Hercules is a 1997 animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures on June 27, 1997. The thirty-fifth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, this film was directed by Ron Clements & John Musker. The film is based on the legendary Greek mythology hero Heracles (as known as his Roman name Hercules), the son of Zeus in Greek mythology.
Though Hercules did not match the financial success of the Disney Renaissance Era, the film received positive reviews, and made $99 million in revenue in the United States during its theatrical release and $252,712,101 worldwide.
Hercules was later followed by the direct-to-video prequel Hercules: Zero to Hero, which served as a prequel to Hercules: The Animated Series, a syndicated Disney TV series focusing on Hercules during his time at the Prometheus academy.
Once upon a Time after Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods of Mount Olympus, does it with his wife Hera, they give birth to a son, Hercules. All the gods of Olympus celebrate Hercules' birth except for Zeus' jealous brother Hades his Uncle, who was forced by Zeus to work as lord of the dead in the Underworld, and seeks to overthrow his brother. Hades learns from the Fates that in eighteen years, a planetary alignment will reveal the location of where the Titans are trapped, allowing him to free them and take over Olympus, but only if Hercules doesn't interfere. Hades sends his minions Pain and Panic to kidnap Hercules, bring him to Earth, and kill him after giving him a potion that will turn him mortal. However, Pain and Panic are unable to give Hercules the entire potion which, while still making him mortal, allows him to retain his godlike strength. Hercules is then found by a farmer and his wife, who raise him as their own son.
Over the next sixteen years, Hercules grows up into a misfit, his strength seen as a nuisance to all the locals. After being rejected by the townsfolk when he accidentally destroys the marketplace, Hercules questions where he truly belongs. His foster parents reveal how they found him with a medallion bearing the symbol of the gods, so Hercules travels to the Temple of Zeus, where the almighty god's statue comes to life and reveals his past and true lineage. Zeus explains that Hercules can become a god again and return to Olympus if he can become a true hero, so he sets out on his old childhood friend Pegasus to find the satyr Philoctetes a trainer of heroes. Phil has long-since retired after failing to train a successful hero, but is convinced to train Hercules.
After his training is complete, Hercules sets out with Phil and Pegasus to the city of Thebes to prove his newfound worth. Along the way, Hercules saves a woman named Megara from being pestered by the centaur Nessus, and becomes attracted to her. Unbeknownst to Hercules, Meg is in league with Hades after selling her soul to save a man she once loved, but had left her for another woman. Discovering Hercules to still be alive, Hades sets up a trap for him outside of Thebes where he is forced to battle the Hydra. However, Hercules manages to defeat the Hydra, and is praised by all of Thebes as a hero, during the song "Zero to Hero", is shown to dispatch every other monster Hades sends against him. Hercules is treated like a celebrity, but Zeus informs him that he is not a true hero yet.
Meg is sent by Hades to find his weakness, but she falls in love with him instead. Phil discovers Meg to be working for Hades and attempts to warn Hercules, but abandons him after an ensuing argument. Realizing that Meg is Hades' weakness, he uses her to make a deal with Hercules in which he must give up his powers for an entire day in exchange for Meg's safety, using this time to free the Titans and take over Olympus, while Hercules is crushed by Meg's deception and loses the will to fight. One of the Titans, a Cyclops, is sent to Thebes to eliminate Hercules. Meg convinces Phil to return to Hercules, motivating him into battling and defeating the Cyclops through improvisation. However, Meg is mortally wounded by a falling column to save Hercules, though it breaks Hades' deal of Meg not being harmed and restoration Hercules' powers, allowing him to defeat the Titans. Unfortunately, he is too late to save Meg from dying. Hercules confronts Hades in the Underworld and offers his soul to reclaim Meg's. Hades accepts, but only if Hercules can reclaim it in the River Styx, gradually saps his life force as he swims. Hercules will to sacrifice his life for Meg awakens Hercules as a true hero and restoration his status as an immortal god. Hercules successfully retrieves Meg's soul and punches Hades into the River Styx, where he is dragged to the depths by vengeful souls.
The film ends, which Hercules returns Meg's soul to her body and brings her back to life and is brought to Olympus where the gods welcome him back into his old home, however, Hercules is unable to live without Meg and Zeus allows him to stay on Earth as a mortal to stay with the one he loves, Zeus creates a ghost of Hercules appears in the clouds in the night sky allowing the world to hail him as a true hero if the wait is over Hercules.
This film was first released on home video on February 3, 1998 in the US as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line and a Limited Issue DVD came out on November 9, 1999, followed by a re-issue title to VHS and DVD on August 1, 2000 as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classics Collection line.