Sometimes seeing our heroes as villains can be worth wile to contrast how heroic they are compared to how villainous they can be. At the very least, it can sometimes be a fun change of pace. The following are examples of Hercules as an antagonist if not an outright villain. What are your thoughts on them? Do you find any of them particularly more vile than the others? Do you like any of them? Any you wish had never been created? Any major ones I missed?
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: This show's version of Hercules was one of the most clear-cut morally upstanding so it is perhaps only fitting his evil version would be one of if not the most villainous. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Sovereign. Hercules's evil counterpart from a parallel world. A tyrant who made his best friend his court jester, tortured and executed people with ease, and poisoned Zeus to nearly become king of the gods. Trapped between worlds where he battled the good version of Hercules to a draw. Eventually, killed by Ares to reestablish the latter as a badass. Definitly, the most evil of the Hercules here. IIRC, in his favor he did care for his family and their deaths either made him a tyrant or made him worse.
God of War: A literal giant of a man. (Seriously, he towers over Kratos making him at least ten feet or more.) This Hercules is the strongest being in his universe and one of the few Kratos was hesitant to fight. Whether due to fear or a mutual history of being screwed by the gods is unknown. This Hercules resented Kratos being made into the greatest hero in all of Greece and a god while Herc was stuck doing labors he saw a beneath him. He desired to win Zeus' favor by killing Kratos and becoming the new God of War.
It is speculated he and the other Olympians became infected with various evils clouding their thinking. Herc was probably infected with jealousy/envy. Of course, Kratos destroying the world could have been enough for Hercules to try and stop him. He did win a temporary ko, but stopped to gloat instead of finishing the deed. Also, carries the lion motif as a side from the Cestus he considers the slaying of the Nemean Lion one of the few labors worthy of him.
I would say this Hercules is more of an antagonist than an outright villain.
DC Comics: Thanks to all of the reboots I don't know all the details about this version. I believe it is Post-Crisis that raped Hippolyta and was condemned by Zeus to hold up Themysicara until Wonder Woman freed him. What little I have read of him portrays him as an arrogant jerk with none of the charm of Marvel's version. He tends to be a petty schemer at times as well. For what little it may be worth, he seems to at times regret his evil actions and is trapped in a cycle of crime and punishment. In a way, he comes across as more stupid than anything by being constantly manipulated by others (Hera, Ares, Circe) into committing evil actions and then punished for his actions.
Did he have a Pre-Crisis version? And if anybody knows, if Hera was responsible for driving DC Hercules crazy to murder his family how in the world did Wonder Woman rationalize that action of her “beloved goddess?”
Heroes Of Olympus: The second book series by Rick Riordan featuring Greek mythology in a modern setting. It took them long enough, but they finally introduced their version of Hercules. This one tends to be very different than common portrayals. While we usually see him with a thick beard wearing the lion skin this one prefers robes and scruff, at least in modern times. Thanks to remaining almost unchanged from the transition from Greece to Rome he doesn't suffer the same multiple personality problems of the other gods.
He is more of a situational antagonist than a real villain. Imagine the crappy mortal life Hercules had and add on a crappy immortal life. Despite all this Hercules did it was never enough to live up to expectations as a son of Zeus. Upon death, Zeus made him a MINOR god. Dionysus was made into a major one. Zeus left him guarding the doorway to the ancient lands. (The gods move from country to country and by modern times are in America). So Hercules is stuck on a practically deserted island for all eternity with nothing to do but reflect on the failings of his mortal life and test the occasional hero who comes by. His legacy in the mortal world are (in his view) crappy movies, like a certain Disney one, or as some brainless barbarian with the other gods constantly looking down on him. To top it off, the only other inhabitant of the island is the river-god Achelous. Some god thought it would be good idea to put the two on the same island. Hercules reminds Achelous of his failing to win the hand of Deinara and save her and Achelous further reminds Hercules of his failings in life. Even Achelous admits the injustice of Hercules being made to pay for Hera's crimes.
In the book itself, Hercules is stated be the most powerful demigod who ever lived and to normally go easy on passing demigods due to his own experience with King Eurystheus. He only becomes more of an antagonist due to his hatred of Hera and the book's heroes unfortunately being forced to work for her.
All in all, you have a bitter, resentful half-insane demigod who hates Hera, finds Zeus annoying at best, looked down upon by the other gods, and stuck on a deserted island for all time save for a hated enemy. I can't really blame the guy.
So, how do they compare to the Marvel Hercules we all know and love?