Will ‘The Legend of Hercules’ Drive Classic Scholars Insane?

Kellan Lutz, Herculesfirstsoundtracks/YouTube

Did you hear that? No, it wasn’t the wind. That was the sound of hundreds of classics scholars screaming and ripping their hair out after seeing the trailer for the new Hercules movie starring Kellan Lutz. What it depicts seems to be anything except the son of Zeus. As someone who enjoyed reading the Greek and Roman myths throughout high school and college, I’m also a little perturbed at how this movie seems to be depicting him.

Let’s start with the build. Lutz looks more like a Twilight character than someone who was the strongest man on the planet. Even Kevin Sorbo looked more the part in the Adventures of Hercules show in the ’90s. Here, Lutz looks like a slightly less-built extra from 300. He doesn’t look like a man who held the Earth on his shoulders in place of Atlas for a period of time. Lutz’s Hercules would get squashed like a grape. Apparently director Renny Harlin told him to have really, really strong abs. Yeah, that’s what really stood out in the telling of these myths over the years: Hercules had six-pack abdominals before people even knew what those were.

Secondly, the trailer shows Hercules as a gladiator. This is something that never occurred in either the Greek OR Roman version of Heracles/Hercules that I know of. Now, if this was about a gladiator who took Hercules’ name in honor of the legend, then I could understand that, but this is something that goes well off-script.

Thirdly, it seems like the movie makers don’t like doing things like including the Greek or Roman Gods. Brad Pitt’s Troy was much weaker because of the absence of the deities, which I found confounding, since their actions played huge, huge parts in the Iliad. I looked at the cast list for the movie and there’s not one person playing a god, Greek or Roman. Sure, there’s Agamemnon, but no gods. Sigh.

Fourthly, I must say I have never been a fan of Harlin, with the exception of Die Hard 2 and maybe Cliffhanger. He also helmed several episodes of the action TV series Burn Notice, Covert Affairs and White Collar, which was surprising since those shows are often entertaining. This movie seems to be his first big-budget affair in a decade and if this movie tanks, he may be back on the small screen in no time flat.

Personally, I’m going to wait for the other version, the one with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Now he’s someone I could see with the blood of a god coursing through him.