The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already brought hundreds of unique characters from the Marvel Universe to the big screen, but there are still thousands more to be unleashed. One of them is long-time Avenger Hercules, who has a storied history in Marvel Comics. But Disney might not be as eager to focus on that version of the character, because it has its own new live-action rendition of Hercules in development.
However, this could actually be a golden opportunity to tie Disney and Marvel together for a true live-action movie crossover. The Disney Hercules probably won’t be tied to the MCU — but maybe he should.
The Marvel version of Hercules was first introduced during the Silver Age, quickly becoming a recurring rival of Thor, the God of Thunder. A bombastic and boastful hero, Hercules has slowly learned humility during his time in the Marvel Universe. He has found an unlikely friendship in characters like the Hulk, has frequently served as a member of the Avengers and has even saved the entire world more than once. He currently stands as the last of his version of the Greek Pantheon, with his fellow Gods being wiped out during Avengers: No Road Home. Along the way, he’s learned to accept responsibility for his acts — both positive and negative — and how to be a real hero, most recently giving up drinking and becoming a cosmic hero.
On the other side, Disney released Hercules in 1997 as part of the Disney Renaissance. Born of Zeus and Hera — rulers of the Greek Gods — Hercules is fated to prevent Hades from ever stealing Zeus’ throne. In an attempt to change his future, Hades has his servants turn Hercules mortal. However, they fail to strip him of his godly strength, allowing Hercules to survive and grow on Earth. Eventually learning the truth of his origins, Hercules dedicates himself to becoming a true hero — which would fully restore him to godly status. With the help of his snarky trainer Phil, his loyal steed Pegasus and the mysterious femme fatale Meg, Hercules finds himself confronted with a quest to prove his worthiness as both a God and a man.
The Disney live-action films have so far been their own singular universe. There isn’t any overt attempt to connect the films to any other franchise or even to each other. But there is the potential for the Disney films to connect to the largest film franchise in modern history because the company owns the MCU. It’s entirely possible that a musical entry based on Hercules could be tied to the MCU as their version of the character. Hercules already has a large number of MCU talent attached, including Joe and Anthony Russo (Directors of Avengers: Endgame) and Dave Callaham (the screenwriter of Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings), so it would make for a natural transition in tone. Disney and Marvel have collaborated on a film before too, with Big Hero 6 is an adaptation of an oft-forgotten Marvel series.
At their very core, the Disney Hercules and the Marvel Hercules go through similar arcs. While the Marvel Hercules is far more boisterous than his Disney counterpart, they both have to come to terms with what being a hero means. For the Disney Hercules, it’s eschewing the quest for glory so much as it’s a dedication to doing the right thing. For the Marvel Hercules, it’s about maturing and reaching his full potential — putting away his more youthful transgressions and habits while accepting greater responsibilities.
The Disney Hercules could begin that arc by introducing him in the past and how he first became a hero, before cutting to the modern day where he either returns to Earth after a period in Olympus or is revealed to still be alive. Few Marvel characters lend themselves to the natural bombast of musicals like Hercules, and it could help him standout from the other MCU characters. It could also officially tie the Disney and Marvel universes together, setting up the possibility of other forms of crossover down the line.
Disney's upcoming Hercules remake could give the studio a chance to allow their classic musical to take part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.