This coming August 12th, Walt Disney will be releasing five classic films that have never been released on Blu-Ray before, including the animated take on the Greek divine hero Heracles, or more commonly known as Hercules.
Disney is known for taking creative liberties when adapting stories and fairytales, mostly to make them more palatable to their target audience. Hercules is a great example of this, as the character is depicted as clean shaven, red (orange, actually)-haired and a gentleman. Disney’s Hercules is more Superman than brusque, brutish, and bearded demigod.
That’s not to say that they’ve made a completely new mythos and just slapped the Hercules name on top – Disney preserved some of the more important aspects of the Hercules story: he’s Zeus’ son, raised on Earth, extremely strong, and awkwardly doing heroic stuff just to impress his father and earn his place in Mount Olympus. Along the way, he finds out about Hades’ evil plan to take over Mount Olympus and usurp Zeus so he and his pals muscle up and try to throw a wrench in the evil god’s plans.
On the whole, Disney’s Hercules is more of a superhero film than a real adaptation of the mythology. As mentioned above, some of the more important aspects of Hercules and the Greek gods were preserved, but characteristics, motivations, and even alignments were changed (for instance, Hades isn’t really an out-and-out mastermind villain in Greek mythology, if at all) in order to simplify things and make sure it’s clear who you’re supposed to root for and why.