Dust off the scrolls and call the Muses, because Hercules is getting a live-action remake and we have opinions on who should be cast.
Someone call the Muses, because we have news of epic proportions to share, one that is best to shout it from the mountaintops. After all, it’s time to pull out all the stops for a star is about to be (re)born in the fine form of Greek hero, Hercules.
Honey, it may have seemed impossible, after all, anything pilfered and peddled from the internet must be taken with a grain of salt, especially when it suspiciously sounds too good to be true. But here’s the gospel truth: The Russo Brothers (does Marvel and Avengers ring a bell?) have verbally confirmed their involvement in the reported live-action remake of the beloved 1997 Disney animated film, Hercules. “Both us and our kids are Hercules fanatics,” Anthony Russo says in an interview with Collider. “And we had heard that Disney was interested in revisiting it and we’re in love with the original. And we made a case as to why we felt we would be right to produce that film and here we are.”
This was following a thinly veiled Instagram post featuring Pain and Panic, the bumbling but beloved henchmen of Hades, otherwise known as the head honcho of the underworld. “A recent pic of me and my bro…” it read, which erupted in a sea of speculation. To put rumors to rest, Joe and Anthony Russo are not directing the reboot just as they did with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, but instead, they will be producing the film of myth and marvel with a yet-to-be-named director. As it is still in its very early stages of development, only a writer has been attached to the project, one who boasts of some serious superhero cred. Tasked to dust out the scrolls of the mighty Greek hero, Dave Callaham, who helped write the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Wonder Woman 1984, is on board to flesh out the hero’s famed strength, hero-in-training adventures, and introspections of going the distance.
“I think you always have to bring something new to the table, because from our perspective as storytellers, it’s not compelling for us to do a literal translation. We’ve already done that with our Marvel films. We don’t do literal translations of the comics because we feel like if you want that story you can go read that story. We’re going to give you a different story. I think we’ll do something that’s in the vein of the original and inspired by it, but we also bring some new elements to the table,” details Anthony Russo, clearly already managing the expectations of fans. This is not only realistic, but also smart, because while the audiences will lap up anything tinged with nostalgia, it still wants something fresh and out-of-the-box. After all, this isn’t a Greek tragedy. Right, Muses?
Before your fear bubbles up from the depths of eternal damnation, this isn’t to say that there won’t be any music to this re-imagination, especially since the songs, a mix of pop, R&B, and gospel tunes that we’re still very much in love with today, account for a large consideration why Hercules was a hit with our generation. “We can’t say one way or the other,” teases Russo. “Music will certainly be a part of it.”
So, with enough time on my hands, I revisited this childhood favorite recently, and not only did I find myself mouthing dialogue and singing songs from memory, but realized how much of a precedent it has set for many of us who have been, or are still on that path of fully finding where we belong. This universal lesson to learn reminds us that while we might unfairly think of ourselves as zeroes, we all will eventually become heroes in our own regard. Yes, we know Phil, rule number 95: concentrate.
Needless to say, it seems like the travails and triumphs of Wonder Boy is all but necessary to revisit. And on that note, it had me thinking, perhaps way too seriously, who would be best suited for these roles? Mount Olympus is the limit here and well, let’s just say I had way too much fun dreaming up this cast.
David Corenswet as Hercules
With just enough swoops of hair for it to dance in the rush of wind when battling mythological monsters and creatures, a timeless face to charm the once doubtful crowd, and an earnest eagerness that is relatable, David Corenswet is a mighty contender for the heroic role of Hercules. While he may have no solo song numbers as an adult, the star of Ryan Murphy’s The Politician and Hollywood can actually sing, so it won’t be a long shot to hear him belt out Go The Distance in a reprise perhaps? Oh, and in case you are wondering if he is built like a Greek god, we’ll let you wander off to his previous works where it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Let’s just say, he can definitely get there.
Zendaya as Megara
Sure, the general population of the internet may have decided that Ariana Grande is a suitable choice for the sassy and spunky damsel in non distress, especially following her perfection of a performance of I Won’t Say I’m In Love, but it seems all too, well, cliché. With just enough fire in her, as well as of a glowing list of TV (Euphoria) and movie (The Greatest Showman) credentials, Zendaya will certainly essay a more nuanced depth to this vision of a character. Get a grip, girl, because this is no rotten judgment. She can sing, act, and show you who’s boss, just like the Meg we have come to love.
Danny De Vito as Phil
The opinion of social media got this right: There is no one better suited for the role of Philoctetes, the satyr that coaches Hercules from being a zero to a bonafide hero. Voicing the character in the cartoon, it makes sense to carry him over from the animated medium to live action, just as they did to James Earl Jones in The Lion King. Besides, who else can deliver those sarcastic zingers with the hubris of a creature past his prime than the great Danny De Vito himself?
Kurt Russell as Zeus
Imposing and intimidating as he may seem as the main man of the pantheon of gods, the orange-hued king of Mount Olympus is portrayed as pleasant and even good-humored, very much like your regular Dad. While he may wield bolts of thunder and lightning, he is just as playful and doting when it comes to his boy, Hercules. With popular picks including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Chris Hemsworth, another possible contender could be Walt Disney legend, Kurt Russell. From his early years with The Strongest Man In The World to his career-turning Silkwood and Elvis, and even Sky High and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. II, he seems like the man for the job.
Julianne Moore as Hera
With a lot of actresses who posses an otherworldly, goddess-like demeanor, it isn’t too difficult to find the right pick for Hera, portrayed in the animated film as gentle and devoted. However, if her actual temperament in Greek mythology is to be factored in, an actress of incomparable incandescence is required for the role. Twitter is convinced that Nicole Kidman is perfect for the role, which isn’t entirely unfounded. However, she just filled in the role of Queen Atlanna, Aquaman’s mother in the DC superhero flick so it is a little repetitive. So, who else slip in her gleaming robes than the profoundly prolific Julianne Moore? Let’s not even get to her acting reel because from The Big Lebowski, Far From Heaven, The Hours, A Single Man, The Kids Are Alright, as well as of Hunger Games, she is more than capable of this mythical task.
Jeff Goldblum as Hades
Devious and malevolent as he may be written as, there is a dry, sardonic humor nd acerbic wit that makes Hades a favorite, despite being the crux to Hercules’ path to becoming a hero and a god. The villain to many, the lord of the underworld is sly and terrifying, hashing up plans for his hostile takeover, making it a role many actors would want to sink their teeth into. The rest of social media has their eyes on Benedict Cumberbatch, Jim Carrey, and Tom Hiddleston for the hot-headed god, but another interesting choice is Jeff Goldblum. Everyone’s favorite resurfacing actor and internet uncle, the famous dinosaur doctor of Jurassic Park has also done some notable voice work for films such as The Prince of Egypt and Isle of Dogs. And come on, wouldn’t his brassy baritone be perfect for Hades?
John Mulaney and Nick Kroll as Pain and Panic
Tasked with carrying out the master plans of their boss, Hades, Pain and Panic are well-meaning henchmen, but don’t often quite get the job done as they would like. A foil to the blazing temper of Hades, their goofball tendencies can best be realized by the comedic stylings of John Mulaney and Nick Kroll. Long-time friends since their Jesuit education days in college, the now major players in gags, sketches, and brilliant comedy were made for Pain and Panic. Sure to come in handy for the two is a level of familiarity unique to them, their improv skills, and not to mention, their voice works for projects such as Into The Spiderverse (Mulaney), Sausage Party (Kroll), and Big Mouth. Do yourselves a favor and watch them as geriatric wise-asses in their hit Broadway show, Oh, Hello, which lucky for you, can be streamed on Netflix.
Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, and Meryl Streep as The Fates
Spinning the thread of human fate in the underworld, The Fates determine death, cut a mortal’s thread of life, and banish them to the never-ending Well of Souls. A group of deities and sisters, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos are pivotal characters in the story, especially when it comes to chest-clutching climax. While they may be grim and ghastly, what with life in their hands, they also provide a breath of comedic relief in the more tense scenes, which means we need to see a trio who can handle all of that—and act as if they’ve been together for well, an eternity. Following the recently concluded #Sondheim90Concert, where the biggest, boldest, and bravest of Broadway have come together in the name of the legendary Stephen Sondheim, a clear highlight was the Zoom happy hour of icons Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, and Meryl Streep performing Ladies Who Lunch. Boozy, unhinged, and electrifying, this crossover was not only unforeseen and unparalleled, but it got us thinking? What if they had the fate of our lives in their hands? Oh, hand us a glass of wine, because frankly, we wouldn’t mind at all.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson as Amphitryon and Alcmene
Who better coddle and care for a mysterious bundle of joy than everyone’s favorite parents, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson? Warm, genuine, and survivors of circumstance, the husband and wife power-hitters of Hollywood are the perfect ones to step into the fostering cloaks of Aphitryon and Alcmene, who have no other prayer to the gods than to bear a child. With their energy, it sure will be no surprise why Hercules grows up to be the hero that he is.
Eugene Levy as Hermes
Quick on his feet and well, wings, the royal messenger of the gods and apparent right-hand man of Zeus in the film has enough screen time to fit in wise-cracks. Voiced by Paul Shaffer in the animation, it seems that a prerequisite for the role is an affinity for standout eyewear and a trove of talent, which Eugene Levy possesses and more. With a signature drawl and affinity for comedy, the Schitt’s Creek co-creator and star can do wonders for Hermes in all his glowing blue appeal.
Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, Alex Newell, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna as The Muses
Tasked with not only narrating the story in a more energetic, enchanting, and effective way, the Muses also have the responsibility of weaving the segments of mythology into a cohesive exposition through songs, no less. And if that isn’t for the goddesses of the arts and proclaimers of heroes, they also at one point act like a voice of conscience to the befuddled Meg in a song that sears through the consciousness of many lovelorn folk to this day. Clearly the most divided in terms of who the fans want to see, I thought it would be best to mix up the assemblage of powerhouses from pop, R&B, and Broadway, focusing on a diverse group of women who are unique on their own, but will blend together in a most awesome harmony as a chorus of courage. While the internet is insistent on adding Beyoncé to the list, there is no sign of her here, because let’s face it, she will want top-billing, a solo song crafted for her, and maybe a role written in her name, which isn’t the essence of being part of the celebrated Muses. So, scouring the entire landscape of pop music and Broadway, this dream cast includes Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, Alex Newell, Alicia Keys, and Rihanna as a proud coming together of voices to sing the ballad and gospel truth of Hercules. You go, girls.