Released in 1997, Disney’s Hercules was the eighth film to be released in what many consider Disney’s Renaissance. With the launch of Disney+ families now watch Hercules streaming. Overall, it was the 35th animated film to be released by Disney and is loosely based on Greek and Roman mythology. The film was created as a response to critics’ response to two previous releases, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pocahontas, which many critics felt dealt with themes and subject matter that was too dark for children.
As a result, the creators of Hercules tried to keep it lighter in theme and in the character arcs. In fact, two producers, Ron Clements and John Musker, who would also direct, are said to have drawn heavily on comedies of the 1940s and 1950s for inspiration.
The film starred Tate Donovan and James Woods, and was nominated for 15 awards; you can watch Hercules online. Despite the critical response, however, the film didn’t fare well at the box office and was blamed for a fall in Disney’s stock price when the two-week box office total only reached $58 million. Still, fans of the film have helped it earn-out over time and to date, Hercules is credited with $258 million in box office earnings. Here’s how to stream Hercules right now:
How to Stream Hercules – Exclusively on Disney+
Hercules is one of the fan-favorite Disney movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream Hercules and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Hercules”
- 5. Tap on “Hercules”
- 6. Tap the PLAY button
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
Release Date: June 15, 1997
Creators: Ron Clements, John Musker, Donald McEnerny, Bob Shaw, Irene Mecchi
Director: Ron Clements and John Musker
Starring: Tate Donovan, Danny DeVito, James Woods, Susan Egan
Synopsis:As a baby, Hercules is stripped of his immortality despite being the son of Zeus and Hera. He must prove he is a true hero in order to reclaim his immortality.
How Long Is Hercules?
Hercules has a running time of 93 minutes.
After imprisoning the Titans beneath the ocean, Greek gods Zeus and Hera have a son, Hercules. Zeus’ brother, Hades, is very jealous and plots to have Hercules killed because with Hercules out of the way he’ll be able to free the Titans and thus overthrow Zeus’ rule.
He manages to have Hercules kidnapped and upon taking Hercules’ immortality through a special formula. He can’t, however, take his strength because an old couple appears and take the boy in. As a teen, Hercules becomes an outcast because of his strength. He goes to the Temple of Zeus to find answers about himself and in the temple the statue of Zeus comes to life, telling him who he really is. He tells Hercules he must prove he is a true hero and sends him to train with Philoctetes, ‘Phil’. Phil doesn’t believe Hercules’ story but trains him anyway. They go to Thebes as a test run for Hercules but on the way there meet a woman, Megara, who calls herself Meg. Hercules saves Meg from a centaur and begins to fall in love with her, but Meg is secretly working for Hades after having her heartbroken. In Thebes, Hercules is set to help people but Meg comes along, telling him about two boys who are trapped. The boys are Hades’ minions, Pain and Panic, who originally kidnapped Hercules.
They release the Hydra, who is defeated by Hercules, but this isn’t enough to set him apart as a true hero. Frustrated, Hercules goes to Meg and the two fall in love. Hades takes Meg hostage to force Hercules to give up his super-strength. Hercules agrees to give up his powers for a day, which Hades uses to release the Titans. Hercules learns Meg has been working for Hades, and she tries to explain things, but Hercules is heartbroken. The Titans capture the gods on Olympus and Cyclops comes after Hercules, but is defeated by him. In their fight, Meg is injured, which returns Hercules’ strength because Hades had promised Meg wouldn’t be harmed. Hercules sets the gods free and they vanquish the Titans, but Meg dies. Hercules goes to the Underworld, hoping to free Meg. Hades says he has to swim the River Styx and Hercules agrees, but the river begins to take his strength.
Determined to save Meg, Hercules keeps trying, and this proves he is a true hero. He rescues Meg and pushes Hades into the river where the cursed souls pull him under. Hercules and Meg go to Olympus but Hercules doesn’t want to leave Meg. Zeus allows him to remain human and in return puts a star formation into the sky to commemorate Hercules.
Several big Hollywood names lent their voices to the Hercules cast including Hal Holbrook, Charlton Heston and Bobcat Goldthwait. Here are the main cast members for the film:
Tate Donovan as Hercules
Hercules dreams of being more than a farmer, and when given the chance to become a hero he jumps at it. But is he strong enough to be a true hero? Actor Tate Donovan has appeared in more than 100 films and TV series, and is an Emmy award winner for his part in the 30 for 30 series of documentaries. In addition, he is known for his roles in the TV series Friends and MacGyver, and films including Shooter and Love Potion #9.
Danny DeVito as Phil
Phil has always dreamed of training a hero but he doesn’t believe Hercules can really be a hero. Danny Devito is an award-winning actor and comedien best known for films like Matilda, The War of the Roses, and the rebooted Jumanji films.
Susan Egan as Megara
Meg is broken-hearted and afraid to fall in love again when she falls in with Hades’ plan to rid the world of Hercules. Susan Egan has reprised the role of Meg throughout the Hercules franchise, including the video game series Kingdom Hearts, and Hercules: The Animated Series. In addition she has appeared in Steven Universe, 13 Going on 30, and Modern Family.
James Woods as Hades
Hades wants to send Hercules to the Underworld and to unleash the Titans on Olympus. James Woods is an award-winning actor who has appeared in more than 140 films and TV series. Some of his most notable roles include Ghosts of Mississippi and Salvador, which both netted him Academy Award nominations, The General’s Daughter, and Straight Talk.
Rip Torn as Zeus
Zeus is Hercules’ father, and he wants him to become a god, but knowns Hercules must first prove he is worthy. Rip Torn is an award-winning actor who has appeared in more than 190 films and TV series over the course of his career. Some of his best known roles include the TV series 30 Rock, the mini-series The Blue and the Gray, and films like Flashpoint, Mannix, and King of Kings.
Charlton Heston as Narrator
Charlton Heston voiced the narrator’s role for Hercules. He is an Academy Award-winning actor who is best known for his roles in Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, and the original Planet of the Apes franchise.
Hercules Songs and Soundtrack
The song Go the Distance, which was Hercules’ theme for the film, was nominated for two major awards: an Academy Award, for Best Original Song, and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song-Motion Picture. Alan Menken and David Zippel would collaborate on music and lyrics for the film, and Michael Bolton was tapped to sing Go The Distance for the soundtrack.
Hercules at the Box Office
Hopes were high for Hercules within Disney, and while the film wasn’t a failure it didn’t perform as highly as the company would have liked. The budget for the film was $85 million, and during the initial box office run the film would only earn out $58 million in the first two weeks, significantly lower than previous releases. There was a lot of competition at the box office that summer and the film weren’t geared toward the tween/teen and young adult audience like previous films, causing a lackluster performance. Still, the film would bring in $99 million by the following spring and to date has earned about $253 million for the studio.
Hercules Reviews – What the Critics Said
Critics raved about the film, Hercules, keying in on the delivery and style of James Woods as the villainous Hades. Rotten Tomatoes rates the film at an 84% approval rating and CinemaScore gives it an A.
Where Hercules Fits in the Disney Movie Pantheon
Hercules was nominated for 15 awards and would win nine, including 4 Annie awards and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award. The song Go the Distance was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. It was the eighth film to release in what is known as Disney’s Renaissance period, which began with the release of The Little Mermaid. While it was a hit with critics, the movie didn’t perform as well as Disney would have liked at the box office. This didn’t stop the company from franchising the film with a prequel and an animated series, which have each fared well. A live-action remake has been announced by Disney but no firm details are available yet.
Hercules Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
Disney drew heavily on both Greek and Roman myths in their development of Hercules, and some say the character of Meg is actually a composite of Hercules’ four wives from the original myths. Here are five fast facts about the production of Hercules:
1. Hercules Draws on Myth, not Fairy Tale
While most Disney animated films draw on fairy tales for their inspiration, Hercules was the first to be completely inspired by mythology. Fantasia did draw on some mythical elements, but only in one segment. Hercules drew on both Greek and Roman myths.
2. Woods says Hercules is a Favorite
Actor James Woods, who voiced Hades, has said that Hades is one of his all-time favorites. His rapid-fire line delivery changed how the producers envisioned the character, who was originally supposed to be slow and menacing. Woods has reprised the role for several cartoon appearances and throughout the video game series Kingdom Hearts.
3. The Muses Sing Kiss the Girl
One of the big songs from Hercules is Meg’s “I Won’t Say (I’m in Love)”, which has appeared on Disney soundtracks and their sing-along-songs DVDs. In the film, near the end of Meg’s song, you can hear the Muses singing the ‘sha-la-la-la-la’ tune from Sebastian’s “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid.
4. Animators use CGI for Hydra
In the film, the Hydra monster had 30 heads. This would have been very hard to draw as simple animation, running up costs and taking a long time to complete. Instead, the animators used CGI to render the full monster. The rest of the film, however, is hand-drawn animation, as Disney is known to do.
5. Hades didn’t die
Hercules was able to throw Hades into the River Styx, however, Hades didn’t die. This means he could find a way out of his fate, and it makes him only the second Disney Renaissance villain to not die at the end of his movie. The other is Governor Ratcliffe, from Pocahontas. Many include Jafar from Aladdin as a villain who dies, but Jafar doesn’t die in the first Aladdin movie. He dies in the sequel.