Mythology to the Big Screen
By Franco Hernandez
Great stories are often retold. Legends of old become refreshed with familiar or soon be familiar faces from Hollywood. History laid down many years ago have become material to fatten the pockets of studio elites. This is not a rant about rehashes of popular fictional stories though. It is another look at mythological stories of which bear great weight in the collective mind space. Some films I want to look at are Marvel’s adaptation of Thor and Disney’s adaptation of Hercules.
For Thor, the number of solo movies under his belt is three. If you decide to count the number of films he shows up within the Marvel Cinematic Universe is up to six so far if you include visual showings and after credit scenes. Before his latest showing in Ragnarok, the hero has mostly been a formal beef cake who made funny one-liners. You would usually see him with his trusty hammer, a red flowing cape, and blond locks that just seem to get longer.
There are some differences though to how Thor is usually portrayed in media compared to some mythos about him. One of those is his love interest being changed from Sif, friend and war-goddess, to Jane Foster, scientist Natalie Portman. Did you know that Thor has goat servants that he eats and resurrects? He is also described to have red hair versus blond hair. Most of these changes have been to have a connection to Thor or to be more palatable to a general audience.
As for Hercules, the Greek hero’s stories have been adapted many times. From three movies in 2014 to one as early as 1933, Hercules shows up in films constantly. The one I want to focus on though is the one done by Disney Pictures. The Disney adaptation of Hercules grows up throughout the film going from zero to hero, learning his parentage, and accepting his mortal side. He displays superhuman strength, is mentored by a satyr, and has a Pegasus.
This is contrasted to how Hercules is depicted originally. Did you know that in Greek he was called Heracles after the goddess despite not being her real son? The mentor that teaches Hercules is named Philoctetes is not a satyr in legend and was just Hercules’ friend. The Pegasus that Hercules has in the Disney movie is not something that mythological Hercules ever had. The super strength power does remain intact though. The adaptation made a lot of liberal choices to make it appealing such as a pet character and comedic relief with the familiar name Phil. While fun, both Thor and Hercules’ movies make drastic changes to be appealing to the general audience.
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