Hercules (1997) Poster



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The role of Hades is one of James Woods' all-time favorite characters. So much so, any time Disney needs him to reprise the character for any cartoon show and video game, such as Hercules: The Series or Kingdom Hearts, he has agreed to do so. When this film was about to go over-budget, he offered to refund his salary and finish the film for free. Disney decided against this, and finished the film anyway.
Hades was scripted as a slow, menacing character until James Woods took the role and impressed the crew with his rapid-fire style. Even after the script was rewritten, Woods ad-libbed many lines.
When Phil and Hercules first enter Phil's hut, Hercules bangs his head on what Phil tells him is the mast of the Argo. In Greek mythology, Jason, the captain of the Argo, was killed when the mast hit his head. In the myths, Hercules was one of the heroes/sailors on the Argo.
James Woods ate a Watermelon to make the slurping sounds more authentic in the scene where Hades is eating worms whilst recording.
Phil cleans himself up using a lion's skin. The skin once belonged to Scar from The Lion King (1994).
While the movie is about Greek myths, Hercules is actually the protagonist's Roman name. Heracles is his Greek name.
On his way to Thebes, Hercules meets Megara after he saves her from the River Guardian, Nessos. While this is not the story of how Hercules came to know Megara in Greek legend, it IS (almost exactly) how he came to know his second wife, Deianira.
The "Air Herc" sandals brand is a reference to the Nike Air footwear line. Moreover, the Hercules mosaic showing Hercules running resembles an actual Nike print ad. Nike was the Greek goddess who personified triumph and inspired the shoe company's name.
In the movie, Pain and Panic take the shape of two snakes in order to kill infant Hercules, but he simply grabs and tosses them about. This is another reference to the Herculean myths, where goddess Hera sent two snakes to kill infant Hercules, who simply grabbed and choked them.
While the story of Hercules' birth and adoption in the film is not true to the myth, it does mirror the story of Oedipus, who is referenced several other times throughout the film. Oedipus was abandoned on a mountain side, much like the scenery of where Hercules is left: and baby Oedipus is found by a local farmer, who gives the baby to his master, and is raised by him and his wife, who had been unable to concieve. Hercules' adopted parents are portrayed more-or-less as farmers, and his mother comments about Hercules being 'the baby they had prayed for', implying they had been unable to concieve.
In Greek mythology, there were nine Muses. The five shown here are: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), and Thalia (comedy).
Phil's physical appearance was partly inspired by Danny DeVito's.
Leaving aside the 'Pastoral' segment of Fantasia (1940), this was the first Disney animated feature to be completely inspired by mythology rather than a fairy tale.
In the scene where two kids were trapped under a boulder, they said "someone call IXII". Though pronounced as letters, this is a reference to the Roman numerals IX, I, I, or 911 - the emergency phone number in the United States.
Pain and Panic are named for two of the four minions of Ares, "Phobos" and "Deimos", which roughly translate to "Pain" and "Panic". Phobos and Deimos are also the names given to the two moons of the planet Mars.
The animators spent 6 to 14 hours to render a frame of the Hydra, depending on how many heads it had.
During the song "Zero to Hero" the muses talk about Hercules doing things like endorsing products and making personal appearances for money. It may seem anachronistic to the point of being silly on purpose, but even back in ancient Greece and Rome, famous athletes pretty much did all those things and were paid very well for them.
Hades says "Relax, it's only half-time" right in the middle of the movie.
The Spice Girls were originally approached to portray the Muses following an invitation to sing one of the songs, but declined the offer due to scheduling conflicts.
When Hercules and Phil first meet, Phil says "Two words: I am retired," much to the confusion of Hercules. However, in Greek, "I am retired" translates as "Eímai syntaxioúchos", which is actually only two words.
Animator Andreas Deja, who is best known for animating villains like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast (1991), Jafar in Aladdin (1992), and Scar in The Lion King (1994), requested the task of animating Adult Hercules, the hero.
There are many references to the Tragedy of Oedipus: Philoctetes decides to take Hercules to Thebes, so that he can be the new hero of the city. There's also a group of Thebians complaining about fires, floods, monsters, and other disasters. This refers to the fact that after Oedipus married his mother Jocasta and became king of Thebes, a plague struck the city. When Hercules spent the day with Meg and says: "And then that, that play, that, that, that Oedipus thing...Man, I thought I had problems."
Four of the Titans in the film are shown as personifications of wind, fire, ice, and earth, the classic Four Elements. This is rather different from how they appear in Greek mythology, but is remarkably similar to the Jötun of Norse mythology, who personify fire, wind, and ice among other things.
At one point during "I Won't Say I'm In Love", the Muses sing while appearing as marble busts. The busts are in the same arrangement as the singing busts in the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Jack Nicholson, Willem Dafoe, and David Bowie were all considered for the voice of Hades. John Lithgow was originally cast as Hades and recorded all of the dialogue, but was ultimately replaced with James Woods in the final film.
The film was released due to backlash against the previous two Disney releases of Pocahontas (1995) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). The major criticisms of the two film where that they were "too dark" and dealt with "serious issues" that Disney shouldn't use in their animated films. Hercules (1997) was released to lighten things up.
Phil's line "Don't let your guard down because of a pair of big goo-goo eyes" (heard in the ads) was originally "Don't let your guard down because of a pair of big, blue eyes". By the time the scene was in color, Meg's eyes were purple.
Hercules' Credit Card is shown as: "VI V XI XIV XV XVI IV, ex IV M BC, member since I M BC" or "6511 14 1516 4, expires Apr 1000 BC, member since Jan 1000 BC"
In the version for Latin America, the voice of Hercules is played by Ricky Martin and Megara is voiced by singer Tatiana.
When Hermes delivers the floral arrangement to Zeus and Hera, it is a direct parody of the logo for the floral delivery company FTD Florists, who uses Mercury, the Roman name for Hermes.
Phil's line, "If you can make it there you can make it anywhere," is part of the lyrics of the Frank Sinatra song "New York, New York."
As Meg and Hercules are falling in love in the park, Meg gets poked in the back by Cupids arrow.
The statue Hercules hits while skipping stones is the famous Venus de Milo (or Aphrodite of Milos) which can be seen at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
During "Zero to Hero" they show Hercules and Pegasus making concrete handprints. There are multiple complete handprints around them including Achilles and Aphrodite. Each block also references a "Sid". This is Sid Grauman, the creator of the Chinese Theater that showcases celebrity handprints in real life.
The first full-length Disney animated feature film since Oliver & Company (1988) to feature the main antagonist/villain who does not sing. (McLeach, the villain of The Rescuers Down Under (1990), didn't have a musical number like the films that followed, but did sing a rendition of "Home on the Range")
In mythology, Heracles (the Greek name of Hercules) is the son of Zeus. Zeus is the brother of Poseidon. Poseidon has a son named Triton. In The Little Mermaid (1989) one of Triton's children is Ariel, making the two Disney heroes first cousins once removed.
Susan Egan, who voices Meg, recreated the role of Belle in the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast (1991).
Thebes is portrayed very similarly to New York City. For example, Phil calls it "The Big Olive." New York is commonly referred to as "The Big Apple," but Greece is known for its olives. Also, When almost run over by a chariot, Phil says," Hey, I'm walkin' here!" This is a reference to Dustin Hoffman's line in Midnight Cowboy (1969) when he is nearly run over by a taxi.
At the end of the song "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)," the muses can be heard singing the tune to "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid (1989).
In the scene where Hercules rushes into the town with a carriage containing Amphitryon, Penelope, and a tall bale of hay, the bale hits the top of the entrance to the town, and two men carrying a stone block fall off the top. These two men are caricatures of the directors John Musker and Ron Clements.
The Greek god Hades was not evil - in fact, he was one of the more personable deities of Ancient Greece, despite his job as lord of the dead. However, many other versions (for instance Clash of Titans) depict him as a villain, like the Disney version. While in Rick Riordan's novels like Percy Jackson and the Olympians, he is adept to bargains and holds a slight, brotherly spite over Zeus that he does not act upon at least not in an villainous fashion. Another detail regarding Hades that was left out of the film was that he was married to Persephone, the goddess of spring. In addition to this, Hades and Persephone were said to genuinely love one another; Persephone helped govern the job of ruling the Underworld when she was with him and in turn Hades was fiercely loyal to her and hated seeing her sad.
In the myths, Hercules was one of the heroes/sailors on the Argo.
WILHELM SCREAM: When the cyclops titan first starts crushing buildings looking for Hercules.
Pain calls the potion that turns Hercules mortal Grecian Formula. Grecian Formula is an actual product used to color graying hair.
During Hercules' training montage, Phil, Pegasus, and Hercules balance on logs at a beach. This is a reference to a training exercise used by Mr Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid (1984).
Hades is depicted in the Disney movie with control over fire, pyromancy, where the fire is actually an element not related with Hades, being earth and gold, actually the closest element to Hades; the fire is probably to give him some association with the common idea of the Devil, augmenting the ideal of villain and comically with his "hot-head" personality. Because blue flame burns at higher temperature than red/orange flame, the implication that when Hades gets angry he "heats-up" and turns red is inaccurate. Technically, Hades is hotter when he is calm than when he is angry. However, blue means calm and red means angry, so it could simply be the color scheme.
The shooting star Hercules sees during "Go the Distance" is actually Pegasus watching over him.
Originally when Hades has the Titans trap Zeus in ice and lava, after he says "Hades you're behind this!" Hades was going to reply "And speaking of behind no one's going to save yours" while doing a Groucho Marx impression, it was cut for pacing.
John Goodman, Jim Belushi, Gregory Peck, and Patrick Stewart were all considered for the role of Zeus. All of them but Gregory Peck would later however star in Future Disney Animated Films: -John Goodman would voice Pacha in The Emperor's New Groove (2000) and Big Daddy in The Princess and the Frog (2009). -Patrick Stewart would voice Mr. Woolensworth the Sheep in Chicken Little (2005). -While not in the Disney Animated Feature lineup, James Belushi would voice Benny the Squirrel in The Wild (2006).
The wall painting in Alcmene and Amphitryon's bedroom is the famous "Spring Fresco" from the Greek island of Thera and can be seen at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.
When Hermes delivers the flowers to Hera, he says, "I had Orpheus do the arrangement. Isn't that too nutty?" The joke here is in the double use for the word "arrangement" - as in "floral arrangement" and "musical arrangement". The voice for Hermes is bandleader Paul Shaffer, and in Greek mythology, Orpheus is known as "the father of songs", so he would be the perfect choice to do an "arrangement".
Walt Disney Pictures debuted Hercules (1997) in a two week exclusive run for the grand re-opening of the New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street, New York City, preceding it with a stage revue. The opening promoted the theater, which subsequently hosted long runs of theatrical versions of The Lion King (1994) and Mary Poppins (1964).
Production designer Gerald Scarfe, who designed nearly all the characters, worked with Pink Floyd multiple times and is best known for his artwork and animations for Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982).
Early into production, the filmmakers decided the Hydra would ultimately have thirty heads by which the animators created one master head, and the computer could multiply the heads to their desired scale. Overall, thirteen animators and technical directors spent nearly a year-and-a-half creating the four-minute battle sequence.
Hades is probably the oldest of the Disney Villains due to his immortality. Mother Gothel, however, would probably be the oldest human villain so far, due to her using the Power of a Golden Flower to keep her alive/prevent her from getting to an elderly state.
Due to him being immortal, Hades, along with Governor Ratcliffe (who is a human), are the only Disney Renaissance villains that do not die at the end of his film, meaning he'd be able to find a way out of his fate. Jafar, although he did not die at the end of Aladdin (1992), actually dies at the end of the Straight to Video/DVD Sequel The Return of Jafar (1994).
When Zeus is creating Pegasus as a gift to Hercules, he is using "clouds" to create Pegasus - Cirrus, Nimbostratus and Cumulus are different types of clouds.
The directors sought inspiration from classic screwball comedy films directed by Preston Sturges and Frank Capra with "Hercules as the young Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Musker explained, and "Meg is modeled on Barbara Stanwyck, especially the characters she played in The Lady Eve (1941) and Meet John Doe (1941)."
When the Fates tell Hades the planets will align in 18 years precisely, the picture they create shows six planets aligning. This corresponds to the Ancient Greek understanding of astronomy, since besides Earth, there are only five planets ( Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) that are clearly visible in the night sky with the naked eye. While the sixth star in the picture could be Uranus, it is barely visible on extremely clear nights and was only officially discovered in the 18th century, so it is more likely that their divine viewpoint let them see Earth included in the alignment.
The film's interpretation of the character of Hades is said to be based on Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, who left the Walt Disney Company on bad terms to form DreamWorks Pictures.
Hades seems to have a strong hatred for the Goddess of the Night, Hecate, calling her a "witch" at the conference of the Olympians. She in turn wants his throne and steals his power.
The Hydra is a rare instance of blood and gore shown onscreen in a Disney movie, as it visibly bleeds green blood after its heads are cut off.
Due to his birth from various types of clouds being combined together, it is unknown whether there are any other members of his race besides him (other than Hades' winged creature pulling his cart) in existence. Additionally, it is also unknown whether it was Pegasus' first time to see a female winged horse when Pain and Panic disguised as it to trap him and why he was attracted (this could possibly mean that there are other winged horses in the universe).
The musical number "Zero to Hero" shows Hercules riding Pegasus through the nighttime sky with constellations looking at him, and it shows a woman in a dress that flies up and she holds it down. This is a reference to the famous scene from The Seven Year Itch (1955) starring Marilyn Monroe.
It is also unknown why Hades himself didn't go to convince Nessus himself and sent Megara instead even though Hades must have a high authority; most likely he preferred to delegate.
Hades is one of the few classic villains without a memorable song. However, he does have an recurring instrumental theme, which may be found as "Speak of the Devil" on the Hercules Soundtrack, and in the Hercules tv series, he sings "My Town" when he takes over Athens.
Hades is also the only deity that lacks the shining aura in his body (all others have an aura with the color matching their skin's) so as the only one with that smoke aspect; this may be because the others are not evil in any way.
When the Hydra was seen as a baby being fed by Echidna, it already has three heads even though it started with only one. As stated in the myth, Hercules slew the Hydra by slicing off its heads, then using a torch to cauterize the stumps left.
In the original mythology, Pegasus is born after Perseus cut off Medusa's head and was the child of Medusa and Poseidon. In the Disney version, Pegasus is created by Zeus.
It is unclear as to why Hades wasn't aware that Hercules hadn't been killed by Pain and Panic back when Hercules was a baby, seeing that he is the Lord of the Dead; the most likely explanation is that he doesn't keep track of specific details about his role and simply assumed that all had gone according to plan. But in the series Hades claimed that if someone was dead, he would know about it.
The Hydra is rendered in CGI, unlike the rest of the movie which is in hand-drawn animation. This was done as it would have been incredibly difficult to draw each head individually.
James Coburn, Phil Hartman, Michael Ironside, Martin Landau, Terrence Mann, Ron Silver, Kevin Spacey, and Rod Steiger auditioned for Hades. Two of these actors that auditioned would later get the parts of villains in Pixar Films, Spacey in A Bug's Life (1998) and Coburn in Monsters, Inc. (2001).
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The role of Pain was written with Bobcat Goldthwait in mind, although the actor confessed he still had to audition for the role despite playing himself.
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Directors John Musker and Ron Clements envisioned Mount Olympus as a city composed of clouds. In order for the animators to achieve the directors' vision, the painted backgrounds of clouds and cloud-like imagery were blended with hand-drawn effects animation to create a morphing technique that were used for baby Hercules' cradle and Zeus' reclining chair.
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The Hydra is based on the Lernaean Hydra, a serpent-like water monster of Greek mythology. It originally had nine heads that would replace each other in the same manner as the Hydra in Hercules, and was killed by Hercules as the second part of his Twelve Labors after The Nemean Lion.
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Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for Philoctetes, cited Grumpy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Bacchus in Fantasia (1940) as the inspirations for the character's design.
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Currently this is the only Disney Animated Feature Film released in the 1990s and of the Renaissance Era to not have any Sequels, Prequels or Midquels (not counting The Rescuers Down Under (1990) which itself is a Sequel to The Rescuers (1977)). Although a sequel was planned starring the children of Hercules and Meg, which was scrapped along with many other sequels after John Lasseter became CEO of both Disney and Pixar.
Danny DeVito declined to audition for Phil, so Edward Asner, Ernest Borgnine, and Dick Latessa were brought in to read for the part. After Red Buttons had auditioned, he left stating "I know what you're gonna do. You're gonna give this part to Danny Devito!" Shortly after, the directors and producer Alice Dewey Goldstone approached DeVito at a pasta lunch during the filming of Matilda (1996), where DeVito signed on to the role.
According to the Disney Read-Along story of Hercules, the Hydra grew a total of 30 heads. However, the math shows if Hercules removed 1 head and 3 more were added up to 14 times, the result would be 29.
During production, Meg was originally given a ballad titled "I Can't Believe My Heart", but Ken Duncan, the supervising animator of Meg, pointed out the song was out of character for Meg. Alan Menken and David Zippel would later compose "I Won't Say I'm In Love" instead.
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At the Pecs and Flex gift shop near Hercules villa, you can pick up a 30-minute workout scroll called "Buns of Bronze".
In the Greek Myths, the Hydra when one head is cut off, two more grow back, not three as seen in the movie. Also in the Myths, Heracles is the Greek version while Hercules is Roman. The name Heracles is given to him to try and please Hera.
When Phil tells Hercules he always dreamed of training the greatest hero there ever was a star constellation of Hercules appears on the roll of sheet Phil rolls out foreshadowing the end of the film where a constellation of Hercules is created by Zeus.
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"Hades' line "...hey, you, get off my cloud', when telling the Sisters of Fate about Zeus, is part of the chorus off The Rolling Stones'' single, "Get off My Cloud" It is also the very first line in Wu-Tang Clan's single, "Method Man".
When Phil eavesdrops on Hades confronting Meg, the way he sticks his nose on the corner of the wall is similar to how the Seven Dwarfs react when they first meet Snow White, in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
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When Danny DeVito asked directors John Musker and Ron Clements who had in mind to play Hades, they responded by saying they hadn't selected an appropriate actor for the role, yet. In response, DeVito blurted, "Why don't you ask Jack Nicholson?" After DeVito notified Nicholson of the project, the next week, the Walt Disney Studios was willing to pay Nicholson $500,000 for the role, but Nicholson demanded roughly a paycheck of $10-15 million, plus a 50% cut of all the proceeds from Hades merchandise. Unwilling to share merchandising proceeds with the actor, Disney came back with a counter offer that was significantly less than what Nicholson had asked for. Therefore, Nicholson decided to pass on the project.
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Wayne Knight's cameo appearance makes him the second Seinfeld (1989) cast member to do a voice work in an animated Disney film.
Donny Osmond originally auditioned as the speaking voice of the title character, but he was turned down because his voice was considered too deep.
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In the song "Zero to Hero", the line "he could tell you 'What's a Grecian earn?'" is a pun on "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by the English Romantic poet John Keats, published in 1820.
The girls seen scaling Hercules' front gate are the same girls who break in his door and mob him.
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The promotional ads featured Hades saying "Two thumbs way way up". Film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel complained, pointing out that "Two Thumbs Up" is a phrase uniquely invented and trademarked by them, and the use of it in promotional ads implied that the film had received "Two Thumbs Up" when only Ebert gave it a favorable review. Ebert thought the ad was misleading and unfair and asked that the line be removed from the ads (which it was), Siskel quipped that they ought to make it "Two Thumbs Down."
When Pain and Panic bow and cry "We are worms! Worthless worms!" and transform into worms after Hades yells at them for not reminding him of the Fates' arrival, this could be a reference to Wayne's World (1992) where Wayne and Garth bow to Alice Cooper and say, "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"
After Pegasus refuses to give Meg a ride, she says, "I don't think your pinto likes me very much." A pinto is a type of horse. Pinto is also the name of a Ford subcompact car which has received much criticism, so it serves as a negative comment towards Pegasus.
Zeus is voiced by Rip Torn, who is the husband of Geraldine Page, the voice of Madame Medusa in The Rescuers (1977), another Disney animated film released 20 years prior.
Marks the 2nd Fully Animated Film for Danny DeVito, following My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) released 11 years prior. Two of his previous other films that had him doing voice over work (Look Who's Talking Now (1993) and Space Jam (1996)) had been voice acting performances in Live Action films.
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The sound effect used for the Hydra sounds very much like the sounds of the trolls in the movie Willow.
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seems to have a strong hatred for the Goddess of the Night, Hecate, calling her a "witch" at the conference of the Olympians. She in turn wants his throne and steals his power.
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Despite what is implied in the film, Hercules didn't actually give up his immortality, he's simply shown as choosing to remain with Megara. In mythology Hercules was a gatekeeper of Olympus, the divine protector of mankind, as well as being the God of strength, heroes, sports, athletes, health, agriculture, fertility, trade, and oracles. His role as a protector of mankind helps to explain why he chose to remain on earth. Not only that, but several gods in mythology were known to live among mortals, so Disney was making a subtle nod to mythology by making Hercules remain on Earth.
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Megara is essentially a merge between all four of Hercules' wives in the mythology.

She shares her name with Hercules' first wife, the daughter of King Creon, Princess Megara (Who was killed when Hera cursed Hercules), and like Princess Megara, Megara dies, although unlike her namesake.

Like Hercules' second wife, Omphale, in the animated TV series it's revealed that Megara once hired Hercules to help her (Whereas Omphale actually owned him) and began to develop romantic feelings for him, and in the film (Like Omphale) Megara is Hercules' love interest during the 12 Labours, Megara's sense of independence also links her to Omphale.

Like the third wife Deianira, who in mythology was the one who killed Hercules, Megara inadvertently almost causes Hercules' death several times in the film: the first being when she told him about the Hydra, the second when Hades uses Megara to make Hercules give up his strength and the third being when Hercules almost dies in the River of Souls while trying to rescue Meg's soul. Also the first meeting between Meg and Hercules, where he saves her from Nessus, is taken directly from Deianira's mythology.

The trait Megara shares with Hebe, Hercules final and permanent wife, who despite being a goddess, was essentially a servant to the other major gods, is paralleled by the fact that Megara was a servant to Hades.

There's also the fact that like several other mortal brides of gods, in the Disney-verse Megara herself was implied to have become immortal through her marriage to Hercules, due to the fact that there was originally a planned sequel where Hebe, the goddess of youth, was their daughter.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

There are many differences between the film and the original myths. Among them are:
  • 1. Hera wasn't actually Hercules' mother. While Zeus was his father, his mother was a mortal named Alcmene, which made him a demigod. Hercules was conceived when Zeus disguised himself as Alcmene's husband Amphitryon, who was away to fight in a war. Zeus' wife Hera, furious over her husband's adultery, swore vengeance, and bestowed misfortune over Hercules wherever and whenever she could. In the movie, Alcmene and her husband adopt Baby Hercules.
  • 2. The Fates do not share an eye. The Graeae, perpetually old women who helped Perseus find Medusa, shared an eye.
  • 3. Pegasus was created by the blood of Medusa, not clouds (as seen in the film) on Olympus.
  • 4. Zeus did not bestow the underworld on Hades but the two, along with Poseidon, drew lots.
  • 5. In the movie, Hades releases the Titans from a place at the bottom of the ocean, but in the original myth they were banished to Tartarus, which is in the deepest and worst section of the underworld.
  • 6. The Cyclops, although brother to the Titans, was not a Titan.
  • 7. The Titans say Zeus put them there, but Zeus's grandfather Uranus did. Zeus freed the Cyclops along with Giants and creatures called Hundred-Handed Ones, and he was given the gift of thunder and lightning as a token of appreciation.
  • 8. Narcissus is not a Greek God, and therefore would not be on Mount Olympus.
  • 9. Megara was Hercules' first wife, with whom he had children; however, Hera induced a fit of rage and madness in him, during which he killed them all. To repent for these sins, Hercules performed all of his heroic deeds (most of them are seen, mentioned or referred to in the movie). It is his later wife Deianara who Hercules saves from the river guardian Nessos; in revenge, Nessos gives Deianara a poisonous shirt, saying it will make Hercules love her more. Unsuspecting, she later gives him the shirt, believing his love for her is waning. The shirt clings to Hercules' skin and causes him agonizing pains. He builds a funeral pyre and sits on top of it, begging his friends to set it on fire and end his misery. No one can bring himself to do it, except for Philoctetes (who was a man and not a satyr). Upon death, Zeus deifies Hercules and admits him onto Olympus.
Hermes, the Messenger, is shown during the ending of the film playing the keyboard. Paul Shaffer, who provides the voice and inspired the look for Hermes, played the keyboard as his primary instrument on the Late Show with David Letterman (1993).
The movie makes many references to the epic poem of the 12 Labors of Hercules including the mid-movie battle with the Lernaean Hydra (2nd Labor). The Nemean Lion (1st Labor), Erymanthian Boar (4th Labor), Stymphalian Bird (6th Labor) are featured in the 'Zero to Hero' scene, and the capturing of Cerberus (12th Labor) at the end of the film. Phil also mentions the task of cleaning Augean's stables (5th Labor) and retrieving a Girdle from 'some Amazons' (9th Labor) while Hercules was posing for the painter.
After Meg and Hercules go on a date, they are seen walking into a garden-like area. Hercules mentions a play called Oedipus, which is about a man who kills the king of a Greek city, who turns out to be his father, and marries and has children the queen, who is his mother. Hercules then makes the remark, "Man! I thought I had problems.".
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