HomeArticlesFilm Theory: Ariel is RELATED to Hercules?! (Disney’s Connected Universe)
Film Theory: Ariel is RELATED to Hercules?! (Disney’s Connected Universe)
March 1, 2020
theme music plays Hello Internet, welcome to Film Theory. The show where I go to Hades and back to unearth the hidden truth behind movies made for children. Speaking of Hades, today we turn to an often overlooked but in my opinion tragically under appreciated Disney classic: Now granted, when it first came out in the late 90s, I didn’t go to see it because I was at an age where I was like, “Psh I’m too old for Disney movies. All the cool kids are into Digimon!” Actually that’s a complete lie… I never thought I was cool… *sad piano music* Anyway! Finally getting around to watching this for the first time, I was really excited about the cool powers and the Titans and Meg’s killer “princess song”. I gotta admit though, I was a bit disappointed not to see Sora and Sephiroth running around. Anyway, something in the back of my head kept niggling away “Niggle, Niggle” it went. Something just felt off… “Niggle, Niggle” it continued, but then it hit me: the moment I saw that fun and oh so obvious Scar Easter egg: Hercules’ is dad is Zeus, right? Zeus! Gad! Zeus! And that one single and obvious fact has HUGE ramifications for literally every Disney movie you know and love. Because if you thought Pixar had a connected universe? Well then get ready because Disney has been doing it for decades. And it all starts with good ol’ Herc. Because the man who put the ‘glad’ in ‘gladiator’, is a literal blood relative to perhaps the most popular Disney princess of all time… I’m talking ‘Fish Girl’, Ariel. They are cousins. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, my dear theorists. Tighten up those togas because you will never look at the wonderful world of Disney the same way again. First: to show you how some of Hercules’ is immortal blood is also running through Ariel’s gills, we have to go a few branches up his family tree. According to the movie, Hercules is the son of Zeus and Hera, and if we’re going by classical mythology standards that’s only partly right. First off, Hercules is his Roman name. If we’re going off of Greek mythology, Like literally everyone else in the movie, his name technically should be Heracles. But that name just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely. So for simplicity’s sake I’m just gonna call our hero by his Roman name Hercules, and the rest of the Gods by their Greek names like they do in the movie. and the rest of the Gods by their Greek names like they do in the movie. (My apologies to any classics majors with sensitive ears) (Just trying to spread the good word.) The other problem is that Hera is definitely not Hercules’ loving mother as shown in the movie. You see, Zeus was up on Olympus when he saw and fell in love with a mortal woman named Alcmene. So, he did what any rational person would do in such a situation… and disguised himself as Alcmene’s husband who was away at war, went to Alcmene’s house shouting “Honey! I’m home!” and quickly made himself a little demigod… This got a bit awkward when the real husband came home *literally* the next night, and his wife was like: “Whaaat? You weren’t… here last night?” So… yeah. Hera wasn’t a big fan of the half son whose existence was a constant reminder of her husband’s infidelity. You know those two snakes we see baby Hercules strangle in the movie, and it’s all totally cute? Well, according to legend, those weren’t minions of Hades, they were sent by Hera herself to murder baby Hercules in his crib. (Awkward…) I get that Disney doesn’t want to tell you that story… for several reasons. But is it really better for Zeus to father Hercules with Hera? Who, according to mythology, is technically his sister… *puking noise* You’d think I’d seen enough Game of Thrones at this point not to throw up in my mouth a little when I think about that, but NOPE. Hercules in the movie is on par with ‘Prince Prick’ himself. At any rate, the important bit here is Hercules’ father. Which is Zeus both in the movie and in the myths. Zeus is the son of the Titans Cronos and Rhea the same Titans which the muses tell us that he overthrew at the beginning of the movie. Cronos and Rhea had three sons, who ended up ruling the three major realms of the world: Zeus, who ruled over the heavens, Hades, ruler of the Underworld, and Poseidon, ruler of the sea. In Hercules, we get a lot of the first two, but not so much about Poseidon. But rest assured, he’s definitely there if you look closely. According to myth, Poseidon isn’t quite as active on tinder as his brother Zeus. But he has a number of notable children himself. Like Theseus, the hero who kills the Minotaur, and Triton, the Merman who serves as Trumpeter of The Sea. And some of you may be ahead of me at this point, But if you haven’t seen The Little Mermaid in a few years, let me connect the dots for ya: Ariel’s father, the guy who looks like mermaid Santa Claus, is named King Triton. Therefore, Ariel’s grandfather is Poseidon, and her great grandfather is Cronus – the Titan who is grandfather of Hercules himself. Put it all together, map out that family tree, and we have Hercules and Ariel as cousins. Now prepare yourselves for the twist. The twist is that there is no twist The twist is: that there IS NO TWIST. *dramatic drums* It’s cut dry. This isn’t a film theory, this is a film FACT. A mythological fact. Some might argue that we have no idea that this Triton is the same Triton who is nephew of Zeus, but his depiction in Little Mermaid matches pretty well the image we get of him in classical mythology: A bearded half-man half-fish who lives in a golden palace under the sea. No word on whether that golden palace has the same… Um… *clears throat* tower as we got on the original VHS cover of The Little Mermaid, but having seen my fair share of Greek arts I wouldn’t put it past them… Now this is the point in the episode where you’re probably tempted to subscribe. So you should totally do that. STAB that subscribe button down below with your giant POSEIDON FORK, and leave a comment letting me know what your favorite Disney movie is in the next five seconds. I’m not gonna do the five-four-three-two-one thing, but you know, time it out yourself. We’ll go on the honor system here. This is also the point in the episode where a lot of you are probably like: “Yeah you stupid dinglehopper who cares? It’s not like this random little Easter Egg means anything for Disney as a whole.” and you know what for as much as it hurts me to be called a fork, I respect your desire for the deeper meaning of things. And in this case, the deeper meaning is that once you start connecting Hercules and Little Mermaid, lots of other dominoes start to fall. We’ve already covered some surprising Disney connections before, like how Elsa from Frozen and Rapunzel from Tangled would technically genetically be twin sisters (click right over here if you missed out on that one) But even if you don’t believe that theory, at the very least, we see Rapunzel in the final scenes of Frozen meaning that those two worlds are connected both in time and place. And what we’ve covered in today’s episode means that we can now link those two to Hercules as well. In that past episode we mapped out how the king and queen from Frozen, Agnarr and Iduna, were killed when their ship capsized on their trip from western Norway to Germany. We don’t get the clearest look at the ship that’s carrying Agnarr and Iduna, but from the shape alone, it looks like it could be the same sunken ship Ariel is looting at the beginning of Little Mermaid. And geographically it makes a lot of sense. Assuming Agnarr and Iduna were taking a direct route from Arendelle in western Norway to the northern coast of Germany, their ship likely sank somewhere off the west coast of Denmark. Can you name where the fairy tale The Little Mermaid is based on comes from? Survey says… *ding ding* Denmark! Number one answer! and literally the only answer because it’s a just a fact It’s just a… one answer fact. The Little Mermaid is originally from the works of Hans Christian Andersen, a 19th century Danish author of children’s books and fairy tales. Now, that doesn’t outright prove that Disney’s Little Mermaid is set in Denmark, but we do have other clues… remember Prince Eric’s crusty caretaker Grimsby? Well, Grimsby is a Danish name coming from the name that the Nordic god Odin would take when he disguised himself as a human to hit on women. Side note! What is with the gods dressing up his people to mack on human beings? You know what the best pick-up line in the world is? “I’m a god. I literally control some giant element of nature.” You know what if she’s not impressed with that, Hey, she wasn’t worth your time buddy. You were too good for her to begin with. Now astute bridge viewers might argue that Grimsby is also the name of a town in northeastern England, which is definitely true, but it’s also true that this town was established in the 9th century A.D. by… Danish. Vikings. So with all these clues in place, we could be like 99% confident that Hercules connects with Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Frozen. And if you think this is as far as the connections go, You ain’t seen nothing yet. The Little Mermaid also features a couple of important characters we’ve seen in one of Disney’s all time classics. Late in the movie, Prince Eric is about to marry Ursula in her human disguise, when Scuttle and the other sea creatures crash the wedding. In the chaos that ensues, we see Eric’s dog, Max, run across the screen. And for a split second behind him, we can catch a glimpse of two wedding guests who should look pretty familiar: The King and the Grand Duke from Cinderella. But now we’re just connecting these movies in one long chain by saying that Hercules is related to The Little Mermaid and that The Little Mermaid is related to the rest. Surely there’s nothing to suggest that a movie like Cinderella can be connected back to Hercules, a movie about Ancient Greece that was released almost 50 years later, right? We-e-e-elll, Check this out: In an early scene of Cinderella, The King is complaining to the Grand Duke about how his son won’t settle down and give him grandchildren. For a brief moment, we see that the king has three books on his desk: One by the French Renaissance author, Francois Rabelais, which makes sense given that the original version of Cinderella was by a French author, another by the Greek philosopher, Plato, And the last by the Greek poet, Homer. In the modern world, only two epic poems are attributed to Homer: The Iliad, about the Trojan War, and the Odyssey, about Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War. And guess who shows up in both of those poems And guess who shows up in both of those poems: Hercules. Well, actually it’s Heracles because Homer was Greek, but we’ve been over that already. Hercules’ ghost meets Odysseus when the latter travels to the Underworld in Book Eleven of the Odyssey, and although Hercules doesn’t actively do anything in the Iliad he’s mentioned by name several times regardless of which book in particular this is, the connections we talked about today prove that Cinderella is set in a world in which the stories of Greek mythology actually exist. And based on the connections we talked about today, we know that those stories aren’t just stories… They’re not just myths! They really happened in the past, and if we can connect stories seemingly as unrelated as Hercules and Cinderella, I’d say it’s likely that we’re just scratching the surface here. Could Elsa’s ice powers have come from an Ancient Greek ancestor? Could Rapunzel’s healing hair have any relation to Hercules? Is the existence of magic in the wonderful world of Disney somehow tied to all of these mythological allusions? Everyone has known for a long time the careful attention to detail Disney puts into its animations. But if we can put Hercules, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Frozen, AND Cinderella all into the same universe, can we really say that any other Disney movies are outliers? There is no telling how deep this rabbit hole goes. And you can bet that this is a topic we’re gonna continue to explore in upcoming episodes. So again, if you enjoyed this episode make sure you spear that subscribe button. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a few more questions to get answered. Like if Triton is Ariel’s father… What happened to her mother? I think I may have spotted her in Never Neverland. But hey, that’s just a theory, a film theory! Aaaaaaand cut! Hey if you enjoyed this theory amidst the Tangled-Frozen episode I mentioned earlier, make sure you click on that one. Find out how Anna and Elsa aren’t technically sisters. Or if you’re looking for some more classic Disney action, click the box to the right which will tell you the truth behind Snow White’s sleeping death. It will literally blow your mind. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s really hot in my recording closet because it is just sweltering in California. So I need a drink of water before I pass out.