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CHARACTER CORNER: Hercules

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

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Disney's animated film "Hercules," released in 1997, provides a whimsical and musical retelling of the Hercules myth, albeit with significant departures from the original Greek legends.



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Hercules is the son of Zeus and Hera, the king and queen of the gods. As an infant, he is kidnapped by Hades' minions, Pain and Panic, who feed him a potion to make him mortal. They aim to kill him so he won't grow up to thwart Hades' plan to take over Mount Olympus. However, they are interrupted before Hercules finishes the last drop of the potion, which leaves him with his god-like strength but without his immortality.



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After the failed assassination attempt, Hercules is found and adopted by a mortal couple, Amphitryon and Alcmene. Unaware of his true lineage, Hercules grows up feeling out of place due to his immense strength, which often causes accidental havoc in their village.

Upon learning of his true origins from his adoptive parents, Hercules sets out to discover how he can become a true hero and regain his place among the gods. Guided by the satyr Philoctetes (or "Phil"), Hercules is trained to become a hero.



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On his journey, Hercules meets and falls in love with Megara (often referred to as Meg). Unbeknownst to him, Meg is initially working for Hades, the antagonist of the story. As the story progresses, Meg's loyalties are tested, and her backstory reveals a complicated relationship with the underworld. Hercules faces numerous challenges and monsters, like the Hydra, as he attempts to establish himself as a true hero in the eyes of the public and the gods. His heroics become legendary, and he is celebrated throughout Greece. Hades, the god of the Underworld, plans to overthrow Zeus and take control of Mount Olympus. He sees Hercules as the main obstacle in his path. Hades constantly plots and schemes to get rid of Hercules and uses Meg as a pawn in his game.

In the climax of the movie, Hercules must choose between saving his own life or Meg's. His selfless act of bravery and sacrifice for the sake of love proves him to be a "true hero," fulfilling the prophecy and thwarting Hades' plan. After proving his worth, Hercules is offered a place among the gods on Mount Olympus. However, realizing that his heart belongs with Meg and that his true place is on Earth with the ones he loves, he decides to remain mortal.

Hercules is certainly a complex character. Some of his character traits are:

  • Naive and Idealistic: As a young man, Hercules is somewhat gullible and sees the world in a straightforward manner.

  • Determined: Throughout the film, Hercules shows a determination to find his place in the world and become a true hero.

  • Brave: Despite facing numerous monsters and challenges, Hercules doesn't back down.

  • Loyal and Loving: His love for Meg and his loyalty to his friends are key aspects of his character.



The movie also features catchy songs such as "Go the Distance" and "Zero to Hero," which help to tell Hercules' story in an engaging and memorable way. Hercules's journey to explore themes of heroism, self-worth, and the realization that true heroism is not just about physical feats but also about the strength of one's character and the choices one makes.



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