Typing characters with the Enneagram can be tricky. Stereo types of Enneagram numbers can cause confusion, and often lead to poor typing choices. Characters can look like a variety of so many different types, but its still fun to try to figure out. To help we have created 8 questions to ask when trying to accurately type characters, and we will be using The Avengers as examples (and don't worry, there are no Endgame spoilers ahead, but this may contain other spoilers if you are not caught up). These examples are all based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe's (MCU) version of these heroes/villains, and not the comic books versions.
Remember you should never type a real person this way, or tell them what type you think they are; they should come to the revelation on their own. #thanosdemandsyoursilence
So without further ado here are 8 questions to ask yourself when typing a movie/tv character:
1. Is this character worth typing?
It would be great if all of our favorite characters could be a Enneagram type, but in reality some are just not real enough, or have enough screen time, or have enough personality to be typed.
- Our main example of this is Drax. In the comic's I would imagine Drax being a 8 or 1, very focused on justice/revenge for his family. However in the MCU he is mostly used for comic relief and does not have enough real moments to be seriously evaluated.
- Another example is Groot, it is hard to establish a characters motivations without hearing them explain it using words. An argument could be made for Groot through his actions, and I would agree he does show a incredible amount of loyalty to Rocket, which is a characteristic of a 6, but I do not believe this to be conclusive.
2. Is this character acting in health, or un-health?
Unhealthy characters can be easier to spot and type. As we move towards health, we start to develop the good characteristics from all 9 types so your core type is quieter.
- Our best example of a loud unhealthy number in the MCU is Loki, as an unhealthy 4. Loki is fixated on the perceived favoritism of his adopted brother Thor and how he has always felt less than; even though Loki and Thor are both Gods. He even re-enforces his 4-ness when he states "their are no men like me" in Marvel's The Avengers.
3. Is this character acting in stress or security?
Stress and security are BIG factors to take into account when typing characters. Because two types can look so similar (8/3/1 for example, can appear almost identical at first glance), a character acting in stress is a big piece to the puzzle of their type.
- Bucky: We don't get to see much of Steve Roger's (Captain America) best friend Bucky, before he is experimented on and turned into the Winter Solider. The little bit we see of him points to his core number being 7 (he is the life of the party, and spins the fact of Steve not being able to enlist as a good thing, i.e. "being the last eligible bachelor in New York"), and his personality as the Winter Solider is him acting in his stress number 1, being highly skilled and precise in each of his missions.
- Black Panther is a good example of a healthy 1 going to his stress number of 4 when his father dies. As this normally logical, disciplined, and good 1 becomes blinded by his own emotions, not able to put vengeance far from his mind.
- Iron Man, we believe is an 8. His father (who was most likely a 3) had high expectations of him, and we see Tony rebel against those expectations and waste most of his young adult life. He is smart, witty, high energy, justice orientated (when healthy), and doesn't care about the opinions of others like a 3 would. Iron Man is a good example of using the stress arrows as a clue, because of how clearly he acts out in the average-unhealthy behaviors of 5 when he is stressed (withdrawn, quiet, inventive, focused, forgetful of his own needs). This is most clearly seen in his 3rd movie when he is having a mental breakdown and dives into a topic of interest by building dozens of suits.
4. Does this character have a wing?
Although our main motivations come from our core number, a lot of our behaviors can come from our wing number. This is an important fact to take into account when assessing a characters number.
- Captain America: We believe Cap is a 1. A good example of this is the quote: "We need a plan of attack!" to which Iron Man responds "I have a plan...Attack." showing the clear differences between a 1 who wants to do things the right way, and an 8 who just wants to get it done. We see examples of Captain America's inner critic and his denigrating to 4 in stress as he draws a picture of himself as a performing money using both a 4's wallowing in melancholy and creativity. There are a couple of things which don't make sense for type 1 in Captain Americas character however, and we owe those more personable, relational, and helpful qualities to his 2 wing, making him much more giving and outwardly focused.
- Star Lord: A pretty obvious 7, Star Lord makes everything he's doing into a good time. Although we can see a lot of 8 influences in his character with how he deals with conflict and disappointment, as a strong sense of justice is an 8 trait. This is owed to his 8 wing, but 7 is more likely to be his core number.
- Iron Man: Although we touched on Iron Man above, it’s worth noting his very strong 7 wing can make him look like a 7 or even a 3 in some of his movies. His 7 wing gives him a more playful demeanor, playboy attitude, and overall endless search for a good time. It's interesting how different Iron Man looks from his brother in wing numbers, Star Lord, who is a 7w8. Star Lord is definitely playfulness first and assertiveness second, whereas Iron Man is more rebellious, challenging, and aggressive with a playful undertone.
5. Do stereotypes effect this character?
Some characters might have characteristics which are contradictory to the number/main motivation which seems obvious for them. This is usually due to stereotypes of how gender, careers, cultures, etc. are often portrayed in Hollywood.
- Hulk/Bruce Banner: Scientists aren't all 5s, there we said it. Bruce Banner is a great example of a character which at first glance looks like a 5....because well he has a very 5 job, and some would say he acts in a withdrawing stance. However, if we look at the Hulk as being a representative of Bruce Banners stress number, it all points to Bruce being a type 2, as 2s go to 8 in stress. Once we look at him through this lens it all makes sense. Bruce is very focused on helping people, and a 1 wing probably is to thank for his helping being more towards global causes then relational. When we see Bruce withdraw it is not for self protection, but for loving reasons, as he does not want to hurt others: "I focused on helping people, I was good." - Bruce Banner, Marvel's The Avengers.
- Black Widow: Could be a 1 or an 8, but is highly impacted by being the only female cast member in most of her scenes. Even though she is logical, precise, strong, and highly skilled, it's like the writers can't help but make her emotional, and give her a love interest.
6. Is this character being influenced by other characters around them?
Sometimes characters have traits which don't make sense until it is realized the character is being influenced by the other characters around them (typically 3/6/9). A few examples of this are:
- Thor: Thor's own 3-ness seems to be very influenced by what his father (an 8) deemed worthy to call success, therefore Thor seeks out to be the best warrior and would-be king he can be. This makes Thor's 3-ness much more aggressive, and intimidating than it might've been without his fathers influence. In his first move Thor starts out as a unhealthy 3, trying to claim glory and honor, but instead failing, and having a lot of growth out of failure (another mark of a 3). He ends the movie a much healthier 3 with this quote: "There will never be a wiser king than you. Or a better father. I have much to learn...I know that now. One day, perhaps, I will make you proud."
- Captain Marvel is a difficult character to type, because in her movie she doesn't know who she is. However she does show us how she is driven to impress her superiors, much like a 3 might, whether this is in the Kree army, or testing experimental aircraft.
- "Happy" Hogan: Tony Stark's loyal body guard, assistance, and in Iron Man 3 a paranoid head of security, showing both the anxiety and loyalty sides of a type 6.
- Mantis is a great example of a (highly exaggerated) Enneagram 9. She is sweet, kindhearted, conflict avoidant, helpful, merging with those around her, and believes her presence is not as important as those around her. i.e her shock when asked a personal question in Guardians of the Galaxy 2: "I have never been asked a personal question."
7. Is this character’s Enneagram number being influenced by the actor playing them?
Characters numbers can sometimes change depending on the actor who's playing them, and how strongly the actor's number comes out in the characters they play.
- Spider Man: Peter Parker is likely written in the comics as a type 5, and this is very obvious in other renditions of this character (very knowledgeable, nerdy, socially awkward). However, Tom Holland's version of Spider man appears to be very influenced by Tom's own number, which is most likely 7. This makes for a fun Spider man to watch, but there are some plot holes..like someone so likable only having one friend. Another character influenced by their 7 actor is Chris Pratt's Star Lord.
- Nick Furry: Samuel L Jackson is a strong personality, and brings a certain amount of 8-ness to most of the characters he plays. Nick Furry is no different, and SLJ was likely given a lot of creative freedom in how he played our favorite bad-ass shield director, as it has been reported the comic book character of Nick Furry was actually remastered in the early 2000s to resemble SLJ.
8. Is there a number that stands out for this character?
Once you have asked yourself all of the above questions and you still feel the character is what you originally felt, your instincts may just be right. Sometime a character is truly as obvious as they appear, as some types have very outwardly defining characteristics. Examples of these are:
- Dr Strange: A pretty obvious 5, Strange is intellectual, thoughtful, withdrawn, confident, has a non-people pleasing nature, and a drive to learn and know more. Within the first 20 minutes of his movie his 5-ness was more than apparent. As his character grows and becomes more healthy/secure he is able to leave his "inner sanctum" and become more action/outwardly focused using his security 8 traits.
- Hawk Eye: Our master bowman, a highly observant, and tactical strategist is a clear Enneagram 1. His attention to detail, and logical thinking shows that he is truly the Perfectionist. And I have no doubt that we will see his stress number 4 play a role as he takes on the persona "Ronin".
- Scott Lang/Ant Man: This optimistic, fun dad, who made friends while in prison, is a classic 7. Even while under house arrest he is able to easily entertain his daughter, and always has a happy outlook on life. Scott also has his masters in electrical engineering, highlighting his ability to go to 5 in security.
- Rocket Raccoon: Our easily angered, furry friend is always up for a challenge and welcomes conflict, as any 8 would.
- Thanos: Whether this is a popular opinion or not, we have lots of reasons why we believe Thanos is a 1. He is clearly able to make hard decisions for the "greater good", believing that he is doing the right/correct thing, he also is fully able to feel emotion when Gamora dies (going to 4 in stress). Thanos fulfills his mission with a calm and collected demeanor, and is not as easily angered as an 8, or as showy as a 3, even giving respect to Tony Stark and not gloating in his victory. Thanos learned on Titan that the universe must be saved from over-population, and took on the responsibility himself to correct this wrong. In his mind he is doing the right thing.
Did we miss one of your favorite characters? Then type them yourself! We'd love to hear your thought process.
Want to learn more about the Enneagram? The Road Back to You is a great place to start, and you can also keep up with us on Instagram @enneagram.life.