Larger-than-life Greek Hercules returns to the big screen, this time based on Steve Moore’s graphic novel “Hercules: The Thracian Wars.”
Moore has written two graphic novels on Hercules, the other being “The Knives of Kush.” Admira Wijaya did the illustration.
Directed by Brett Ratner, “Hercules” stars Dwayne Johnson as the demigod who leads a band of mercenaries to help end a bloody civil war in Thrace and return the rightful king to his throne. Hercules has the strength of a god but feels the suffering of humans.
For “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” one of the flagship titles from Radical Comics, publisher and president Barry Levine wanted a creator with a spectacular angle for the ancient character. He found him in Moore.
In the comic-book version, Moore took a radically different approach from what readers had seen of the character before. Moore’s Hercules represents a complicated rendition of an anguished warrior.
“Certain elements of the story came from the original briefing that Barry gave me,” Moor said. “He wanted a grittier, more human Hercules, which played down the more mythological aspects and emphasized that of the warrior. After that, I had to go away and think of something that would give Barry what he wanted, while still being the sort of story that I wanted to write.”
Moore wanted to make sure that Hercules’ companions in the story were those with whom he was “mythologically contemporary.”
“For example, there was no point in teaming up Hercules and Achilles, because they were of different generations,” he said. “So, apart from Meneus, who was invented for the series, all the other characters in Hercules’ band are actual legendary characters who would have been alive at the same time, and whose personalities are largely based on what we know of them from their original stories.”
Moore admitted he had never read Edith Hamilton’s book “Mythology.” He said he was more fascinated with the modern retellings, and he used the Oxford Classical Dictionary for historical background and Pierre Grimal’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology for the characters and story elements.
On trying to recreate Hercules, Moore said he considered the social and historical context.
“I already had an image in my head of what Bronze Age Greece should look like,” he said. “Then it was a case of finding reference pictures for the artists, either by scanning books or finding what I wanted on the Web, and writing a very detailed script. It didn’t always work. In some of the mythological flashback scenes, they slipped in the odd bit of temple architecture that wouldn’t have existed until about 700 years later, but there’s only so much authenticity you can expect.”
For his version of Hercules’ story, Moore wanted to take on a “bleak” conclusion, of which he said his audiences were getting more receptive.
“I don’t do ‘heart-warming Walt Disney feel-good material,’” he said. “This is partly because I come from the British comics tradition, which probably has a harder edge than the American one; partly because I intended the story to be a meditation on inescapable destiny.”
The film also stars Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Berdal, Reece Ritchie, Tobias Santelmann, Rebecca Ferguson, Isaac Andrews and John Hurt.
Opening across the Philippines on July 23, “Hercules” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.