|“||Think about it, brother! While I was stuck cleaning the Augean stables, he chose you to destroy Ares! Not convinced? How about this? While you were being crowned the God of War I was sent to find an apple. They called them "labors". Ha! Perhaps he did allow me to kill the Nemean Lion, but he made your name known amongst the people! A fierce warrior, a killer made a hero, a man made a god! But this time, brother, this time I shall destroy you. Call it my thirteenth and final labor. Soon I will become the God of War and claim the throne for myself!||”|
Hercules was the son of Zeus and half-brother to Kratos. As a mortal, he was tasked with 12 labors in order to gain redemption for the murder of his family. Being called to Olympus in order to defend it with the Gods, Hercules would consider it his 13th and final labor to rid Olympus of Kratos once and for all.
In Greek mythology, Heracles was the Demigod son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmene, who is the granddaughter of Perseus. Heracles was blessed with unnatural strength from birth. He was outright hated by Zeus' wife, Hera, who drove him to madness as he grew into adulthood. This god-driven madness led him to commit the murder of his wife, Megara, and his two sons
Seeking atonement for his atrocious deed, King Eurystheus assigned Heracles to perform ten labors, like killing the Nemean Lion or the Hydra, but cheated him into doing two more. Heracles, however, had finished all these labors (mainly using his strength) and found redemption. Heracles had many more adventures, but was ultimately killed by his own wife Deianara (albeit unintentionally), ascending to Olympus as he died.
In the God of War Series
Hercules is the older half-brother of Kratos, and shares many similarities with him. Both warriors mercilessly killed their wife and children under the influence of gods (Hera for Hercules; Ares for Kratos), having been forced to serve Olympus for a number of years in order to hopefully gain redemption. Both are also demigods, being the sons of Zeus. Their rage is also uncontrollable, leading to moments where they become blinded by bloodlust. Some of Kratos' moves with the Blades of Chaos are named after Hercules (Spirit of Hercules, Valor of Hercules, and Might of Hercules). There is also a bonus costume of Hercules that can be unlocked in God of War II.
Hercules is first seen taking orders from his father to attack the invading Titans. He commands a large group of Olympus Sentries to jump off Olympus and attack the Titans, which land on Gaia's arm and attack Kratos.
When Kratos later encounters Hera in the Arena, she has Hercules fight Kratos as her champion. There, Hercules reveals how he believes Zeus considers Kratos his favorite, as Kratos was the one assigned to kill Ares while Hercules was cleaning the Augean stables, and that while Kratos was being crowned the God of War, Hercules was tasked to procure one of the Hesperides' golden apples. Due to his own pride, he regards all of the labors as trivial with the exception of slaying the Nemean Lion.
Although he held only the first labor as the task worthy of him, Zeus made Kratos' story more famous across the world. He then reveals how he plans to destroy Kratos as his thirteenth, unofficial and final labor, becoming the God of War himself.
Kratos attempts to reason with his half-brother, saying that Zeus has no favorites and that even though Hercules wants to be an Olympian, their reign will end, but Hercules does not listen, telling Kratos, "We'll see about that." After Kratos kills all of his undead soldiers, Hercules decides to fight him himself using the Nemean Cestus, throwing off the soldiers who brought and armed him with these weapons into the arena.
After the two warriors trade blows for a time and Kratos destroys one of his shoulder-guards and his helmet, Kratos stabs Hercules in the arm and takes the pair of Cesti one by one. Hercules then fights Kratos unarmed, which he considers a real challenge. After a long and fierce fight, Hercules tears up and lifts the floor of the arena making Kratos almost fall, but he uses the spikes on the Cestus to claw his way back up. Kratos then pounds on the arena floor with the Cestus, causing it to fall on Hercules, trapping him.
Taking advantage of Hercules' predicament, Kratos brutally beats Hercules to death with the Nemean Cestus, staving his head in and smashing the arena floor open. Both Kratos and Hercules, the latter now dead and gruesomely disfigured, tumble into the sewers below, where Kratos leaves his brother's body to rot. Before leaving, Kratos can take Hercules' shoulder guard.
The Forum where Kratos fought his half brother returns in Ascension as one of the multiplayer maps. Hercules is featured in this level. At the beginning of each match, he is seen putting his Cestus on with the help of a pair of satyrs and then punching them away, much like the way he did in God of War III with a pair of Olympus Sentries.
Hercules watches the players fighting below him, but interferes occasionally: he jumps down to the floor sometimes, pounding the ground with the Cestus and creating a blue shock-wave that pushes the players to the edge of the Arena. If not jumped properly, these shock-waves will damage players and push them away. Each wave also destroys a part of the board of the Arena, which allows players to throw each other to death in these open spaces.
In the Trial of the Gods mode, Hercules role is extended: he not only creates the blue shock-waves mentioned above, but also acts as the boss of the Arena map in this mode. In the third round of the Trial, Hercules jumps down to the battlefield to fight the players with other monsters. He uses the same attacks of God of War III. After taking enough damage, he runs back to the bleachers and continues to watch over the match.
In the last round of the Trial, he jumps down to fight the players once again. This time, he loses his armor after being weakened and then claps the Cesti together, destroying them and damaging near warriors as well. He continues to fight them by grabbing and punching them, exactly like he fights in the third once again.
After weakening him for the last time, a red halo will appear above Hercules' head. When he is grabbed, the player(s) will push him to the ground and punch him continuously, one hitting his face and the other one, if present, his chest. The camera angles continuously changes, which also resembles much his death in the third game. After many punches, the player(s) will win the match, but won't stop hitting Hercules.
Hercules is most likely left unconscious rather than being killed by the players, since his definitive death occurs in God of War III. His defeat, however, is a great act already.
Hercules is an extremely prideful and quick to anger individual, despite this, he shows to greatly respect the gods, principally his father, Zeus, who he is always trying to impress. Because of his obsession to impress Zeus, and his pride, Hercules is also extremely jealous of his younger brother, Kratos, as he believes that Kratos is Zeus's favorite son, and that Kratos had been offered greater glory than Hercules could ever achieve, while finishing his 'twelve labors', which, according to Hercules, were just minor tasks when compared to everything Kratos has done. Because of all of this, Hercules is determined to destroy Kratos, and claim the throne of the God of War himself. Despite his apparent disdain for his more menial labors such as cleaning the Augean stables and procuring one of the Hesperides' golden apples, there is at least one that he does hold to be a proper accomplishment, that one being slaying the Nemean Lion.
Powers and Abilities
Hercules was considered the most powerful hero and Demigod in existence. Hercules possessed a wide variety of godly powers that include:
- Vast Superhuman Strength: Hercules is physically the strongest demigod, aside Kratos. He is stronger than humans by enormous degrees, and likely can overpower many monsters and beasts, as he did with the Nemean Lion. His incredible strength surpasses even some Olympians, with possibly only his father Zeus and other greater gods like Poseidon and Hades being stronger. During his fight with Kratos he proved to be a difficult challenge but was ultimately overpowered by Kratos, though not without much time and effort on the Spartan's part. Thanks to his strength, Hercules could toss/punch Kratos across the entire arena, as well as rip off parts of the Arena's walls and throw them with enormous strength. Even if gravely injured, he could lift and move the entire arena's floor with only moderate effort. His superhuman strength also extends to his lower body including his legs. This gives him the ability to jump great heights and vast distances in a single leap.
- Superhuman Agility: Hercules' agility allows him to move super-humanly quick with little to no effort, able to dodge and react to blows from Kratos who himself is much lighter and faster than normal.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: Hercules, like most demigods and Gods, is invulnerable to a certain extent. It takes far more to end his life than simple injuries like a human would, as Hercules takes a tremendous amount and variety of attacks from Kratos during their clash, including but not limited to cuts and severe blunt attacks with his own Nemean Cestus, with the resultant blood loss and trauma not appearing to weaken or significantly contribute to his death, which itself was via Kratos crushing his face into his skull.
- Superhuman Reflexes: Hercules has the ability to respond or react to various forms of danger to a degree above a normal human, though not apparently very extreme in supernatural terms. He was able to dodge and/or block various attacks from different directions while in combat with Kratos, who himself is supernaturally fast.
- Superhuman Stamina: Hercules never tires and can remain in battles for very long periods of time, as not even when facing Kratos and after taking enormous amounts of injury and blood loss did he seem to be exhausted.
- Master Combatant: Hercules is one of the greatest warriors of Olympus aside from his father, uncles and Ares himself. Due to his life training and experiences during his 12 labors, Hercules is incredibly skilled in combat which is further improved by his physical prowess and size. He is especially skilled with his Nemean Cestus a metal lion-shaped gauntlets which can use to punishing either his enemies or the ground creating massive shock waves in the process. He is also great experience in pure hand to hand combat where he can use his strength where he can beat, strangle or crush his adversaries in his trademark bear embrace. Overall Hercules's combat abilities were so high, that he managed to give his brother Kratos, who is an immensely powerful and experienced combatant himself, one of the hardest fights during his journey for revenge and aside from his father hold his own against him longest from others gods.
Kratos was Hercules' half-brother and, in his eyes, his arch-enemy. When Hercules was infected with the evil of Envy released from Pandora's Box, he felt irrational jealousy towards his brother, despising how Kratos was their father's perceived favorite, while ignoring all of the horrible things that their father had done to Kratos by that point. He was also jealous of Kratos being crowned the God of War, being the mortal sent to kill Ares while he was stuck doing his twelve labors, such as "cleaning" the Augean stables and being sent to procure one of the Hesperides' golden apples, and having his name renowned throughout the land while Hercules was not nearly as famous as his brother, at least in his own mind.
During the Second Great War, Hercules came face-to-face with Kratos on Olympus and bitterly ranted about his belief of his brother being Zeus' favourite and refused to listen when Kratos attempted to reason with him, instead declaring his intentions to take the title of God of War by killing his brother. After a long and brutal battle, Hercules was killed when Kratos took the Nemean Cestus and beat him to death with them, smashing his head beyond recognition.
Despite Hercules animosity towards Kratos, it does appear they were close at some point, as they both address each other as brothers and he is the only Demigod/God Kratos was noticeably reluctant to fight.
Zeus was Hercules' father. Hercules was completely loyal to Zeus, and was willing to give his life to serve him. In return, Zeus trusted Hercules very much, and gave him high authority over the armies of Olympus. Hercules was determined to stay in his father's favor, and so felt that he was looked down upon by Zeus while Kratos was crowned the God of War by the King of Olympus. Hercules led the armies of Olympus during the Second Titan-God War, but was killed by Kratos, a loss which Zeus showed little remorse for.
The wife of Zeus always hated Hercules for being another bastard son of her husband. Because of this hate, she tried to kill Hercules in several parts of his life, which includes creating his famous Twelve Labors. Hera's anger grew stronger as the bastard son of Zeus accomplished all the suicide missions she invented for him and became even more famous for escaping death so many times. While Hercules had this same hate for Hera, the evil Envy seems to have blinded him completely: the demigod seems to have completely forgotten or is willing to ignore his rivalry with his stepmother/aunt and her desire to see him dead to instead turn his attention to Kratos.
- Hercules is voiced by Kevin Sorbo, who played the character in the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and its spinoff, Xena: Warrior Princess.
- According to a special feature in God of War III, Hercules stands about 12 feet tall, and weighs more than 4000 pounds (1818 kg) (with gauntlet). He's also the only mortal son of Zeus with an enormous size.
- Hercules was originally going to appear in God of War II and was to be voiced by Cam Clarke, but due to time and budget, he was scrapped, even though the credits still listed Cam Clarke for the role.
- In God of War III, Hercules talks about his labors as if it were Zeus who assigned him those labors when in mythology his cousin, King Eurysutheus, was the one who assigned him the labors. The most likely answer is that, like other things in the God of War universe, it really was Zeus who assigned him the labors. This might also mean that Hera had less to do with him and his labors, which would also mean they had less animosity for each other than in the original myth.
- By mentioning his labors, it was implied there might be more hydras that exist in Kratos' world than the one shown in the first God of War game. (His second labor consisted of killing a hydra.) The God of War Novel stated Hercules had originally killed the hydra, but it was later resurrected by Athena to trick Poseidon into empowering Kratos.
- Despite all the Olympians going by their Greek names, Hercules is identified by his Roman name rather than his Greek name, Heracles. The inconsistency of the regional naming was confirmed to be due to the fame and popularity attached to the Roman version of the name. Another Roman reference regarding him is in the design of his helmet, as it resembles more of the helmet used by a Centurion more than a Hoplite.
- Hercules is also know in Etruscan Mythology as Hercle.
- His armour also bares striking similarities to Tigris' apparel in the 2000 film Gladiator.
- There is a distinct lion motif to Hercules' portrayal in God of War III: this is presumably because he considered his defeat of the Nemean Lion one of the only labors worthy of him, his helm resembling a lion's face (with the plume forming a mane), his shoulder guards resembling lion paws, his preferred weapons having lion's faces on them, and many of the attacks learned from the Nemean Cestus evoke images of lions and beasts.
- The last phase of his boss fight can also be seen as a morbid and twisted homage to his fight with the Nemean Lion, as with both his Cestus taken by Kratos, Hercules focuses more on grappling and attempting to suffocate Kratos as he's become outmatched in blows to blows. This is very similar to the tactic he supposedly used on the Lion, suffocating it because Hercules had no way of wounding the beast through its impenetrable hide.
- Hercules' jealousy of Kratos as Zeus' favorite son is quite ironic and rather delusional, considering Kratos' ascension as the God of War that Hercules coveted so much ended with Zeus stabbing his "favorite" in the stomach, and later destroying the Spartan's entire city.
- Hercules seems to have been infected by the negative emotion of jealousy to the point of irrationality, seeing how he so easily overlooked how much the bad outweighed the good in Kratos' life. Also he seems to hold a great deal of pride and arrogance, although he may have been entitled to this given his vast potential.
- Hercules' role as a champion of Hera is both fitting and ironic, as his Greek name, Heracles, translates to "Hera's pride", yet mythology states that Hera despised Heracles with extreme vigor, even for one of Zeus' illegitimate children, the name having been a choice by his mother to unsuccessfully avert this. In fact, much of Heracles' story is a result of Hera's hatred of him.
- The reason why Hera would have Hercules fight Kratos may have been spawned out of her hatred for both of them. By having them both fight one another, she was guaranteed that at least one of them would die.
- Although this is Hercules' first physical appearance in the series, he and Kratos seem to know each other well, going so far as to address each other as "brother". When he first states his intentions, Kratos tries to reason with him rather than immediately kill him, hinting Kratos may have some respect for him due to their similarities. Kratos also didn't show any sign of anger as Hercules talked, indicating he may have had sympathy for his brother's frustration in stark contrast to his usual anger when insulted or enduring a lengthy conversation.
- Hercules is the great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus who was killed by Kratos in God of War II. But Hercules appeared physically after God of War II and at the beginning of God of War III for the first time, even though not much time passed between the two meetings. This might be due to the familial lines of Greece's heroes working differently in God of War than in the myths.
- Hercules was murdered the same way Kratos was defeated by Deimos: being pounded on by a gauntlet while lying face-up defenselessly. Ironically, it was Kratos who did this to his own (half-)brother this time, but in a more brutal fashion.
- This Hercules is very similar to the character The Sovereign who is an alternate Hercules in The Legendary Journeys. He was also played by Kevin Sorbo.
- There is a large, claw shaped scar on Hercules' chest which may have been inflicted by the Nemean Lion.
- In God of War: Ghost of Sparta, there's a statue of Hercules outside the Mounts of Aroania. Kratos destroys it as he crashes into it during his battle with Erinys in her giant bird form. It wears the same helmet as Hercules.
- Hercules is seen in the Ares trailer of God of War: Ascension's multiplayer. He stands above the Arena and watches the warriors below fight, and he will sometimes jump down and cause a damaging shockwave with his Cestus.
- By the start of the Favor of the Gods (one of the multiplayer levels in God of War: Ascension), Hercules is unarmed, as his Cestus are given to him by two Satyrs, which he knocks in the arena, similar to how he pushed the Olympus Sentries in the arena in God of War III. During this appearance, his plume is slightly different as it is not made up of red fur.
- These Satyrs are the first enemies to fight the player(s) in the Trial of the Gods mode. In other modes, however, they disappear mysteriously, most likely killed by the push.
- Before Hercules attacks Kratos, he remarks that Kratos was always Zeus' favorite child. Ironically, in Greek mythology, Hercules himself is often described as Zeus' favorite.
- Hercules is featured in Destiny of Spirits.
- His unofficial 13th and final labor was to kill Kratos and to become the God of War, ironically 13 is commonly referred to as the unlucky number which would foreshadow his death at the hands of Kratos.
- Besides Deimos, Hercules is the only other sibling that Kratos' seems to have kinship with, as they openly address each other as brothers. This is possibly due to the fact that Hercules lived a very similar life to Kratos and suffered the same tragedy of having killed their own families due to the machinations of Olympians.