Released all the way back in the ancient year of 1997, Disney's Hercules took us back to the equally distant time of Ancient Greece, and introduced us to some of our favorite Disney characters of all time.
Between the charming Hercules, the sassy and self-reliant Megara, the manic and unhinged Hades, and the ever-present and fabulous Muses, we all fell in love with the characters from this movie right away (not to mention its slew of excellent songs). It remains a classic today, but we're pretty sure even die-hard fans might not know some of these facts!
Hades is one of James Woods's favorite roles.
So much so that he's voiced every one of the character's appearances, from movies, to TV, to video games.
Woods's performance drastically changed the character.
Hades was written as being much more stoic and menacing, like some of the more classic Disney villains. However, James Woods made him much more manic and fast-paced, and actually ad-libbed a lot of his dialogue.
There's a morbid reference to The Lion King in the movie.
The lion skin you see Hercules wrap around himself in one scene is actually the skin of Scar from The Lion King. Yeesh, guess those hyenas really messed him up in the end.
The movie isn't super accurate to Greek myth.
Hercules is actually the character's Roman name: the Greeks called him Heracles. Also, it's not Hercules, but Bellerophon (the one who fights the Chimera), who rides Pegasus in the original myths. Finally, the way Hercules meets Megara in the movie is actually how he meets his second wife, Deianira.
There's a pretty crazy Nike reference.
Hercules's "Air Herc" sandals are a clear reference to Nike's "Air" line of shoes (especially the Air Jordan shoes by basketball player Michael Jordan). It doesn't end there though! Nike themselves are actually named after the Greek goddess of athletic triumph.
The movie's subject was a first for Disney.
Hercules is the company's first movie based on world myth instead of a fairytale or folklore.
You might have missed a pretty contemporary joke.
The kids who get trapped under a boulder yell "someone call IXII!" While they pronounce it like the letters, they're actually spelling "911" in Greek/Roman numerals: IX-I-I.
The facts just get more unbelievable from here...
The Hydra was super complicated to animate.
It took the animators anywhere between 6 to 14 hours to animate a single frame (of which there are 24 in a single second of film) of the beast, depending on how many heads it had in the shot. The whole four-minute action scene took over a year to animate.
Greek athletes actually did some of the things Hercules does in the movie.
During the part where Herc signs endorsement deals and makes guest appearances at events, this is clearly a reference to modern-day athletes. However, it turns out that famous Greek athletes were often hired to do the same thing back in Ancient Greece!
The Muses were almost played by the Spice Girls.
They were offered the roles but had to decline because of scheduling conflicts.
There's even references to Disney World rides.
At one point the Muses turn into singing busts: the same singing busts from Disney's Haunted Mansion ride.
The movie was made as a response to criticism.
Both Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame drew criticism for tackling subject matter that was too "adult" for Disney, so Hercules was made to be a comedy from the start.
Hercules is actually related to a Disney princess.
Zeus, Hercules's father and king of the Greek gods, is the brother of Poseidon, the god of the sea. Poseidon has a son named Triton, who you might recognize as the father of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. This makes Herc and Ariel first cousins, once removed.
Pain uses hair product to make Hercules mortal.
He calls the potion that turns Herc mortal "Grecian Formula," which is a real-life hair product that's used to color graying hair.
Lines had to be changed because of animation decisions.
Phil's original line to Hercules about Meg was "Don't let your guard down because of a pair of big, blue eyes." However, by the time the animation was finished, Meg's eyes were changed to purple. which meant "big, blue eyes" was changed to "goo-goo eyes."