Ever since Disney's Hercules came out, it's been one of our favorite movies, which has led to some problems, because we somehow always manage to find ourselves in groups of self-proclaimed Greek mythology experts, who are always criticizing the movie, regardless of the movie's actual merit or lack thereof, "because they ruined the story."
Our arguments to this have always been, number one, the actual Hercules myth is one of the more boring ones, we felt. And two, even if they could fit all twelve tasks into a Disney movie, they're not going to have Hera be the villain because she's jealous of another woman, because that would require Zeus to be sleeping around. We can't have Zeus sleeping around in a kids' movie! Where do you think we are? Japan?
Generally people will concede to those points, and then say, "But I just don't understand why they had to make Hades the villain. Just because he's the god of the Underworld doesn't mean he's evil." We do agree with that point.
My reasoning on it was that they needed someone to be the villain, and Hades makes a lot of sense for the non-Greek mythology studying masses. Kind of like how in Disney's Robin Hood, there was some argument over making the Sheriff of Nottingham a wolf, because wolves are actually very noble, non-villainous animals. Some of the animators wanted to make him a goat, because they actually have some traits in common with the Sheriff. But they ended up going with wolf, because they were keeping the audience in mind, and thought that most people would respond better to a wolf villain.
So that's been my assumption for the past few years, but lately I've been thinking about it again--not exactly sure why. The thought occurred to me that any other god or goddess as the villain would have given the same reaction as Hades--"Why did they make them the villain? Just because they're the god of (insert domain here) doesn't mean they're evil" --only probably from more people. Except for Hera, because she's the villain in the original, but we already went over that. Then Athena pointed out Ares, and I'm like, "Oh. Duh." It figures that Athena would think of Ares.
Thinking about it now, though, there might be people who would be like, "Just because he's the god of war doesn't mean he's evil." Because people are weird and like to find reasons why other people are wrong, especially when it's something so mainstream as Disney.
So I was thinking about it last night, and I realized the obvious reason why Hades has to be the villain.
It all has to do with the message they're trying to get across. "A hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." In order to get that message across, they have to show Hercules doing something that would involve a real sacrifice. He spent half the movie fighting monsters and saving the world, but none of that was really hard for him. That would be like saying I'm a hero with a big heart because I translate manga. Heck, I would do that if there was no one else on the planet... except that then there would be no manga to translate.
Anyway, the best way to really test Hercules's heart was to have him give up his life for someone else. What scripture is that? For greater love hath no man than this, that he give up his life for a friend. I don't know if I quoted that right, but it's along those lines.
And the way Hercules had been trained, and with his super strength, they couldn't just strap Meg to a rock and make Hercules fight off a monster. He does that every day. The only way Hercules could face certain death would be to face the god of death himself. And that's why Hades had to be the villain.
And now it all makes sense. Or it does to me, anyway.