Hercules in popular culture
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Hercules (Greek Heracles) is a mythological hero known for his strength and far-ranging adventures. He is one of the most commonly portrayed figures from classical mythology in the popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. For earlier cultural depictions, see Hercules.
A series of nineteen Italian Hercules movies of the "Sword and sandal" film genre were made in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The first and most successful of these was Hercules, starring Steve Reeves. Other actors who played Hercules in these films were Gordon Scott, Kirk Morris, Mickey Hargitay, Mark Forest, Alan Steel, Dan Vadis, Brad Harris, Reg Park, Peter Lupus (billed as Rock Stevens) and Michael Lane. The films are listed below by their American release titles, and the titles in parentheses are the original Italian titles with English translation.
- Hercules (Le Fatiche di Ercole / The Labors of Hercules, 1957) starring Steve Reeves
- Hercules Unchained (Ercole e la regina di Lidia / Hercules and the Queen of Lydia, 1959) starring Steve Reeves
- Goliath and the Dragon (La Vendetta di Ercole / The Revenge of Hercules, 1960) (this Hercules film had its title character changed to Goliath when it was distributed in the U.S.)
- The Loves of Hercules (Gli Amori di Ercole / The Loves of Hercules, 1960) a.k.a. Hercules vs the Hydra, co-starring Mickey Hargitay & Jayne Mansfield
- Hercules and the Captive Women (Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide / Hercules at the Conquest of Atlantis, 1961) starring Reg Park (alternate U.S. title: Hercules and the Haunted Women)
- Hercules in the Haunted World (Ercole al centro della terra / Hercules at the Center of the Earth) 1961 (directed by Mario Bava) starring Reg Park
- Hercules in the Vale of Woe (Maciste contro Ercole nella valle dei guai / Maciste vs Hercules in the Vale of Woe) a peplum satire starring Frank Gordon as Hercules, 1961
- Ulysses vs the Son of Hercules (Ulisse contro Ercole / Ulysses vs Hercules) starring Mike Lane as Hercules, 1962 (Hercules inexplicably became a "Son of Hercules" in the English-dubbed version)
- The Fury of Hercules (La Furia di Ercole / The Fury of Hercules) starring Brad Harris, 1962 (alternate U.S. title: The Fury of Samson)
- Hercules, Samson and Ulysses (Ercole sfida Sansone / Hercules Challenges Samson) starring Kirk Morris as Hercules, 1963
- Hercules vs the Moloch (Ercole contro Molock / Hercules vs Moloch) starring Gordon Scott, 1963 (a.k.a. The Conquest of Mycene)
- Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness (Ercole l'invincibile / Hercules the Invincible) starring Dan Vadis, 1964 (Hercules inexplicably became a "Son of Hercules" in the English-dubbed version)
- Hercules vs the Giant Warrior (il Trionfo di Ercole / The Triumph of Hercules) starring Dan Vadis, 1964 (alternate U.S. title: Hercules and the Ten Avengers)
- Hercules Against Rome (Ercole contro Roma) starring Alan Steel, 1964
- Hercules Against the Sons of the Sun (Ercole contro i figli del sole) starring Mark Forest, 1964
- Hercules and the Tyrants of Babylon (Ercole contro i tiranni di Babilonia) starring Rock Stevens, 1964
- Samson and His Mighty Challenge (Ercole, Sansone, Maciste e Ursus: gli invincibili / Hercules, Samson, Maciste and Ursus: The Invincibles) starring Alan Steel as Hercules, 1964 (a.k.a. Combate dei Gigantes or Le Grand Defi)
- Hercules and the Princess of Troy (No Italian title) starring Gordon Scott, 1965 (a.k.a. Hercules vs the Sea Monster) --- This U.S./ Italian co-production was made as a pilot for a Charles Band-produced TV series that never materialized & it was later distributed as a feature film.
- Hercules, the Avenger (Sfida dei giganti / Challenge of the Giants) starring Reg Park, 1965 (This film was composed mostly of re-edited footage from the two 1961 Reg Park Hercules films.)
A number of English-dubbed Italian films that featured the Hercules name in their title were never intended to be Hercules movies by their Italian creators.
- Hercules Against the Moon Men, Hercules Against the Barbarians, Hercules Against the Mongols and Hercules of the Desert were all originally Maciste films in Italy. (See "Maciste" section below)
- Hercules and the Black Pirate and Hercules and the Treasure of the Incas were both originally Samson movies in Italy. (See "Samson" section below)
- Hercules, Prisoner of Evil was originally an Ursus film in Italy. (See "Ursus" section below)
- Hercules and the Masked Rider was actually originally a Goliath movie in Italy. (See "Goliath" section below)
None of these films in their original Italian versions involved the Hercules character in any way. Likewise, most of the Sons of Hercules movies shown on American TV in the 1960s had nothing to do with Hercules in their original Italian versions.
- The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962), American comedy with the Three Stooges and Samson Burke playing Hercules.
- Jason and the Argonauts (1963), with Hercules as a member of crew of the Argo, searching for the golden fleece but leaving before they get there.
- Hercules in New York (1970), with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Hercules (1983) and its sequel The Adventures of Hercules (1985) with Lou Ferrigno as the title character.
- Hercules (1997), American animated feature, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation.
- The Amazing Feats of Young Hercules (1997), in which Hercules must complete four feats of heroism with his weasel companion Falina.
- Jason and the Argonauts (2000), in which Hercules (Brian Thompson) travels all the way to Colchis with the Argonauts.
- Little Hercules (2009), Little Hercules travels from Mt. Olympus to live life as a mortal in Los Angeles played by Richard Sandrak.
- Immortals (2011), in which Heracles is played as one of the Olympian gods by Steve Byers, but is killed by the Titans.
- Hercules (2014), directed by Brett Ratner and played by Dwayne Johnson.
- Hercules: The Legend Begins (2014), directed by Renny Harlin and played by Kellan Lutz.
- The Mighty Hercules, an animated series produced in 1963 by Adventure Cartoon Productions in connection with Trans-Lux Television.
- The Sons of Hercules, a 1970s television series
- Hercules (1995), based upon Hercules's fulfillment of the twelve labours.
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, a TV series and several made-for-television movies in 1995–1999 starring Kevin Sorbo.
- Hercules: The Animated Series, a TV series based upon the 1997 Disney film.
- Young Hercules, a spin-off of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys which aired on Fox Kids from September 12, 1998 to May 12, 1999, starring Ryan Gosling.
- Hercules (TV miniseries), a 2005 television mini-series done by Hallmark Entertainment.
- Hercules is the mentor and ancestor of Herry Hercules from Class of the Titans.
- Hercules appears in the BBC One series Atlantis where he is portrayed by Mark Addy.
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, based upon the TV series Released to Nintendo 64. The game pits Hercules against his evil half-brother Ares, loosely based on the TV series.
- Disney's Hercules, based on the animated film.
- Herc's Adventures is a tongue-in-cheek adventure-role-playing video game on the PlayStation where you must complete many tasks, many of which are not actually credited to Hercules anywhere else (such as slaying Medusa).
- Heracles: Battle with the Gods is a Nintendo DS & PlayStation 2 game where he must free Pegasus from the clutches of his uncle the evil god Poseidon.
- Hercules is the title character of the Hercules no Eikō series
- Hercules (as Heracles) is a hero character in Age of Mythology and Age of Empires: Mythologies for the Nintendo DS.
- Empire Earth features a character named Hierakles in the first mission of the Greek campaign, where he is the chieftain of an Anatolian tribe who must lead his people to Thessaly before the winter season sets in.
- DragonFable by Artix Entertainment features a parody of the 12 labours in the form of a quest chain set by a chicken/cow god named Zeuster.
- Rise of the Argonauts, a video game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Hercules appears as one of Jason's Argonauts during the game, as a NPC party character.
- God of War III, Hercules is a boss and half-brother of the main character Kratos. He is portrayed as sinister and jealous of Kratos, possibly a result of being infected by the evils of Pandora's Box, believing Kratos was Zeus' favored son. Hercules fights Kratos to claim the throne as God of War, which was left vacant after Zeus stripped Kratos of his powers, declaring it his thirteenth unofficial and final labour. Kratos, however, kills him and acquires the Nemean Cestus, a pair of fist gauntlets that Hercules acquired from the Nemean Lion. He was voiced by Kevin Sorbo, who "reprised" the role from Hercules: the Legendary Journeys.
- Glory of Heracles, a video game for the Nintendo DS, in which you play a boy who lost his memories but is believed to be Heracles. Along his journey, he finds that others have also lost their memories and also believes they are Heracles. The game's story plot does not reflect the actual story of the mythology.
- The Return of Hercules is a video game designed by Stuart Smith and released for Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64 computers. It is a turn-based adventure/rpg designed around the Twelve Labours of Heracles, though you could play as any or all of several characters including Pegasus and Achilles. Its design is similar to Smith's earlier game Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
- In the Japanese visual novel Fate/stay night as well as its anime adaptation, Hercules appears as one of seven heroic spirits summoned to fight in the Holy Grail War. He has twelve lives to represent the twelve labors he underwent for immortality.
In the book The Titan's Curse in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, it is shown that Hercules got most of his help with the getting the Golden Apples from Zoe Nightshade, one of the Hunters of Artemis and a former Hesperid. Here, he is shown in a negative aspect, giving her no credit in the myths and leaving her to the wrath of her siblings and father alone. This is what started Zoe's hatred of heroes and men. She later states Percy Jackson is not like Hercules as she dies, and says she is honored that he wields the sword she crafted, Riptide.
- Hercules (a 1958 Dell comic adapting the film)
- Hercules Unchained (a 1959 Dell comic adapting the Steve Reeves film)
- Hercules (Marvel Comics)
- Hercules (DC Comics)
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (released by Topps Comics)