Although there have been numerous variations on the Hercules myth in popular culture with everyone from Kevin Sorbo to Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role, Marvel’s rendition of the burly man’s man is something unique. He’s a fighter and a drinker, and prone to fits of great highs and great lows. He’s been a member of everything from the Avengers, the Defenders, the Champions, Heroes For Hire, Damage Control, and even a team called the God Squad (google it!). But by-and-large, he’s been more comfortable — for him and those other teams — when he walks on his own.
And with Marvel flush with success from this past summer’s Avengers film they’re trolling the longboxes looking for other potential movie franchises, and this ardent fanboy believes Hercules could be just the man for the job.
Sometimes Hollywood-types need a high concept to really understand what a movie is. For my take on Hercules, “John Belushi doing Conan meets The Hangover.” A Hercules movie shouldn’t be Thor; the Thor movie already does that. Instead, I’d play up the debached image of Hercules Marvel’s creators have dreamt up over the years, and borrow a early 00s classic storyline.
Imagine a down-and-out Hercules wallowing in modern times, say in a seedy off-the-main-drag bar in Chicago. Maybe he’s mad he wasn’t invited into the Avengers? Maybe he’s mad at his family? Maybe another girl broke his heart? It could be one or all of those things, but at the end of the day it leaves Hercules on in the heights (or is it depths?) of a month-long bender. He’s roused from his sleep by a fellow Roman diety, Eurystheus, who offers him a way out — by reliving his greatest moments — his Twelve legendary Labors — as a reality TV series event. In this world, we could show that the Greek gods have kept with the times and come and live among the people, masquerading as normal people in society. Hercules sees this as a chance to get out of his funk (and earn some cash, dontcha know!), but little does he know that its all a ploy by his jealous aunt Hera
In this, Hercules could criss-cross the globe doing modern itterations of his Twelve Labors, at first oblivious to Hera’s scheming but later catching on and discovering that if he ultimate wins all Twelve Labors, she wins. What does he do?
Originally I had more action-oriented directors pegged for this, but after catching the 21 Jump Street remake I had second thoughts. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are dark horse candidates, but after looking at their oeuvre between 21 Jump Street, the excellent Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs and the overlooked TV show Clone High, I think these might be the men for the job. Remember, Jon Favreau wasn’t an action director before he did Iron Man, nor Tim Burton before Batman.
Hercules – Joe Manganiello: Manganiello seems to be one of those guys waiting in the wings for his big solo break; he was in the running to play Superman for 2013′s Man of Steel, played Flash Thompson in the Sam Raimi Spider-man movies, but his big break was as a werewolf in True Blood. Watching this and his work on Magic Mike, and you can see he’s more than just a muscular actor but someone with some comic timing and not afraid to make fun of himself. He’d be a riot as Hercules.
Hera – Helena Bonham Carter:I couldn’t think of anyone better than Helena Bonham Carter for this. She has the acting pedigree, but also the ability to camp it up as seen in Sweeney Todd. and as the great Red Queen in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Given Manganiello’s relative inexperience with movies and celebrity, Carter could be an excellent initial draw for the movie. She can also have red hair.