Warning: This article contains spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder! Definitely see Full review of IGN’s latest Thor movie.
Thor: Love and Thunder reveals that Zeus (Russell Crowe) and his fellow Greek gods, in fact, exist in MCU. So it’s a little surprising that the sequel ends with a middle-credited scene that introduces the most famous Olympian of all – Hercules. And it turns out that Hark’s role is none other than Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein. (Click this route for our completion Thor: Explanation of the end of love and thunder.)
While Goldstein only appears for a few seconds, it is clear that his character is being established as a new adversary in Thor’s life. With that in mind, it’s worth taking a step back to learn about Hercules’ role in the Marvel Comics Universe, his history with Thor, and how important he will be in the future of MCU. These are the topics we covered here:
Who is Hercules of Marvel?
Before the crowd of superheroes dressed in the Marvel Universe, they were filled with gods of different deities. And some deities, like the mighty Hercules, are revered. Hercules’ version of Marvel is basically the same figure from different myths and legends. He is an incredibly strong, immortal warrior who travels the world in search of adventure and fame. But unlike many of his fellow Olympians, Hercules has a noble heart and is always ready to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Hark is the same as Thor, not that it has stopped the two from pulling on the head for centuries.
Hercules: His power and ability
Greek myths portray Hercules as more powerful and more skilled at battle than any mortal, and this is certainly true for the Marvel version. Thanks to his divine origins, Hark has incredible physical strength – enough for him to confront Thor and hold himself back in the fight against the Hulk. He is also blessed with immortality, impenetrability and other easy abilities like enhanced speed and healing.
Hark’s power and immortality can be taken away from him in the past. However, even in its mortal form, Hark is one of the most skilled fighters in the Marvel Universe, having spent literally thousands of years glorifying his art on the battlefield. He also has an arsenal of magic weapons made by Hepheastion. The weapon of his choice is the golden mallet.
History of Hercules in the Marvel Universe
Hercules is one of the many iconic Marvel heroes created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His first official Marvel appearance was in 1965’s Journey to Mystery Annual # 1. A second version of Hercules appeared in The Avengers # 10 last year, but it has since been revealed that the character is a heretic.
Hercules’ version of Marvel is closely related to popular Greek myths. In most Norse stories, a kind of shock is undoubtedly closer than Thor. Hercules is the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcemena. He was originally nurtured by his human parents under the name Alcaius before he became aware of his divine heritage and took the name Heracles. But since Hera, Zeus’ wife, often targeted Hercules, he eventually changed his name to Hercules.
Hark’s early years were filled with many exploits that have since become the stuff of legend. He worked with Jason and Argonauts to find the legendary Golden Fleece. He worked twelve times to prove himself worthy of immortality. But Hercules is aware that although he is famous for his deeds, reality and myth do not always match.
In the modern Marvel era, Hercules first emerges as Thor’s enemy, but the two quickly put aside their differences and Thor helps save Hark from spending eternity on Hades’ kingdom. Hercules later joins the Avengers and also serves as a member of the Champions, regularly proving his prowess with the most powerful heroes on earth.
Although Marvel published a handful of Hercules-centric mini-series in the 80’s, it didn’t really come out as a single lead until the 2007 The Incredible Hercules series. The book connects Hark’s teenage genius with Amadius Cho, as both become fugitives from the events of the World War Hulk crossover. It is also the comic that created the very popular internet meme.
During that series, Hark and Amadeus fight enemies such as the scroll god, Hera, and the Japanese god Amatsu Mikaboshi, Hark eventually renounces his divine power to rebuild the universe. Hark has since regained his strength and continues to fight for the protection of humanity. Even more recently, his adventures have taken him away from Earth as a member of the new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Hercules in Marvel’s TV and games
Although Hercules is currently making his live-action Marvel debut, he has appeared in many of Marvel’s animated and video game projects.
TV: Hercules first appeared in The Marvel Superheroes of 1966, where he was voiced by Lane Birman and played a recurring role in the show’s “Mighty Thor” sections. He then had a silent cameo in Fox’s X-Men and Fantastic Four animated series in the 90’s, and starred in Hulk and Agent of Smash (voiced by Townsend Coleman) and Avengers: Secret Wars (voiced by Matthew Mercer).
Games: Hercules is the boss character in Marvel 2009: Ultimate Alliance 2, based on Marvel’s Civil War comics. He is also a playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance, and has appeared in Marvel Super Hero Squad: Infinity Gauntlet and now-defunct Marvel Heroes.
Brett Goldstein’s Hercules in MCU
Thor: Love and Thunder follows the example of most MCU movies and sparks a major, upcoming conflict in its mid-credit scenes. There, we see Russell Crowe’s Zeus (wounded, but not dead), mourning that humanity no longer respects the gods of Olympus and is not afraid of them. Instead, they just care about their costume superheroes. None other than Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein – with the help of his super-strong son Hercules – Zeus aims to remind humans why humans once feared the gods.
The obvious premise here is that Zeus and Hercules will return to the fifth Thor film, forcing Thor and his ally Asgardian to intervene in the battle between Olympus and Midgard. Marvel Studios is either touting the standalone Hercules movie instead or maybe fighting for a team movie like The Thunderbolts or The Avengers 5.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Every upcoming movie and TV show
Either way, we can expect Hercules to play a more antagonistic role in the MCU when he first resurrects. It is clearly a god who has lost contact with his human side and lives only for the thrill of war and battle. But if the comics have any hints, the Hark will definitely slow down over time. He may realize that Zeus is wrong about humanity. Perhaps he will borrow one or two pages from Thor’s own history and become a protector of the mortal realm instead of his destroyer.
Goldstein’s Hercules may start as a villain in Thor 5, but we doubt that he and Thor will eventually return the flag of Mead and Swap stories. After that, we can only hope that the cards on Disney + will have an incredible Hercules series.
For more on Thor: Love and Thunder, find out how to watch the MCU sequel and explore the legacy of the original Thor movie.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend you a match in your intellectual bag @Jschedeen is following on Twitter.