Myths in Popular Culture
Mythology doesn't belong exclusively to the world of “high art.” It's appeared in television shows, cartoons, comic books, toys, and video games. In myths, the stories are action-packed, the monsters terrifying, and the heroes larger than life.
From 1995 through 1999, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was a popular television series loosely based on myths of Heracles, his labors and his adventures. Kevin Sorbo played Hercules, and the series spun off action figures and other memorabilia. Its most popular spinoff was another television series Xena: Warrior Princess, which ran between 1995 and 2001. Xena, played by Lucy Lawless, wasn't a mythological figure, but she represented an Amazon-like female warrior.
Another popular spinoff featuring Hercules and Xena was the full-length animated film Hercules & Xena: The Battle for Olympus (1997). In this film, voiced by the television shows' actors, Hercules and Xena team up to overcome the Titans, who've been freed by Hera in a bid to become ruler of the universe.
The year 1997 also saw the release of Walt Disney Pictures' animated film Hercules. Although somewhat watered down for its young audience, the film kept the essence of the Heracles myths portraying the hero as a man who, through his ambition and accomplishments, achieved the highest reward: immortality.
Disney's early animated film Fantasia (1940) features characters from Greek mythology that range from centaurs to Zeus.
Comic books also depict mythological themes and characters. Marvel Comics featured the adventures of Zeus beginning in 1940. Selene, whose name comes from the ancient moon goddess, is a villainess in Marvel's X-Men comic books. In the world of DC Comics, Wonder Woman is a modern version of an Amazon, and one of her main enemies is named Circe. The Erinyes (Furies) appear in several volumes of DC Comics' Sandman series.
Want to live the life of an ancient hero? Video games put you right in the middle of the action. God of War, for PlayStation 2, is an award-winning video game whose main character, Kratos, is sent on a quest by Athena to kill Ares. Other games in this popular series include God of War II (2007), God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008), and God of War III (2010). Gamers with a taste for mythology can also try Age of Mythology (2002), Titan Quest (2006), and Rise of the Argonauts (2008).