Disney's Hercules the movie - How accurate is it?

In honor of the anniversary of one of our favorite Walt Disney Animation movies from Disney's second Golden Age, we thought we would dive into the mythology of the Greek story of Hercules and compare it to the movie we love so much. How accurate is the movie to the original story? Truth be told, almost not at all. But, kind of for good reason. A lot of the original story has some pretty dark moments, and if we know Disney, we know they're not going to dive headfirst into a dark tale if they can find a way to make it at least quantifiably more family-friendly. However, it's not really as simple as that, as nothing ever really is, so we're going to take a deep dive and report to you the similarities and utter differences between the original story and Disney's Hercules - let's get started!

Early Life

Right off the bat, from the beginning of the film, Disney begins with creative liberties. Although, as we mentioned, they're not particularly unnecessary because, to put it lightly, Hercules (the original) was "born out of wedlock" to his father Zeus and another woman, Alcmena, who was not Zeus' wife at the time. Understandably, Disney removes the adultery from the story and instead makes Hera the birth mother of Hercules. In the original story of Hercules, his birth mother is Alcmena, and Hera has a vendetta against him for that; she is the actual antagonist in the original story, not Hades.
Baby Hercules and Baby Pegasus © Disney

Remember Pegasus? How could you forget! Well, he's not really the winged horse that you remember from the movie. I mean, he is in the movie, but in the original story, he's actually the offspring of Poseidon and Medusa, and get this: he's not even a part of the Hercules story! We'll choose to completely ignore this and live our truth; Herc and Pegasus are too awesome together to imagine it any other way!

As the Story Picks Up

So, one thing that actually, sort of, somewhat falls in line with the original story is that Hades is the lord of the Underworld. However, that's where it falls off. Hades is not evil in the original story, although "death" is considered evil, he's actually widely loved by the remaining residents of Olympus. In the movie, he's the evilest being in the entire world...

Phil, Meg, and some of the other background characters like Penelope (the mule) and Phidias the potter, really didn't exist in the story of Hercules in remotely the same capacity they did in the movie. For instance, based on the timeline, Phil wasn't even around when Hercules was, because Hercules was actually an Argonaut. Meg, in the original story, is actually the wife of Hercules for a short time, but their story does not exist in the same capacity and we're not even going to mention how things went down with those two. 

Later On, and The End of the Story

Throughout Herc's tenure as a super-awesome dude, he completes his Labours and has to fight the Titans, but in the original story, it really doesn't go that way at all. There's a lot to cover here, so we're just going to leave it at: Hercules doesn't actually fight most of the evil-doers that he claims (or, is seen) to fight in the movie. 

Hercules, in the original tale, dies by poison and as his body is burned in the pyre for a funeral, he achieves immortality. Disney does right by the young'ns with this one and avoids that tragic ending, by instead having him jump into the river of the dead to save Meg's soul, in turn proving his immortality. However, Disney does get the next part right, in that he returns to Olympus, but in the original story he actually doesn't renounce his immortality and instead stays there for a life of immortality.

This was a tough blog to write, that's for sure, but it was certainly interesting to learn! We hope you enjoyed it, too!

Hope you have a Magical day! 


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