Robert Langdon is not as well-known as James Bond or Indiana Jones, at least not by name. However, mention The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, or Origin, and you might say, “Oh yeah. That guy.” Langdon is a creation of Dan Brown and plays the hero in each of his novels since Angels and Demons.
According to Dan Brown, Robert Langdon is “the man he wishes he could be.” Langdon mirrors Brown as close as possible. They share the same birthday. Both attended Phillips Exeter Academy. He’s all about symbols and puzzles. But Brown pays tribute to another person by sharing the last name with John Langdon, a man known for his ambigrams, words or designs that appear the same way when viewed from different directions.
Last of all Brown added one of my heroes to the character of Robert Langdon. That person is Joseph Campbell. Campbell’s writing on religion and mythology is contained in The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The Code Hunters relies on myth and its power to entertain and inspire.
Brown wrote that he “remembered admiring Campbell’s matter-of-fact responses and wanting my own character Langdon to project that same respectful understanding when faced with complex spiritual issues.”
To me, Robert Langdon is everyman. He’s not a Bond playboy, or an Indiana Jones explorer. He’s just a college professor that gets pulled into adventures. In the movie, he’s played by Tom Hanks, an actor who’s made a career on playing average people who are made heroes by no choice of their own. Think Saving Private Ryan or Sully.
I added dashes of Bond and Indiana Jones to the character of Nicholas Foxe, but also made him an unlikely hero like Robert Langdon.