Hercules in popular culture

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U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt depicted as the infant Hercules grappling with the Standard Oil Company

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.


Italian, 1950s–60s[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Sword and sandal § Hercules series (1957–1965).

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.

Other films[edit]


Video games and pinball[edit]


Comic books[edit]

Main article: Hercules (comics)


  1. ^ http://ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=1155

See also[edit]