After the success of the 2019 live-action remake of Disney’s Aladdin (1992), Guy Ritchie is working with the prolific entertainment studio once again. He will be directing another live-action reimagining of another one of Disney’s classics, Hercules (1997).
Disney’s 35th animated feature is a lighthearted, family-friendly adaptation of the Heracles myth, using his Roman name Hercules. At birth, he was taken away from the gods and grew up on Earth as a mortal save for his godlike strength. As a young adult, Hercules discovers that he is the son of Zeus, and undergoes rigorous training to become a true hero and regain his godhood. Hades, the god of the Underworld, seeks to overthrow Zeus and rule the universe and won’t let anyone stand in his way.
Disney’s Live-Action Hercules Lands a Familiar Director
The live-action remake of Hercules (1997) will be produced by Joe and Anthony Russo, under their production company AGBO, known for their work on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Dave Callaham, who previously worked on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, is also set to write the script. Although the film is still in the early stages of development, the Russo brothers have expressed their desire to strike a balance between nostalgia and innovation, in contrast to the previous live-action/photorealistic Disney remakes.
Two Words: Adaptations and Sensibilities
As seen with the alterations made in Aladdin (2019) and Mulan (2020) to be more culturally sensitive (with varying results), it is likely that the Hercules remake will undergo the same. The 1997 animated feature faced controversy from Greeks, with their government going as far as declining its premiere on Pnyx Hill. They were not impressed with artistic liberties regarding Greek history and mythology in the film itself, nor did they approve of appropriating a culturally significant site for profit.
Because many stories in classical mythology often feature questionable content that conflicts with contemporary values, maintaining fidelity to the source material while staying within the G rating could be challenging. If the story of Hercules in the remake is going to be true to the myth, then it will likely require extensive rewrites to the characters’ roles and relationships. Not only were the Olympians all biologically related (with many of them married to each other), but Hera was Hercules’ archenemy and Hades was one of the more benevolent deities.
Besides the scandalous aspects, Greek mythology is also notorious for some family-unfriendly violence. Even in the 1997 Disney version, there is enough content pushing the G rating. Notably, the Hydra battle sequence is a rare instance of blood and gore in a Disney film, complete with on-screen decapitations, only mitigated with the monster’s blood-colored green. Content standards have changed quite a bit since the 1990s, so it remains to be seen if the traditionally animated action translated to live-action will affect the rating.
It is unconfirmed if the live-action reimagining of Hercules will be released in theaters or on Disney+, though the original 1997 version is available on the latter. More information, including the release date, is to be announced.
How do you feel about Hercules (1997) getting the live-action treatment? What will Ritchie bring to this reimagining of a Disney classic? Do you have a favorite Disney remake? Let us know in the comments!