Nitpicking: Disney’s Hercules

Norse and El here, nitpicking the horrible horribleness that is Hercules. This movie is messed up on SO MANY levels. Let’s begin ripping this movie apart, shall we?

Norse: Okay, first problem. WHY the hell is Hercules a full god? Hera wasn’t his mother in the myths, she hated his guts. Like she did with pretty much all of Zeus’s children. SHE was the one who tried to kill him on numerous occasions, not Hades. Hades didn’t even have a problem with Hercules….like, at all.

El:  I understand what they were going for.  They were trying to make it more “child appropriate”, however, they could have remained truer to the myths.  Zeus could have not been married to Hera and have fallen in love with a human woman, bringing about Hercules as he should be: a demi god.  Hera could have been Zeus’ enemy, or have personal spite towards Hercules’ mother, thereby justifying the conflict between them on a kid friendly level.

El:  Another thing I cannot understand is why many people feel the need to make Hades evil.  Nowhere is this mentioned in any of the myths, with perhaps the exception of the much later Hellenistic myths involving the unwilling abduction of Persephone (whereas in earlier myths they were in love).  Hades was very much a broody, sighing kind of god.  He presided over the Underworld, a place that was far from cheerful, and a place where denizens frequently tried to escape, so he pretty much was stuck there almost constantly, as long departures would risk a “prison break” of souls.  His job sucked, so he was kinda emo.  He was far from the Satanic figure they make him out to be. 

Norse:  Though we both like the James Woods Hades, he is not the Hades depicted in myth. On that note, its kind of ironic that this version of Greek myth was the only one so far to semi-properly portray the underworld. It was not fire and brimstone (PERCY JACKSON). It was still a little off, but pretty close. It was dreary, kind of boring place. Not terrible, but not great.

Norse: Why are the muses black, and where are the other seven? There are twelve muses, not five.

El:  They could have at least been back-up dancers or something.  I’m convinced they were saving on animation costs.  »

El:  And ooooh booooy, here we come to Titans.  As a personal fan of some of the Titanic myths and the stark contrasts between Titans and the Gods, this one irks me, big time.  The titans were portrayed as, blatantly put, moronic.  Further, the only ones seen seem to be elemental incarnates.  While primal incarnate titans existed, like Helios for the Sun, they were not literally the element itself.  Another giant hole in this is Chronos.  Chronos, the King of the Titans, wound up imprisoning his brothers and sisters into Tartarus, leaving him and his wife, Rhea as the sole remaining Titans (except for Demeter, Helios, and all those other people, buuuut…).  It took Zeus, and in some legends, his brothers Hades and Poseidon, as well as the 100-handers to successfully defeat Chronos.  ONE Titan was that powerful.  And he wasn’t particularly stupid, either (other than the rock-eating thing, but…. yeah).  So I have some major beef with the Titans.

Norse: If they’re elemental incarnates, how in the world did Zeus and all the others even imprison them? Wouldn’t they vital for the world to be properly balanced?

Norse: That’s not how Pegasus was made. /eyetwitch. First of all, Pegasus came out of Medusa’s body when Perseus slew her (LOOKING AT YOU PERCY JACKSON), and then he flew away. Pegasus was a wild, untamed winged horse, who was also fairly intelligent, unlike his depiction in this movie. Further, the only person to have ever rode Pegasus was Bellerophon, who had to gain its trust first. And look what happened to him. He died.

El: Hades’ appearance.  Okay, back to the Hades does NOT equal Satan thing.  Why is his head on fire?  He reminds me of Sweet Tooth from the Twisted Metal series, I mean, WTF.  He even has Sweet Tooth’s insane teeth and chin… he’s Sweet Tooth, isn’t he?  Someone was playing TOO MUCH Twisted Metal when they were doing his concept.  Now just picture Hades in clown makeup and you’ll see what I mean.  »

El:  Oh my god.  Pain and Panic… Okay, brief mythology lesson here.  Aphrodite and Ares, who carried on an affair for many years, had children named Deimos and Phobos, roughly translated, dread and terror.  Which… from the look of things, Disney decided to abduct Ares’ children, turn them into midget demons that work for their great uncle, Hades.  For no apparent purpose.  And this, my children, runs into one of my biggest problems with Disney.  Not necessarily the intense raping of any story they get their hand on, but the incessant need they must feel to insert talking animals/talking objects/annoying creatures into EVERY movie they do.  Every one.  When was the last time one of those bastards was funny?  NEVER. The only one it’s justified in is Beauty and the Beast.  That’s it.  I don’t even remember Pain and Panic being funny as a kid!

Norse:  Neither do I.  I think they were stupid.

El:  Yes, they were insanely stupid.

Norse: Uhhhh….Why are the fates ugly and share one eye? Furthermore, they were above the gods (and titans. Think about that for a moment.) They only told prophecies and fates when it was absolutely necessary. The didn’t just arbitrarily work for Hades because he complimented them on their (non-existent) beauty. Disney, why do you feel the need to add unnecessary characters?

El:  And then we come down the master “EVIL” plan.  Kukukuku.  Unleashing the Titans.  Yes, this makes PERFECT sense.  Unleash the sworn enemies of the Gods and expect them to honestly do you bidding.  There’s absolutely no chance that they would betray you once they killed all the other gods and reclaim their power.  No chance at all!

Norse & El: Seriously, how do you make a god mortal?  I mean, apparently this potion is randomly available, so why not trick Zeus into drinking it?  I mean, wouldn’t that be easier?  Hades is pretty stupid for not coming up with that one.  It has to do with the prophecy surrounding Hercules and blah blah blah, so that’s why Hercules and not Zeus.  HOWEVER, I can’t recall any magical anything capable of turning a god mortal.  It seems, I dunno, overly convenient.  DEUS.  EX.  MACHINA. 

El:  Okay, I’m starting to notice a theme here.  Hercules = Superman.  No, seriously, think about it.  The ONLY son of an influential member of a superior race (because apparently Zeus has no other children in this…) is cast down to earth, bestowed upon an old woman and an old man who were always hopeful for children.  And this child just happens to have superpowers.  Siiiigh.  Which… I guess makes Megara Lois and Hades… Darkseid + Luthor?  Seriously.  He was raised by his mortal biological mother, not by Ma and Pa Kent. 

Norse:  Okay, so if he didn’t drink the bottle down to the very last drop, he still had some godly blood or something. BUT COME ON. How does he have super strength and durability to such a great level over one drop? Does it really make that much of difference? How much power would he have possessed if he only drank half of the bottle?

El:  Snakes… Hera.  NOTHING to do with Hades.  Hera sent snakes to kill baby Hercules…

El:  Boohoo.  Herc is mortal now and the gods can’t ever see him again.  So tragic.  BULLSHIT.  There’s this thing called Ambrosia mentioned in at least one myth where it is capable of turning you INTO A GOD.  Why don’t they feed baby Herc that if they’re really so upset?

Norse: Don’t the gods come down to earth every other day, as well?

El:  Yes, they do.  They could’ve visited him that way if they were big enough dumbasses to not think of Ambrosia. 

Norse: Hercules, like most Greek heroes, was kinda an ass. Picture Greek heroes as those douchebags you see in clubs who rant about how amazing they are, and that kind of thing. Also, I don’t he was ever klutzy. He destroyed things in RAGE, not klutziness.

El:  The infrequent Greek temples baffle me.  Much like churches today, there was usually at least ONE church in a town, not to mention a multitude of small shrines.  The head of the pantheon like Zeus would at LEAST have a shrine.  I think they wanted to go with the famous Temple of Zeus, but STILL.

Norse: THE FUCK? Why does Zeus posses his own statue instead of just coming down to visit? Did the gods just forget that they could do that?

El:  I think they’re all getting long in the tooth.  I blame Alzheimer’s!

Norse: Him in the statue is creepy as hell.

El:  Philoctetes was obscure.  Like, really obscure, and not a satyr.  He was a random dude who helped Hercules on one of his 12 tasks.  Tasks that this movie apparently wants NOTHING to do with except for making them side-stories that have nothing to do with him brutally murdering his children and wife.  

Norse: OHAI random centaur that looks nothing like a centaur. Aren’t you supposed to be killed by Hercules in one of his 12 tasks? And your blood eventually kills him, since his wife was a dumbshit and dipped his shirt in the centaurs blood, believing it when it told her that it would help Hercules and not kill him.

El:  Okay… here’s another thing that makes me wonder.  Philoctetes apparently trained Achilles of the Trojan War (c. 1600 BC), and yet, Cleopatra is mentioned in passing, which would mean that Rome has already conquered Greece.  So… either Phil is several thousand years old, or Disney really wasn’t trying.

Norse: Oh Thebes. The other thing Disney got correct in this movie by making in the problem city, since Thebes possessed an uncanny ability to attract disaster. The citizens of Thebes were also fairly entertaining.

El: Wait.  Wait a minute!  PLOT HOLE THE SIZE OF RUSSIA.  Hades is… SURPRISED that Hercules isn’t dead.  As the God of the Underworld, he should be aware of the souls that pass in to his realm, and since Hercules would have been “mortal” at that point, there’s no doubt he’d have been under his domain.  What, was Hades taking a dump at that time?  Was he pulling a Bond-Villain and not seeing his plan to fruition, or at the very least, refusing to verify that the event had occurred?  This plot hole literally rips apart the movie.  But that won’t stop us from further picking it apart!

Norse: Okay….why does the hydra have like, 20 heads? Was Disney just excited to mess around with 3D animation at this time? Furthermore, Hercules was stupid, granted. But he wasn’t that stupid. With the movie set up, he should’ve figured out that chopping off the heads wasn’t going to kill it. Hercules was also not the one who fought the Minotaur, or the harpies. Hell, he didn’t actually fight half of the monsters Hades sent at him in this movie.

Although he did fight the lion and boar. Props to Disney for making the lion Scar.

El:  Yes, I enjoyed that Easter Egg more than I should have.

El:  Hmm, as the movie progresses, I can’t help but notice a certain influence on Hades.  While I do very much appreciate and like his motivation for being evil (see: having a terrible job where everyone hates you and you can’t leave), Disney seems to be pulling heavily from other myths from other cultures.  Namely, Nordic culture in relation to Loki.  Much like Loki, Hades is depicted as having powers over flame.  And, much like Loki, Hades unleashes and sides with non-humanoid entities that will destroy the Gods.  And then there is Pain and Panic… who transform themselves into a mare to lure away Pegasus, a Stallion, to overcome their foe.  Loki does exactly that.

Norse: I’m Norse and I approve this message.

El:  It’s sad that, with a name like Norse, I’m the one who noticed.

Norse: D<

Norse: Moving on, gladiators were Roman, and the modern culture references are certainly out of place here.  But time means nothing in this movie, since Phil is several thousand years old. Or a timelord.

El:  Sigh.  Aside from the fact that apparently “true heroes” can ascend to godhood and retire to Mount Olympus (instead of the Elysian fields where they were actually SUPPOSED to go), they add an ideal for “true hero” that is more Christian than Greek: self sacrifice.  While the idea of sacrificing oneself or devoting oneself was not foreign, and many myths include just that, it was not a concept imposed upon their heroes.  Like many classical heroes, most Greek heroes were… jerks.  Proud, prone to rage, infidelity, you name it.  They liked to play up the human part.  Heroes didn’t need to aspire to selflessness, they just needed to do epic deeds.  In Greek culture, the thing to aspire to was perfection in mind, body, and soul—not the Christian values we’re familiar with. 

El:  And, on a side note, another cultural thing… makeup.  We see it.  This would be extraordinarily uncommon, as makeup was something that only prostitutes wore for quite some time before the French nobility began to promote its use (more on males than females), before it finally became fashionable all around.  While some may argue that the Egyptians wore makeup, their eyes were lined usually to help prevent glare, similar to what football players wear on their cheeks.  It was not cosmetics as we know it.

Norse: Another thing I liked was Oedipus mentioned in passing. Nicely played, Disney.

Norse: Okay, let’s get into yet another cultural thing. Hubris. Hubris is when you claim that you are greater than a god (more beautiful, have better children, are a better person, etc.) and then you get smacked down. So, when Hercules said that Megara was more beautiful than Aphrodite, BAM! hubris.

El:  Maybe that’s why she died.  It wasn’t the PILLAR that killed her (I mean, come on, you see her body - it isn’t crushed at all!), it was Aphrodite smoting dat biatch.

El:  Wait.  A cyclops… isn’t a Titan.  At all.  They were large, but… they weren’t Titans.  In fact, they were the children of Poseidon.  Aside from my mythological issues with this part, we see Hercules… as a MORTAL, get smacked around by the Titan.  Several times.  He goes flying hundreds of feet, gets smashed into the ground, smacks against pillars… as a mortal.  I dunno if Disney knows this… but human bodies usually can’t take that kind of punishment. 

Norse and El: And finally, the climatic battle! The gods are imprisoned, Zeus is defeated! But what’s this? Its Hercules come to save the day! The ending was inappropriate; It ruined the tone set by Hercules’s sacrifice for Megara, Hades is far too easily defeated in his own realm.  Hercules somehow breaks an oath made in Hades’ domain, then face-punches him into the river of Styx, which apparently isn’t happy to see him.  Neverminding the fact that only HUMANS can’t touch the river (because, I dunno, Achilles, a mere demi-god was bathed in it and made MORE POWERFUL), we have a problem with Hades essentially being defeated by his own power. While this movie did have some enjoyable parts, on a whole this movie is not one of Disney’s best works.

And so concludes the review of Hercules.

Disney-badger don’t care!

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