Friday, January 14, 2011

Hercules, the Pop Hero

Of all the Greek / Roman mythological characters, Hercules seems to be the most successful these days. The key word is seems – I haven't done a thorough research on this, but I just might. I mean, there must be some very elaborate explanation for his recent Hollywood success; until the 19th century, Ulysses / Odysseus was the most popular guy in the class.

I assume Ulysses faded out of fashion as an age of exploration and discovery came to and end, but what's with the sudden need for a primordial hero of civilization? And with the comeback of huge pectorals?

I've read somewhere that the creators of Superman were heavily inspired by the myths of Hercules, same as for He-Man (wish they'd have put more thought into the name). So, ok, he was the quintessential representative of masculinity, but his arch-enemy was a woman, and it was also a woman who killed him in the end. I'd just love to see Superman in such a conundrum.

Which brings me to the most ardent question: if Superman fights Hercules, who'd win? I'd say Superman, it's commonsensical, with all the powers he's got, compared to just the super-strength of Hercules, but I'd better quantify that.

1. The cape of Hercules was made of real fur; Superman would never be so environmental unconscious. (+1)

2. Only Hercules went mainstream with the story of his marriage; while Superman kept his out of the spotlight. (+1 – I mean, what's the point in making your wife the target of the paparazzi?)

3. Both of them allegedly killed their wives / girlfriends at some point (yes, allegedly, even for Hercules; some people say Megara survived and went on to marry Iolaus, Hercules' best friend and lover. Myths are just as complicated as comic books.) but only Hercules killed his children. (+1)

4. All that facial hair on Hercules. (+1)

5. Superman in tights. (-1. Tragic, but Hercules, in the nude, wins this round.)

6. Hercules died. (+1)

7. Superman can fly. On the other hand, Hercules may not perceive that as a strength, in his time, only useless fancy boys like Mercury were flying, real men were not afraid of walking the earth. (tie)

8. Hercules became a god after dying. (-1, and very tricky for Superman, as it means he won't be able to kill the immortal Hercules now. Then again, Superman should be able to go back in time and kill Hercules when he was still alive. Heh.)

9. Superman has a bunch of superhero friends he can bring along to the battle. Hercules has a bunch of god friends. (tie)

10. Hercules gets Wonder Woman. (+1. Yes, +1, the round goes to Superman, because Hercules is married. To Hebe. How rude of him to cheat after she washed his shirts for 3,000 years. And don't even get me started about Wonder Woman. What's she thinking?)

So, there you have it: +4 – clear scientific proof that Superman wins, and by a landslide. And I have a very severe form of the Peter Pan complex. Oh, how about Peter Pan vs. Mercury?