment, the hero needs a reason to get up and try again. This is the moment that your hero draws inspiration from an outside source that urges him or her on.
In “Up,” this is the point where the old man turns the page of his diary and sees that his wife had written a message urging him to go out and have another adventure. This gives the old man strength to try again.
In “Die Hard,” this is the point where Bruce Willis is trapped in the bathroom, picking glass shards out of his bare feet, and he suddenly realizes the terrorists are going to blow the roof up with the hostages. To save the hostages and his wife, Bruce Willis summons up the courage to get up and try again.
This motivation also helps signal a change in the hero to correct the original character flaw. Bruce Willis suddenly realizes what his wife really means to him. In “Up,” the old man suddenly realizes that instead of mourning his wife’s memories, she wants him to continue living.
It’s this outside motivation that pushes the hero through to confront the villain.
Sometimes the hero isn’t the one with this revelation at the end, but another character. In “WALL-E,” WALL-E basically stays the same throughout the movie. However, WALL-E’s presence causes others to change around him. When the captain sees WALL-E fighting to save the plant, that’s when the captain struggles to stand on his own feet for the first time.
In “Terminator 2” the heroes are busy blowing up the factory, but the character with the real revelation is the inventor of SkyNet, who agrees to destroy everything in the factory to save the world. He does blow up the factory, but at the cost of his own life. Linda Hamilton also experiences a moment of revelation when she can’t go through in killing the inventor of SkyNet after she has him right in front of her.
The beginning of Act III is the moment of revelation, usually by the hero. This revelation gives the hero (or someone else) the strength to act and push the story into Act III where the hero can finally confront the villain. This is a crucial moment in every story, so make sure you put it in your story too because it helps give your heroes a reason to act.