The movie Hercules and the myth “Heracles” both describe the story of a demi-god, Hercules. His quest to prove himself worthy of god-hood is described in various tasks which he completes to show his strength and bravery.
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Disney and Rosenberg & Baker’s depictions of Hercules are similar, with the gods mentioned in the movie representative of those described in the myth. Hercules also succeeds in transforming into a god at the end of both works. However, the list for similarities between the movie and myth end quickly, as Hercules and “Heracles” differ in many aspects.
Though the general plots remain the same, due to Disney’s goal of fixating kids with the idea of good versus evil, Disney’s Hercules has transformed the impression of the myth “Heracles” because of the overly perfected portrayal of Hercules, and the completely evil representation of Hades. One major difference between Hercules and “Heracles” is Hercules’ total perfection within the movie.
In the myth “Heracles”, Rosenberg and Baker describe Hercules’ faults, “…[W]ith temporary insanity…[t]hinking that his children were enemies, he killed them with his bow” (265). “Heracles” shows a rather darker aspect to Hercules; instead of a shining knight, he plays the role of a troubled warrior who harms his own family.
While he possesses great strength, his lack of emotional control causes him to create frightening errors, and thus diminish the value of his noble deeds. Instead, in the Disney film, viewers are bewildered by Hercules’ ability to slay fearsome monsters like the Hydra, all the while boosting his flawless reputation.
Disney cannot give Hercules’ character emotional misfortune; watching a man of great physical strength fall because of himself would be too confusing for young children to understand and too troubling for adults to allow their children to view. In addition, because Disney is a corporation of marketing their characters and creations, they must impress upon their audiences that their representatives are indeed perfect, to subtly imply that their company is perfect as well.
To summarize, Hercules becomes Disney’s new “Rocky” in a toga to draw viewers awy from the man Hercules truly is inside: emotional, Another difference between the myth and the movie is Hades’ portrayal as the complete, ultimate villain. In the myth, there are no true opposite heroes and villains, as Hera aids Hercules in bringing misfortune upon himself, not Hades. According to the myth, Hades does not care about the domains outside the Underworld; since they do not belong to him, he does not dwell upon them either.
However, because the colors which represent him are black and grey, the reaction to Hades is one of mystery, fear, and hatred. Disney decided to create this impression to a greater extent, as in the movie Hercules, Hades is given the role as the ultimate evil, “I’ve got 24 hours to get rid of this bozo, or the entire scheme I’ve been setting up for 18 years goes up in smoke” (Musker and Clements).
Disney’s obsession with good versus evil is apparent; Hades being a madman who plans to take over the world is a common setup as the polar opposite of a story’s main protagonist. Also, because Disney targets viewers of elementary school ages, it would be too perplexing for young children to understand the aspects of infidelity and why the character portrayed as Hercules’ mother, Hera, is punishing her own child.
All in all, to protect their own reputation and their viewers, Disney shows Hades as a servant of Hell, rather than a lord of “The Land Under”. In conclusion, the movie Hercules and the myth “Heracles” show the immense changes a movie can have upon the story it is retelling. Though the movie and story explain the same basic aspects, Disney edits characters such as Hercules and Hades to adapt to their own marketing ploys, and in turn, creates a misunderstanding of “Heracles”.
The ultimate lesson taught by Disney’s interpretation of “Heracles” is one which all students can heed. Students will no longer question a teacher’s response when asking if they can watch a film instead of reading the story itself; the teacher simply does not want the students to fail the reading tests on the actual book.