Warning: This article contains spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder! Be sure to check out IGN’s full review of the latest Thor movie.
Thor: Love and Thunder reveals that Zeus (Russell Crowe) and his fellow Greek gods do, in fact, exist in the MCU. So it comes as little surprise that the sequel ends with a mid-credits scene that introduces the most famous Olympian of them all – Hercules. And it turns out Herc is played by none other than Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein. (Click this way for our full Thor: Love and Thunder Ending Explained.)
While Goldstein only appears for a few seconds, it’s clear his character is being set up as a new antagonist 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’ll likely factor into the future of the MCU. These are the topics we cover here:
- Thor: Love and Thunder After the Credits – Who Is Brett Goldstein’s Hercules?
- Hercules: His Powers and Abilities
- Hercules’ History in the Marvel Universe
- Hercules in Marvel’s TV and Games
- Brett Goldstein’s Hercules in the MCU
Marvel’s Hercules: An Incredible Journey From Myth to Avenger
Thor: Love and Thunder After the Credits – Who Is Brett Goldstein’s Hercules?
Before the Marvel Universe became overcrowded with costumed superheroes, it was full of gods from many different pantheons. And few gods command as much respect as the mighty Hercules. Marvel’s version of Hercules is essentially the same figure from the various myths and legends. He’s 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 come to the defense of those who can’t defend themselves. Herc is a lot like Thor, not that this has stopped the two from butting heads over the centuries.
Herc is a lot like Thor, not that this has stopped the two from butting heads over the centuries.
Hercules: His Powers and Abilities
The Greek myths paint Hercules as far stronger and more skilled in battle than any mortal, and that’s certainly true for the Marvel version. Thanks to his divine origins, Herc has incredible physical strength – enough to make him a match for Thor and even hold his own in battle against the Hulk. He’s also blessed with other handy abilities like immortality, invulnerability and enhanced speed and healing.
Herc’s strength and immortality can and have been taken away from him in the past. However, even in his mortal form, Herc is among the most skilled fighters in the Marvel Universe, having spent literally thousands of years honing his craft on the battlefield. He also has an arsenal of enchanted weapons forged by Hephaestus. His weapon of choice is a golden adamantine mace.
Hercules’ History in the Marvel Universe
Hercules is among the many iconic Marvel heroes created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. His first official Marvel appearance came in 1965’s Journey Into Mystery Annual #1. Another version of Hercules appeared the previous year in The Avengers #10, but that character has since been revealed to be an impostor.
Marvel’s version of Hercules sticks fairly closely to the popular Greek myths. Arguably closer than Thor, who’s kind of a jerk in most Norse tales. Hercules is the son of Zeus and a mortal woman named Alcmena. He was originally raised by his human parents under the name Alcaeus, before becoming aware of his divine heritage and taking the name Herakles. But because Zeus’ wife Hera often made Herakles the target of her wrath, he eventually changed his name to Hercules instead.
Hercules rivals Thor for the crown of “mightiest Avenger.”
Herc’s formative years were filled with many exploits that have since become the stuff of legend. He teamed up with Jason and the Argonauts to find the fabled Golden Fleece. He undertook his Twelve Labors in order to prove himself worthy of immortality. But though he enjoys the fame that comes with these accomplishments, Hercules is all too aware of the fact that reality and myth don’t always line up.
Hercules first surfaces in the modern Marvel era as an enemy to Thor, but the two quickly put aside their differences, and Thor helps save Herc from spending an eternity stuck ruling over the realm Hades. Hercules later joins the Avengers and also serves as a member of the Champions, regularly proving his valor alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Though Marvel published a handful of Hercules-centric miniseries in the ’80s, he didn’t truly come into his own as a solo lead until the 2007 series The Incredible Hercules. That book pairs Herc with teen genius Amadeus Cho, as both become fugitives thanks to the events of the World War Hulk crossover. It’s also the comic that spawned a very popular Internet meme.
In case you ever wondered where this meme was born.
Over the course of that series, Herc and Amadeus battle enemies like the Skrull gods, Hera and the Japanese god Amatsu Mikaboshi, with Herc eventually sacrificing his godly power to rebuild the universe. Herc has since regained his strength and continues to fight in defense of humanity. Though lately, his adventures have taken him away from Earth as a member of the newest incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Hercules in Marvel’s TV and Games
Though Hercules is just now making his live-action Marvel debut, he has appeared in a number of Marvel’s animated and video game projects.
TV: Hercules first appeared in 1966’s The Marvel Super Heroes, where he was voiced by Len Birman and played a recurring part in the show’s “Mighty Thor” segments. He then had silent cameos in Fox’s X-Men and Fantastic Four animated series in the ’90s and larger roles in Hulk and the Agents of SMASH (voiced by Townsend Coleman) and Avengers: Secret Wars (voiced by Matthew Mercer).
Games: Hercules is a boss character in 2009’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, which is heavily based on Marvel’s Civil War comics. He’s also a playable character in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance and has appearances in Marvel Super Hero Squad: Infinity Gauntlet and the now-defunct Marvel heroes.
Brett Goldstein’s Hercules in the MCU
Thor: Love and Thunder follows the example of most MCU movies by teasing a major, upcoming conflict in its mid-credits 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, all they care about are their costumed superheroes. With the help of his super-strong son Hercules – played by none other than Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein – Zeus aims to remind humans why they once feared the gods.
The obvious takeaway here is that Zeus and Hercules will return in a fifth Thor movie, with Thor and his fellow Asgardians forced to intervene in a war between Olympus and Midgard. Though it’s also possible Marvel Studios is teasing a standalone Hercules movie instead, or possibly setting up a conflict 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 resurfaces. This is clearly a god who’s lost touch with his human side and lives only for war and the thrill of battle. But if the comics are any indication, Herc will surely mellow out with time. He may come to realize Zeus is wrong about humanity. Maybe he’ll borrow a page or two from Thor’s own history and become the defender of the mortal realm rather than its destroyer.
Goldstein’s Hercules may start out as a villain in Thor 5, but we suspect by the end he and Thor will be knocking back flagons of mead and swapping stories. After that, we can only hope an Incredible Hercules series is in the cards on Disney+.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.