Genius Bonus: In Ancient Greece, bards would typically recite epic poems orally. At the beginning of epic poems, the bard would usually request that a muse sing for him in order to tell a more "accurate" story. Examples of such a request is seen at the beginnings of The Iliad and The Odyssey; muses were considered the true speakers of the tale and the bard just the mouthpiece. At the beginning of Hercules the narrator is interrupted by the muses who proceed to sing the tale in his place.
The changing of the Titans' beings doesn't make much sense at first; until you look at them as the stages that the Earth went through before civilization popped up.
The thunderstorm during Hercules' battle with the Hydra seems really random and conveniently thematic; then you remember that Zeus controls thunder and lightning, which means he must be watching from 'upstairs' and is worried for Herc's safety.
The prophecy told by the Fates was that, "should Hercules fight," Hades would fail. When Pain and Panic are interrupted while they're poisoning Hercules as a baby, Hercules fights them off and survives - Hades' fate had already been decided in the first few minutes of the movie!
Hercules, after slicing his way out of the Hydra's throat, briefly is woozy and is seeing triple. That joke about "How many horns do you see" may as well be a Five-Second Foreshadowing, as moments later the Hydra sprouts three new heads where it lost just one!
For all the changes they made, Disney kept all of Herc's central character traits— Hair-Trigger Temper, impulsive nature, tendency to devote himself utterly—and they're what drives the plot in the end.
Hercules' abilities were surprising cunning for someone you wouldn't expect it from (just see how he cleaned the Augean Stables or made a fool of Atlas) and being so strong to go Beyond the Impossible and defeat death. We see him proving his cunning against the Hydra (how do you kill a monster that regenerates every time you cut its head? You squash it) and the Cyclops (Herc had been Brought Down to Normal, yet he managed to win by outsmarting him), he proves the ability to defeat death when he survives what should have killed him and revives Megara, and for the ability to go Beyond the Impossible... The Titans were gods, thus immortal (hence why Zeus imprisoned them), yet Hercules killed them. And that's without going with the whole thing of writing his own fate...
Hercules killing the Titans actually has a root in Greek mythology: the war against the Giants established that gods (such as the Giants) can be killed if attacked by mortals and gods at the same time... And Hercules, being a god who was turned into mortal but still has a spark of divinity, counts as both, even without being helped by Zeus in the fight. Bonus point for the mythological Herakles being the leader of the army of mortals that assisted the Olympians against the Giants.
Interestingly, the Titans seem to know this: they didn't react much when Hercules freed the other Olympians, as they had already mopped the floor with them, but reacted with horror and turned tail the moment Zeus was free and got his hands on lightnings as they knew from experience that Zeus could wound them, what with having already been defeated by him once and him single-handedly holding the line against them until he ran out of lightnings a few minutes earlier, and being wounded by a god while Hercules was around meant they were suddenly at danger of being killed-just as he did less than a minute later.
Hercules seemed aware of this: his Titan-killing attack consisted of grabbing Stratos (the Wind Titan), the one Titan Zeus couldn't wound as he was made of air, and using him to vacuum-up the others, fulfilling both requirements at once by hitting him with the others. Once again, strength and smarts.
A Running Gag in the animated movie is that Phil always says more or less words than he counts. The first instance of this: "Two words! I am retired!" Except in Greek, it is two words (Είμαι συνταξιούχος).
Phil also calls Hercules "kid" constantly throughout the movie. Phil is a goat man.
Restoring Megara's soul might not have fixed her broken body—lucky for her that Heracles was a Greek god of health!
Hercules' last deal with Hades—"[Meg] goes. [Hercules] stays" in the River Styx. Even with the whole "you'll be dead before you get there" caveat, it would seem Hercules broke the deal by leaving the Underworld, right? Not exactly; if you watch closely, Hades and Hercules never shook on the deal. It was never binding, so technically there was no deal for either party to go back on.
During the song "I won't say I'm in Love", there is a line "That's ancient history, been there, done that!" But ancient history is the period the movie is set in! It implies she's not entirely over what happened yet.
The song does suggest she's not entirely over it, seeing as it's making her reluctant to let herself be in love with another person again, but "ancient history" is a very vague term. Its meaning changes with time. Nowadays "ancient history" could include the civil war/world war between Octavian (Augustus) and the Marc Antony and Cleopatra team-up. For the people living under Nero or even Hadrian that would still be considered relatively recent history (Think WWI to now for comparison).
A common subject of Greek comedies were parodies of classic myths and one particular sub-genre known as satyr plays would insert drunken satyr shenanigans into the story to create humor or conflict. This is possibly why they chose to portray Phil as a comical nymph-chasing satyr instead of the human he originally was.
The Fates' Prophecy - "Should Hercules fight, you will fail". Consider how Hercules ends up saving Mt Olympus in the first place; he's desperate to prove himself worthy of being a God, he's gone through all the Hero training necessary for such a task, he's motivated to stop Hades for revenge, he wants to hurry it up so he can save Meg, etc. If he hadn't been depowered, it's likely he might not have been able to save Olympus. Hercules would have been the most obvious threat to the Titans so they might have done careful planning so he was quickly neutralized. And Hades would have had the element of surprise as well. In the film he wasn't expecting Hercules at all and the Titans were unprepared. So the Fates set Hades out on a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
Similarly, the prophecy warns about what will happen if Hercules fights. It doesn't say he needs his strength for Hades to fail.
In Phil's song "One Last Hope", at least a couple lyrics are foreshadow-y. He says "It takes more than sinew/comes down to what's in you", and what does Zeus tell Herc when he finally ascends? "A hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." Phil was right, but even he forgot to teach Hercules that lesson and reinforce it.
During Phil's song about how every hero he's trained has died, he jumps on to a stump and is about to say "No way" until he's struck by lightning and suddenly agrees by saying "Okay". At first it looks like it's for comedic effect, until you realize that Zeus is the God of lightning, and therefore Zeus is threatening/ordering Phil to train Herc. Phil isn't just talking to Hercules when he agrees, he's talking to Zeus.
The tallest one of The Fates was originally keeping the other ones from telling Hades the future. They only told him their prophecy after he gave back them back the eye. Now can anyone tell me how Perseus had to blackmail them into giving him help to defeat Medusa?
The Titans are made of rock, ice, lava and tornado. They are actually earth, water, fire and air, the basic elements of life, only in their most destructive form. The muses say they have been there when Earth was born. Could they be like the "side effects" of its creation?
Which makes sense if you remember the origin of the Titans in the original myths: they were the children of Gaia.
Why is Hera, the most recognizable Yandere asshole in Greek mythology is much nicer in here? Disneyfication aside, being her actual legitimate child and a good-looking one to boot (see:Hephaestus) probably helped which prevented her from getting any ideas about driving her actual son mad in the actual myths.
Whenever we see the alligning planets, six planets can be seen. In ancient times, five planets were known because those can be seen by the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Adding Earth gives us the total of six.
Alternately, the sixth planet is Uranus. Despite not being noticed like the others, Uranus is visible with the naked eye when conditions are clear enough. Meanwhile, Neptune is correctly missing because it is the only true planet that can never be seen without a telescope.
In the series, Bob the Narrator commonly gets into arguments with the muses at the beginning of or firing an episode when they interrupt him. In the movie, he simply gives them an encouraging You go, girls instead. Since the series takes place before the movie, he probably just realized thats arguing is useless in the long run.
The fact that saving Meg gave Hercules his divinity while all his other heroics apparently didn't count has raised a few eyebrows, but there's a good reason for it. Meg's rescue was the only heroic act that Hercules performed without an ulterior motive. Everything else Hercules did was done because he thought it was his ticket into Olympus; helping people and doing the right thing was at best a secondary motivation. Hercules's excitement over two kids being trapped in a gorge seems like a quick gag, but it's a perfect display of the problem that was holding him back: lack of concern for others in favor of focusing on what he can get for himself. When Hercules made the deal to save Meg, he didn't stand to benefit in any way as far as he knew, which made it his first truly selfless act. Zeus knew that an act of true selflessness was the key, but explaining that to Hercules directly would have made that requirement impossible to meet.
Despite agreeing to take Meg's place in the Underworld if Hades let him save her, Hercules appears to have gone back on the deal by the end of the film. But consider that his alternative to saving Meg could've been becoming a hero in the living world, which would've granted him godhood and immortality...The same gifts he surrenders in the end, in order to be with Meg. In doing so, he's ensured that he will end up in the Underworld someday. After all, the deal technically never specified when. The only way if this will ever be averted is that Hercules ascends to godhood upon his death, not to mention the deal itself already fell through since he never shook on it.
Besides Nessus' assault on Meg, she's probably been forced into similar situations to help Hades make deals before...
We're never told just how long Meg's been working for Hades. She could have been his slave for decades or even centuries, since he controls her soul, including whether or not it can pass to the Underworld.
Most likely, he "enlisted" her services sometime in the 18 years Hercules spent growing up - Hades never even mentioned or hinted at having her at the beginning of the film, even offhandedly.
On the subject... Nessus was the one who KILLED Hercules in myths.... and he's still alive. Hercules has to watch out.
Nessus didn't kill Hercules, in the myth Nessus tells Deianira to take a couple of drops of his blood if she thinks that Hercules' love will ever fade for her. Deianeira takes the blood thinking of the many ladies that would like to steal her husband. One day while Hercules is away at war, he won a great victory and sent a messenger for his best tunic to celebrate. Deianeira, thinking that Hercules wants his best tunic to look good for a lady, takes Nessus' blood and paints it on the tunic. Lichas, the herald, soon delivers the tunic to Hercules. However, because it is covered in the Hydra's blood from Hercules' arrow, it poisons him, tearing his skin and exposing his bones. Hercules uproots several trees and builds a funeral pyre which Philoctetes lights. Through Zeus' apotheosis, Hercules rises to Olympus as he dies.
When Phil spots Meg and Hades talking, he's waking up after her song - and during Hades talking to Meg like she's some sort of girlfriend. In the background of him listening, Hades is really pulling Meg close, especially considering he's her boss and she doesn't like him much. Later Phil calls Meg, "nothing but a two-timing, lying, cheating-". Not only does Phil think Meg's willingly working for Hades, but he's witnessed a scene that makes him think she's amorously involved with him. It pretty much puts canon to the theories that Hades may have abused Meg in other ways...
When watching Disney's Hercules as a child, it looks like that centaur-monster was just hassling Meg, right? But try watching the same scene with a better knowledge of the mythology, listen closely to the dialogue, and... squick. Yeah, he's trying to rape her. And just to add more horror on top of that... he's not only half horse, he's half giant horse.
It's not clearly established what slice of humanity is in that whirlpool, or where, if anywhere, it leads to.
Even though the ending of this movie was treated as a Happy Ending, no good can really come out of it. Hercules will eventually die, and poor Zeus and Hera will have to watch and then suffer with it for all of eternity. Keep in mind that those two already missed out on his whole childhood, and now this! Even if he does ascend to Mt. Olympus after his death (since he did earn his godhood, he simply chose to give it up), there's no way Meg will be allowed up there, meaning Herc will have to live for eternity alone, while the love of his life is stuck floating in a river. Even if he was able to save her from the face of death before, I doubt he can do anything about her dying of old age.
Though to be fair, it happened more than once in the real myths that a genuine god would be able to deify their chosen mortal bride.
And in the original myths, when Heracles built and climbed onto his own funeral pyre to end his suffering, (centaur blood, unending torment while living, that sort of thing) he was so thoroughly cremated that the divine part of him became separated from the mortal part and joined the gods on Olympus. Who's to say that won't happen here regardless of Herc's fate, whether he dies of old age or by some other means? The "real" Hercules was properly deified, after all.
Hercules (Actually Heracles) in mythology was a gatekeeper of Olympus (Basically he was one of the guardians of Olympus), as well as being the divine protector of mankind (Which explains why he was able to reside on earth despite still being a god). But more importantly, he was worshipped as a god of several different things: God of strength, heroes, sports, athletes, health, agriculture, fertility, trade, oracles. His role as a protector of mankind helps to explain why he chose to remain on earth. Not only that, but several gods in mythology were known to live among mortals, so Disney was making a subtle nod to mythology by making Hercules remain on Earth. Also in mythology, numerous mortals were apotheosized (Made immortal) by the gods (Psyche, Ariadne, Asclepius, Heracles, Dionysus, The Dioscuri- Kastor & Polydeukes, Ganymede, Leucothea, Palaemon) to name a few. The gods and goddesses married mortals right and left and turned them immortal quite easily, so it's highly possible that Hercules would allow Meg to live out her mortal lifespan and then restore her youth by immortalizing her.
Alcmene and Amphytrion finding Hercules and adopting him is a very sweet scene but has a crueller side considering this was a very common practice in ancient Greece. Know as "exposure", unwanted newborns were left out in the wild by their fathers to be "left to their fates". These babies would either die or be adopted by childless couples.
In the myths, even some gods weren't spared such treatment: in one myth, as a baby, Hephaestus was thrown down from Olympus by his mother, Hera, due to his deformed leg. He fell into the sea, where he was found and raised by sea nymphs before returning to Olympus when he grew older.
Despite the fact that Hades is defeated in a typical manner implying "Disney Death", Hades is not killed and will come back as implied by Pain and Panic's conversation. This is already bad enough to what seems like a typical Happy Ending..... But in the original myths, there have been mortals who rebelled against Hades. For example:
When King Admetus' wife Alcestis dies (after she volunteered to take his death) and a dark cloaked and winged Hades comes to retrieve her soul, Herakles gets into a fight with Hades, ultimately making Hades give her up and restore her to life.
In another myth, Hades is sent by Zeus to retrieve King Sisyphus' soul. Stealthily King Sisyphus asked Hades why Hermes, whose job was to escort shades to the Underworld, had not come for him. Because Hades was busy trying to come up with an answer, he was unaware that chains were being placed around him until it was too late. As long as Hades was tied up, nobody could die. Because of this, sacrifices could not be made to the gods, and those that were old and sick were suffering. The gods finally threatened to make life so miserable for Sisyphus that he would wish he were dead. He then had no choice but to release Hades.
In other myths, Hades often attacked mortals, whether it be because Hades was trying to protect Cerberus from Herakles, or because Herakles was attacking the city of Pylos and Hades came to its aid, or simply because mortals were trying to cheat death.
But in the end, Hades found a way to prevail. So it can only be expected Hades will be back for trouble in future schemes. Being stuck in the pool won't probably last enough to give Hercules a break since he's fought far worse disobedience in the original myths...