Hercules is a 1997 animated feature, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 27, 1997. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, the film was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. This movie was based on the legendary Greek mythology hero Heracles (known in the film by his Roman name, Hercules), the son of Zeus, in Greek mythology. The storyline also draws inspiration from The Karate Kid, Rocky, Superman: The Movie, and most notably, Hercules in New York.
Though Hercules did not match the financial success of Disney's early-1990s releases, the film made $99 million in revenue in the United States during its theatrical release and $252,700,000 worldwide. The film is part of the Disney Renaissance that started in 1989 and ended in 1999. Hercules was later followed by the direct-to-video prequel Hercules: Zero to Hero, which served as a prequel to Hercules: The Animated Series, a syndicated Disney TV series focusing on Hercules during his time at the Prometheus academy.
Hercules grows up to be a misfit, challenged by his incredible strength and inability to fit in with other people. His adoptive parents Amphitryon and Alcemene finally tell him they found him with the symbol of the gods around his neck. Hercules believes the Gods may have the answers behind his mysterious past and decides to go to the Temple of Zeus. Zeus appears and tells him that he is Hercules' father, and that he must prove himself a true hero before he can join the other gods on Mount Olympus so Hercules takes-off from Zeus' Temple on Pegasus; and decides to follow Zeus' advice and seek out Philoctetes ("Phil" for short), an unhappy satyr of heroes. Phil has failed to train a true hero yet; . Phil decides to take on Hercules as his final attempt.
After completing his training, Hercules, Phil and Pegasus set out to establish Hercules as a Hero. Enroute to the city of Thebes Hercules sees the beautiful Megara, or Meg, as she identifies herself. Meg appears to be a damsel in distress. Meg is being threatened by Nessus, a centaur. A deeply smitten Hercules barely succeeds in rescuing Meg, yet finally he triumphs. Meg thanks him somewhat anemically; saying "...it's been a real slice", and then retreats to the forest. Here it is revealed that she is in cahoots with Hades; it seems she sold her soul to Hades in order to save her former lover's life. Her lover then abandoned and betrayed her, and now Meg must do favours for Hades in order to avoid an eternity in the underworld. When Hades learns that Hercules is alive, he is enraged and plots to murder him again.
When Hercules tries to prove himself a hero at Thebes, despite the initial scorn he is greeted with by the people, Hades sends the Hydra to kill him. After a lengthy battle (which at first involves the chopping-off of heads which regrow and triple in number each time), Hercules finally prevails by using his strength to cut open the Hydra from the inside after he is swallowed by the monster, as well as burying it in a landslide. Hades then sends one monster after another to destroy Hercules, but he defeats them all easily - to the Muses background singing of "Zero to Hero" and "Hercules". Hades grows more and more outraged, as well as extremely abusive towards Pain and Panic with each failure to destroy our Hero. Hercules meanwhile soon becomes a national, multi-million-dollar celebrity as a result of his exploits. Realizing that his plans are jeopardized, Hades sends Meg out to discover Hercules' weaknesses, promising her freedom in return. Hercules is disappointed to learn from his father Zeus that he has yet to become a true hero; just defeating monsters and saving people isn't enough, a true hero is "something more than that". Hercules then spends the day with Meg, who finds herself falling in love again, much to her own cynical amazement. When Hades intervenes, she turns from him, much to his dismay. Meg tells Hades that Hercules has NO weaknesses; but Hades realizes that Meg herself is Hercules' one weakness.
Phil learns of Meg's involvement with Hades and tries to warn Hercules, who ignores Phil and knocks him to the ground in an outrage. Discouraged, Phil leaves for home. Pegasus meanwhile, has been captured and tied-up by Pain and Panic. Hades arrives along with a captured Meg and makes Hercules a deal: If he surrenders his strength for the next twenty-four hours, Meg will remain free of harm. After making the deal, Hades frees the Titans from their prison and sends them to attack Olympus and imprison the other Gods, especially Zeus. One Titan, however, the Cyclops, is sent to kill Hercules. Hercules at first takes an awful beating because he's lost heart after Hades reveals to him Meg's betrayal of him. Meg meanwhile deeply regrets her part in all this mess; and frantically tries to set things right by freeing Pegasus and getting Phil to come back and help Hercules. Phil pep-talks Hercules, and pushes him to "go the distance". Hercules uses his wits to defeat the titan and save the city of Thebes. During the Titan's rampage, a column starts to fall. Hercules was right underneath it, and Meg pushes him away from it. The column falls and ends up mortally injuring Meg. As a result, the deal is broken and Hercules' strength is returned. When Hercules asked Meg why she would risk her life for him, she replies in a cynical but deeply affectionate way, "People always do crazy things when they're in love". Touched, Herc promises Meg that she won't die. Hercules, along with Pegasus, saves Olympus from certain doom and Hades returns to the underworld. Meanwhile, Meg dies of her injuries; her thread of life cut by the Fates.
Hercules arrives in the Underworld and demands for Meg to be revived, but Hades shows him that she is currently trapped in the River Styx, a river of souls where all the dead go. Hades allows Hercules to trade his soul for Meg's, hoping to return Meg's body to the surface of the river before he is killed. Hercules jumps in and as his lifeline is about to be cut by the Fates, his amazing courage and willingness to sacrifice his life for others prove him a true hero, restoring all his godly powers and rendering him immortal (and thus making it impossible for the Fates to cut his life-line). As he successfully returns Meg to the surface, Hades tries to talk his way out of the situation. Hercules punches him, knocking him into the River Styx. The other souls grab Hades and pull him down into the river, from which it will take him a long time (if ever) to escape from, (much to the delight of Pain and Panic). Hercules revives Meg and goes to Olympus, but when Meg's entrance is denied because she is a mortal woman and not an immortal goddess; Hercules chooses to become mortal again and stay on Earth with her. Hercules is acclaimed a hero on Earth and Olympus alike, Zeus creates a constellation in his image and Phil is remembered for being the one to train him. Hercules, Meg, Phil, Pegasus, Amphitryon and Alcemene are all shown happily together on earth at the end; while Zeus and the other Olympians rejoice above.
Hades, voiced by James Woods, is cast as the villain. This idea is similar to that of the Hades of the Marvel Universe, who wanted to overthrow Zeus and was an ambitious, scheming god. In the movie Hades is a fast-talking, manipulative deal maker (who comes across very much like a sleazy Hollywood agent-type, with dialogue like "shmooze"). Hades has a literally fiery temper, he hates his job as lord of the underworld and plots to overthrow Zeus.
Disney took considerable liberties with the "Hercules" myths, because some of the original material and characters were deemed inappropriate for younger viewers by the Disney studio's moral standards, such as Hercules being conceived through a god posing as a mortal woman's husband, and of his stepmother Hera's attempts to kill him. Disney also made use of stereotypes when designing the look of the characters, such as depicting Hercules as a more of a crime-fighting superhero than a god, the gods as laid-back American types, the Moirae as demonic hags (merging them with the Graeae), the Muses as five gospel-singing divas, and the Titans as brutish giants. It has been argued that Disney merely added a new 'version' in the long line of Greek myths, since the old myths often existed in many different versions in different parts of Greece. Gods and heroes could play a totally different role in the same story when told in different city-states.
Due to the name's prominence in Western culture, they went with the Latin Hercules rather than the actual Greek Herakles (Ἡρακλῆς). In the later animated series, the god Dionysus was also portrayed with his Roman name, Bacchus.
The Disney version of Hercules has almost nothing to do with the Heracles myths, and should not be regarded as the actual stories about the mythological hero; rather, it is a spin on the character and the culture of ancient Greece. This is obvious, since ancient Greece is treated like modern day America, e.g. with several American expressions (such as calling Thebes "The Big Olive", and the exclamation "Somebody call IX I I!" when calling for help), and Hercules-merchandising (Herculade, Air Herc, action figures) after he becomes popular. Also, the sexual element of the original greek myths (such as Hercules actually being the son of the womanising God Zeus and Queen Alcemene, but NOT the son of King Amphitryon or the Goddess Hera - who in the original myths hates Hercules, and is his greatest enemy, not Hades). Obviously, such material is not very G-rated, or family friendly in its original form. The film does contain a brief reference to The Twelve Labors and other myths pertaining to the character, however, such as the Erymanthian Boar. At one point, Hercules is shown wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion, who looks exactly like a dead Scar from the earlier Disney Movie The Lion King. In the movie, Hades sends these monsters to him, rather than their being encountered as they are in the myths. Some other Greek myths are appropriated as well. One is the myth of Bellerophon, from which was taken the winged horse Pegasus and the scene where Hercules is swallowed by the Hydra (for Perseus it was the dragon Cetus) and cuts his way out. Another is the myth of Orpheus, who goes to the underworld to try to bring back his love, Eurydice. The most obvious is when Hercules is fighting a titanic battle with the Hydra, a lizard-like monster who regrows three heads for every one severed. According to Apollodorus it regrows two heads instead of three. Many other myths are mentioned, including those of the Argonauts, Pandora's box, the Trojan War and the Gorgons.
Because noted British caricaturist Gerald Scarfe (who contributed the animated segments for the film adaptation of Pink Floyd's album "The Wall") designed the characters, the film has a quirky visual style unusual in recent Disney films.
Hercules 3: The Trojan War will be a 2009 upcoming Canadian CGI-animated direct-to-video sequel based on the 1997 film of the same name. The sequel will be produced by DisneyToon Studios and released on December 15, 2009 by Walt Disney Pictures and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
|Character||English voice actor||French voice actor||Quebec voice actor||German voice actor||Spanish voice actor||Latin American voice actor||Italian voice actor||Japanese voice actor|
|Hercules||Tate Donovan||Emmanuel Garijo||Antoine Durand||Til Schweiger||Sergio Zamora||Ricky Martin||Raoul Bova||Masahiro Matsuoka|
|Phil||Danny DeVito||Patrick Timsit||Luis De Cespedes||Mogens von Gadow||Jordi Vila||Marcos Valdés||Giancarlo Magalli||Ichirō Nagai|
|Hades||James Woods||Dominique Collignon-Maurin||Jean-Luc Montminy||Arne Elsholtz||Pep Antón Muñóz||Rubén Trujillo||Massimo Venturiello||Kyūsaku Shimada|
|Megara||Susan Egan||Mimi Félixine||Céline Bonnier|
Dominique Faure (singing)
|Jasmin Tabatabai||Nuria Mediavilla||Tatiana||Veronica Pivetti||Shizuka Kudō|
|Zeus||Rip Torn||Benoît Allemane||Marcel Sabourin||Wolfgang Dehler||Claudio Rodríguez||Guillermo Romano||Gianni Musy||Genzō Wakayama|
|Hera||Samantha Eggar||Sophie Deschaumes||Élise Bertrand||Viktoria Brams||María Luisa Solá||Beatriz Aguirre||Aurora Cancian|
|Pain||Bobcat Goldthwait||Éric Métayer||Bernard Fortin||Mirco Nontschew||Juan Fernández||Javier Rivero||Andrea Brambilla||Chappu|
|Panic||Matt Frewer||Éric Métayer||François Sasseville||Stefan Jürgens||Pep Sais||Gabriel Cobayassi||Nino Formicola||Pagu|
|Young Hercules||Josh Keaton|
Roger Bart (singing)
Emmanuel Dahl (singing)
Joël Legendre (singing)
|Dominik Auer||Rafael Alonso Naranjo, Jr.|
Ferrán González (singing)
|Víctor Mares, Jr.|
Antonio Benavides (singing)
|Stefano Crescentini||Jun Akiyama|
|Nessus||Jim Cummings||Marc Alfos||Jean Fontaine||Oliver Stritzel||Juan Carlos Gustems||Octavio Rojas|
|Hermes||Paul Shaffer||Patrice Dozier||Sébastien Dhavernas||Joan Pera||Moisés Palacios|
|Amphitryon||Hal Holbrook||Jean Lescaut||Aubert Pallascio||Goffredo Matassi|
|Alcmene||Barbara Barrie||Rosine Cadoret||Élizabeth Lesieur||Franca Lumachi|
|Clotho||Amanda Plummer||Colette Venhard|
|Lachesis||Carole Shelley||Jacqueline Staup|
|Atropos||Paddi Edwards||Perrette Pradier||Masako Isobe|
|Apollo||Keith David||Jacques Lavallée|
|Calliope, Muse of Epics||Lillias White||Mimi Félixine||Mercedes Montalá|
Susan Martín (singing)
Vicky Gutiérrez (singing)
|Clio, Muse of History||Vanéese Y. Thomas||Norma Ray||María Caneda||Blanca Flores||Paola Folli|
|Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy||Cheryl Freeman||Jessica Parkers||Paula Bas||Ruth Howard||Paola Repere|
|Terpsichore, Muse of Dance||LaChanze||Debbie Davis||Mary Lou Gauthier||Cani González||Mirna Garza||Lola Feghaly|
|Thalia, Muse of Comedy||Roz Ryan||Assitan Dembele||Helen Quiroga||María del Sol||Lalla Francia|
|The Narrator||Charlton Heston||Jean Davy||Vincent Davy||Paco Hernández||Carlos Magaña||Hisaya Morishige|
|Demetrius the Pottery Salesman||Wayne Knight||Said Amadis||André Montmorency|
|Directed by|| John Musker|
|Produced by|| John Musker|
|Written by|| John Musker|
|Songs by|| Alan Menken|
|Original Score by||Alan Menken|
|Associate Producer|| Kendra Haaland|
|Art Director|| Andy Gaskill|
|Production Designer|| Gerald Scarfe|
|Film Editor|| Tom Finan|
|Artistic Supervisors|| Barry Johnson (Story supervisor)|
Rasoul Azadani (Layout supervisor)
Thomas Cardone (Background supervisor)
Nancy Kniep (Clean-up supervisor)
Mauro Maressa (Effects supervisor)
Roger L. Gould (Computer Graphics supervisor)
|Artistic Coordinator|| Dan Hansen|
|Supervising Animator|| Andreas Deja (Adult Hercules)|
Randy Haycock (Young & Baby Hercules)
Eric Goldberg (Phil)
Nik Ranieri (Hades)
Ken Duncan (Meg)
Ellen Woodbury (Pegasus)
Anthony DeRosa (Zeus & Hera)
James Lopez (Pain)
Brian Ferguson (Panic)
Michael Show (The Muses)
Dominique Monfrey (Titans & Cyclops)
Richard Bazley (Alcmene & Amphitryon)
Nancy Beiman (The Fates/Thebans)
Oskar Urretabizkaia (Hydra)
|Production Manager||Peter Del Vecho|
The film didn't receive a wide release until its third weekend when the film opened in second place grossing $21 million. The film saw a sharp decline in later weekends, much like its predecessor, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but grossed $99 million in the United States and $153 million in foreign countries with $252 million.
|Nominated||Animated Theatrical Feature|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Producing|| Alice Dewey (Producer)|
John Musker (Producer)
Ron Clements (Producer)
|Won||Individual Achievement in Directing|| John Musker (Director)|
Ron Clements (Director)
|Nominated||Individual Achievement in Character Animation||Ken Duncan (Supervising Animator - Meg)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Character Animation||Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator - Hades)|
|Won||Individual Achievement in Effects Animation||Mauro Maressa (Effects Supervisor)|