Warning: This article contains spoilers for Thor: Profit and Thunder! Be sure to check out IGN’s full review of the latest Thor movie.
Thor: Love and Thunder reveal that Zeus (Russell Crowe) and his fellow Greek gods actually exist in the MCU. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the sequel ends with a mid-credits scene that introduces the most famous Olympian among them – Hercules. And it turns out that Hark Ted Lasso starred none other than Brett Goldstein. (Click this way for our complete Thor: Profit and Thunder Ending have been explained.)
Although Goldstein appears for only a few seconds, it is clear that his character is being set as a new adversary in Thor’s life. With that in mind, it’s worth taking a step back to explore Hercules ’role in the Marvel Comics Universe, his history with Thor, and how he will play a key role in the future of MCU. We cover these issues here:
Who is Marvel’s Hercules?
Before the Marvel Universe was overflowing with dressed superheroes, it was full of various Pantheon gods. And few gods are revered like the mighty Hercules. The Marvel version of Hercules is basically the same image from various 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 quick to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Harak is a lot like Thor, not that it has stopped the two from being dizzy for centuries.
Hercules: His power and authority
Greek mythology portrays Hercules as much stronger and more skilled at battle than any other mortal, and this is certainly true for the Marvel version. Thanks to his divine source, Hark has incredible physical strength – enough to make him a match for Thor and even hold his own in the fight against the Hulk. He is blessed with immortality, invulnerability and other simple abilities like increased speed and healing.
Hark’s power and immortality can be taken away from him in the past. However, even in his mortal form, Hark is one of the most skilled fighters in the Marvel Universe, literally spending thousands of years honoring his craft on the battlefield. He also has an arsenal of magical weapons made by Hepheastion. His favorite weapon is a golden indomitable mace.
History of Hercules in the Marvel Universe
Among the many iconic Marvel heroes created by Hercules Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His first official Marvel appearance came at the 1965 Journey into Mystery Annual # 1. Another version of Hercules appeared in The Avengers # 10 last year, but that character has since emerged as a cheater.
The Marvel version of Hercules is closely related to the popular Greek myth. Arguably closer than Thor, who is a kind of jerk in most Norse stories. Hercules is the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcamena. He was originally raised by his human parents as Alcayas before he became aware of his divine heritage and adopted the name Heracles. But since Hera, Zeus’ wife, often targeted Heracles, she eventually changed her name to Hercules.
Hark’s formative years were full of many exploits that have since become elements of legend. He teamed up with Jason and Argonauts to find the fabulous Golden Fleece. He took twelve of his labors to prove himself worthy of immortality. However, although he enjoys the fame that comes with this achievement, Hercules is very aware of the fact that reality and myth do not always come together.
In the modern Marvel era, Hercules first appeared as Thor’s enemy, but the two quickly sidestepped their differences and helped Thor save Hark from ruling the kingdom of Hades forever. Hercules later joined the Avengers and also served as a member of the Champions, regularly proving his prowess with the most powerful heroes in the world.
Although Marvel published several Hercules-centric miniseries in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the 2007 series The Incredible Hercules that he became a truly single leader. The book connects Hark with the teenage genius Amadeus Cho, as both flee for the Hulk crossover incident of World War II. This is a comic that has created a very popular internet meme.
During that series, Harak and Amadeus fight enemies like the scroll god, Hera, and the Japanese god Amatsu Mikaboshi, causing Harak to finally sacrifice his divine power to rebuild the universe. Harak has regained his strength and continues to fight for the protection of humanity. Recently, though, his adventures have taken him away from Earth as a member of the new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Hercules in Marvel TV and games
Although Hercules is currently making his debut in live-action Marvel, he has appeared on several Marvel animated and video game projects.
Television: Hercules first appeared in 1966’s The Marvel Super Heroes, where he sang Lane Berman and played a recurring role in the show’s “Mighty Thor” section. He then starred in Fox’s X-Men and Fantastic Four animated series in the 90’s, including Silent Cameo and Hulk and the Agents of Smash (voiced by Townsend Coleman) and Avengers: Secret Wars (voiced by Matthew Mercer).
Games: Hercules is a 2009 Marvel: Boss character in Ultimate Alliance 2, largely based on Marvel’s Civil War comics. He is also a playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance and has a presence in the Marvel Super Hero Squad: Infinity Gauntlet and the now extinct Marvel Heroes.
Hercules of Brett Goldstein at MCU
Thor: Love and Thunder follows the example of most MCU movies and teases a big, impending conflict in its mid-credit scene. There, we see Russell Crowe’s Zeus (wounded, but not dead), lamenting that humanity no longer respects and fears the gods of Olympus. Instead, they only care about the superheroes wearing their costumes. With the help of his super-strong son Hercules – none other than Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein – Zeus’s goal is to remind people why they once feared the gods.
The obvious way here is that Zeus and Hercules return to a fifth Thor movie, where Thor and his allied Asgardians are forced to intervene in a battle between Olympus and Midgard. Although it’s possible that Marvel Studios is teasing an individual Hercules movie instead, or perhaps a team like Thunderbolts or The Avengers 5 is creating a conflict for the movie.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Every upcoming movie and TV show
Either way, we can expect Hercules to play a more hostile role in the MCU when he first resurrects. It is clearly a god who has lost contact with his people and survives only for the thrill of war and battle. But if the comics are any indication, Harak will surely blend in over time. He realizes Zeus is wrong about humanity. Maybe he will borrow a page or two from Thor’s own history and become the guardian of the mortal kingdom instead of his destroyer.
Goldstein’s Hercules may have started as a villain in Thor 5, but we doubt he will eventually leave behind him and Thor Med’s flag and swap stories. After all, we can only hope that an incredible Hercules series is on Disney + cards.
Thor: To learn more about Profit and Thunder, how to watch the MCU sequel and explore the legacy of the original Thor movie.
Jesse is a gentlemanly staff writer for IGN. Allow him to borrow a clue from your intellectual bush @Jschedeen is following on Twitter.