How a Mad Killer Became a Disney Hero

The mythical Twelve Labors of Hercules were used as inspiration for Hercules’ heroics in the Disney movie. Source 

Pegasus the Flying Horse

At first glance, Disney’s Hercules does stray quite a lot from the “original” myth.

A scene from the movie Hercules (1997): Zeus creates Pegasus.

Creative Liberties

Another example is the childhood of the young hero. In the movie, Hercules is left on a mountainside to be found by two farmers, who then raise him. Whoever thinks this tale sounds recognizable would be correct, since it’s similar to what happened to another famous character of Greek mythology: Oedipus. Oedipus’ mother ordered a servant to leave her baby on a mountainside, but the child was instead given to a shepherd.

Great Artists Steal

Similarly, other story elements were borrowed from mythology, presumably to make the story more exciting or appropriate.

A scene from the movie Hercules (1997): Hercules confronting Hades in the underworld.

Make Your Own Hercules

By splicing together these different story beats from the canon of Greek mythology, Disney’s approach to storytelling is remarkably similar to the working methods of the ancient Greeks. After all, Greek storytellers took creative liberties all the time.