Popular entertainment has not been kind to the Hercules myth. Ancient Greek’s most beloved demigod has long been the lovable, brainless, joke buffoon of popular entertainment. From the juggling strong man Hercules of the circus to television’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and cinema’s animated Hercules from Disney. The sell of Hercules has long been that he’s big, dumb and fun. But in Ancient Greece and Rome, he was a dichotic character comprised of hero worship and unbearable tragedy. Whilst he was the heroic figure of the twelve labours, a champion and inventor of the Olympic Games, he was also a vicious barbarian and child-killer, who slaughtered his own family in a God-driven blind frenzy. He was also originally called Heracles. Hercules is the adapted Roman name.
But the Hercules that most people know today is the cheesy Hercules portrayed in popular entertainment: The Kevin Sorbet hunk-a-Hercules, the Disney ‘zero to hero Herc’ and even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s ‘Nice chariot, but vhere’s yor horses?’ ancient demi-god stuck in the big apple, Hercules in New York. How then, do you present a version of Hercules that is closer to the myths but will also please fans of Hercules’ pop culture history?
Of all the possible people, Brett Ratner and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson seem to have provided somewhat of an answer: You compromise.