Firstly, I have to thank regular commenter Lupin the 8th for sending me the media file that allowed me to finally (finally) cross this review off the old list.
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starring Kevin Sorbo was a TV series that ran from 1995 to 1999 that dared to ask the question: what if Greek mythology was Baywatch?
It was an occasionally entertaining, perenially stupid mid-nineties hunk of cheese now best remembered it’s much more influential spin-off show. Lucy Lawless appeared as a villain in Hercules before audiences said “More hot lady in the leather who kicks ass please” and Xena the Warrior Princess was born. Basically think “Distaff Hercules with more nineties ‘tude and the blatant homoeroticism delivered with a saucy wink instead of a slack-jawed stare”.
It was, simultaneously, a hugely important and influential chapter in the history of women in television and a queer cultural touchstone and dumb as all hell. This was the show that depicted Abraham and Julius Caesar as contemporaries despite the fact that Abraham was more ancient to Julius Caesar than Julius Caesar is to us.
Together, these two shows formed a kind of mini-television universe…
Okay, focus. Focus.
The final, second-least weird part of this mini multimedia franchise is today’s movie is the animated feature Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie-The Battle for Mount Olympus or HXTAMTBMO for short. This movie came out in 1998, which I find significant because the previous year saw the release of a certain other, beloved, animated depiction of Hercules. Oh yeah, you know the one I’m talking about.
Seriously though, while you might be tempted to view HXTAMTBMO as a cheap cash in on Disney’s Hercules there was actually some talent behind this one. It was directed by Lynne Naylor who was one of the co-founders of Spümcø animation (the Ren and Stimpy lads) and who worked on Batman: The Animated Series. It was produced by Sam Raimi, had the main cast of the show on hand to voice their roles and scripting duties were handled by John Loy who wrote for Pinky and the Brain. Okay! Not a bad bench of talent. This could be good? Right? Right?
Guys, let me level with you. I’ve spent four years trying to track this movie down. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about animated movies it’s this; cartoons are like a politician’s tax returns. If someone’s trying to hide them, it’s not because they’re just so damned good.
The movie opens with a musical number sung by five sirens telling the story of how Zeus cast down the Titans told through the motif of the illustrations on a Grecian urn. I dunno, does that sound familiar to you?
Fair’s fair though, first impressions for me were actually quite good. The animation is limited but has this cool, stylised look that reminds me of Genndy Tartatovsky’s early stuff. And the song isn’t bad either. I mean, it’s no Gospel Truth (“Disney’s Hercules has the most under-rated songbook in the canon: Discuss”) but it does a good job of setting up the story. One thing that bugs me though. We get the whole business with Zeus and the Titans and then a run-down of Hercules origin. Know who doesn’t even warrant a mention? HINT: It’s the person who gets rather conspicuously lesser billing in the opening title.
Kind of funny given the relative impact of both series long term. Anyway, the sirens tell us that Hercules was born after Zeus descended from the heavens to take “a mortal bride”.
Okay, so this movie is more faithful to the original Greek myths than Disney’s Hercules but the same come be said of fucking Downton Abbey. I mean fine, this is supposed to be family friendly and you can’t really have Zeus impersonating his great-grand daughter’s husband in order to commit rape by fraud but “his bride?”. C’mon.
So our story begins with Hercules battling a huge sea serpent for some local villagers who reward him with a lifetime supply of fish. Herc then leaves the village with his lover, Iolaus. What? You think they’re not lovers? Hey Plutarch!
There, you calling Plutarch a liar? Oh, funny story (and by funny, I mean incredibly grim). Remember Megara?
In the original myths, Hercules straight up GIVES her to Iolaus when he was still a teenager and she was in her thirties and he became her second husband. Hercules did this because, after Hera had driven him insane and caused him to kill his own children, his marriage to Megara had become super awks.
Until my goddamned dying day I will never know why Disney looked at these stories and thought they would be a good fit for their brand.
Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked by all these mythical digressions because honestly? Very little happens in this movie. Hercules fights the sea-serpent. He gets some fish. Hercules and Iolaus are ambushed by bandits. They beat the bandits. There’s no plot being advanced here, it’s just stuff happening. That said, Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst are both surprisingly good fits for animation vocally. Sorbo especially, I’m kinda surprised he didn’t end up doing more voicework.
Anyway, we cut to a seedy tavern where Xena and her girlfriend Gabrielle…oh, you don’t believe me? Plutarch?!
Thank you. Anyway, the non-platonic gal pals are beating up some satyrs with old-fashioned ideas of romance when Xena is approached by Ares, God of Bros. Ares tells Xena that Hercules is heading to Thebes to visit his mother but that he’s walking into a trap. Ares wants Xena to stop him but Xena isn’t having any of it, telling him that she knows it’s just another one of his tricks. And it was this scene that made me realise…I may actually kinda like this cartoon? There’s a real wit to the facial animation, particularly Ares’ affronted reaction to being called a sneaky bastard.
Xena storms out and we see that the tavern she was drinking in was apparently some kind of Ewok bar.
Meanwhile, in Thebes, Herc and Iolaus are doing some farmwork for Herc’s mother Alcmena when the look up to see Zeus flying down from Mount Olympus. Zeus picks up Alcmena and carries her back to Olympus without so much as a by your leave. Hercules sets off to rescue her, but Iolaus points out that Alcmena seemed perfectly happy to go with Zeus which Hercules does not take well, and here’s where the Spümcø influence really becomes apparent.
Oh the way to Olympus, they meet Aphrodite, who warns Herc that he’s not the only one angry about Zeus moving Alcmena into the family home. Hera is super pissed and is plotting revenge because she is sooooo evil.
Hera demands to know where Zeus has stowed his girlfriend and he shakes his fist at her and yells “You forget to whom you are speaking! I am Zeus! King of the Gods!” and good thing too because otherwise we might well forget. Zeus is a character who’s been played by such cinematic greats as Laurence Olivier, Liam Neeson, Rip Torn and Sean Bean. This performance…is not of that calibre. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is probably the least impressive Zeus in the history of Western civilization.
Hera snarls “King of the gods, but for how long?” and Zeus turns his back on her, which is really the last thing you should do to someone throwing off those kinda vibes and when he turns back Hera has made off with the Kronos stone, a massively powerful artifact that was just sitting in his throne room completely unguarded. My, that Hera. She’s a crafty one.
Back on sea level, there’s a massive earthquake and Hercules has to rescue a small boy who’s fallen into a chasm. He holds the massive tectonic plates apart and we get to see animated Kevin Sorbo’s O-face oh joy untrammelled.
While that’s going on, Xena and Gabrielle try and stop some looters and then…a big Indiana Jones boulder just shows up out of frickin’ nowhere. Seriously, it’s just rolling towards them without so much as an introduction. Xena leaps on the boulder which starts rolling towards the looters and she yells “get out of the way!”. But then it hits one of them and she yells “take that!” so I guess she’s trying to brutally murder them now?
Back in the village, Herc and Iolaus rescue the child and then watch in horror as a titan named Porphyrion emerges from the Earth. We now get a weird scene where Porphyrion demands that Hercules lets him pass even though he could literally step over him without his ballsack so much as tussling Herc’s perfectly coiffed mane. He tells Herc that he has no quarrel with mortals and that he only wants to kill Zeus. And then Herc makes him promise to leave the mortals alone and only attack Zeus. And then…they almost fight even though they have literally nothing to fight over.
But then Porphyrion just wanders off and summons the other titans. There’s a water titan, a wind titan, a lava titan and my oh my where did they come with such an original concept? Seriously though, I’m surprised Disney’s Titans didn’t take them to court.
Get it? Because they used to yell “Zeu…” that joke doesn’t work in text, does it? You have to imagine them doing the voice. Imagine them doing the voice and it’s funny.
Zeus tells Ares, Aprhodite and Artemis that the titans are coming to Olympus looking to make trouble. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem but with the Chronostone missing they’re sitting ducks. Hera shows up and reminds them all that there is a prophecy that states that a hero of mortal blood could defend Olympus from the titans and muses that Hercules would be the perfect choice but, oops, Zeus just went and kidnapped his mother so he’s probably not in the mood to help. She then cackles evilly because, let’s be honest, that is pretty funny.
Aphrodite goes down to the base of the mountain to try and convince Hercules to put his life on the line to save his deadbeat rapist Dad and Herc is all “No. Hell no”.
Meanwhile Ares and Artemis try to convince Xena to do their bidding but they’re not bothering with any of the “politely asking” shit. They are Greek gods, dammit, and they know that if you want to get something done you have to be a total asshole and also some animal transformation probably wouldn’t go amiss. So Artemis turns Gabrielle into a giant eagle. Not just an eagle, but the most hardcore looking eagle straight of the official crest of the US Department of Badass.
Xena is understandably upset that her bird is now an eagle, and the cartoon now takes the totally obvious path of ramping up the sexual tension between them to eleven. Oh, I am not kidding.
Gabrielle and Xena fly up to Mount Olympus and Xena attacks Ares, snarling “of all the tricks the gods have ever played on mortals, this is the lowest!”
Artemis explains that she was the one who turned Gabrielle into a majestic monarch of the sky and says that if she helps them defeat the titans she’ll turn Gabrielle back and everyone will be happy like at the end of Beauty and the Beast.
Okay, so the titans attack and kick the Olympians’ asses harder than Paul of Tarsus. Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite and Athena flee the burning ruins of Mount Olympus while Xena calls after them “Stay and fight, you cowards!” and damn, wanting to stay and fight on when the the LITERAL GOD OF WAR has wimped out…that’s impressive.
Hercules and Iolaus arrive at Olympus and Hercules finds Alcmena and rescues her, with Porphyrion honourably allowing Hercules to pass unharmed. Xena and Iolaus are cornered by titans, but Gabrielle swoops down and flies them off to safety, leaving Hera and the titans to triumphantly rule over the ashes of Olympus.
Back in Thebes, Alcmena chews Hercules out for not lifting a finger to help save Olympus and tells him that she was there of her own free will which puts Herc in a right snit.
They’re interrupted by Zeus and are shocked to discover that he’s been turned into…
Well, I wouldn’t be the first Greek to discover Zeus was actually his father. Anyway, turns out that Hera has used the Kronos Stone to turn the Olympians into cute little animals. Iolaus, Xena and Gabrielle arrive and are pretty pissed at Herc for bailing. Alcmena runs off and Hercules finds her crying in a barn. He asks her why she left with Zeus and she tells him that she’s dying but that Zeus offered to take her to Olympus where she could live as an immortal. Herc asks why she didn’t tell him and she says that she knew he’d try to stop her because he’d rather see her dead than with Zeus.
Back in Olympus we get a song called “We’re the Titans” which I feel safe in calling the greatest animated villain song since “Hellfire”. No, screw it. It’s better than “Hellfire”. Give a listen.
Oh man, you should have seen your faces. We have fun here.
Anyway, Hercules realises that if he doesn’t get the titans out of mount Olympus his mother will die so he decides what the hell. He, Xena, Iolaus and the still-critterfied Olympians fly back on Gabrielle. But Hera hears Xena doing that “Ayiyiyiyyiyiyiy!” thing she does that makes her sound like a chihuahua on fast forward and uses the Kronos Stone to turn the titans into even more powerful forms. This backfires when the titans overpower her and take the Kronos stone. Our heroes arrive, gritting their teeth menacingly.
Anyway, the movie is clearly about as anxious to wrap all this up as I am so Hercules has the idea of breaking the Kronos Stone which just happens to cause a massive chasm to Tartarus to open up, where the titans shackles dance merrily, animated by the force of pure Deus ex Machina (Demi-Deus ex Machina?).
Herc and Xena knock the titans into the pit, Hera is defeated, Gabrielle and the Olympians are all changed back to normal.
And the movie ends with Alcemena bidding Hercules a fond farewell and leaving him to go live with Zeus on Mount Olympus.
I realise this is probably the old Chicken Little situation where I’m still so shell shocked by a truly awful piece of animation that I feel generous towards whatever comes next. Well, whether it’s the linger shadow of the dread Felix or my carpet-low expectations going in but HXTAMTBMO pleasantly surprised me. It’s not utterly terrible. It’s not particularly good either and it suffers from a shapeless, saggy plot and an absence of any real sense of stakes. But the voicework is either competant or hilariously goofy and the animation is never boring and sometimes even quite striking. So we’ll call it a pass.
Stiff and sometimes janky, but with a bold, evocative style.
Sorbo and Lawless both do good work, but the characters are pretty flat.
Joy Watson gives a fun, camp portrayal of Hera as a raspy voiced harridan that’s about a million times more true to the original myths than the Disney version.
Supporting Characters 08/20
Honestly, the Xenaverse’s version of Aphrodite as a ditzy Valley girl always irritated me for reasons I can’t really articulate. Both Gabrielle and Iolaus are kinda non-entities. Probably the best of the bunch is Ares, voiced with louche insincerity by Kevin Smith.
I was actually going. to give the music a fairly decent score and then I remembered “We’re the Titans” so that was a close one.
FINAL SCORE: 37%
NEXT UPDATE: 11th August 2021
NEXT TIME: Well well well, look who finally deigned to show her face?
I mean, the “We’re The Titans” song is still better than the villain song from Romeo And Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss
Might have to track this one down, I’m interested in weird obscure cartoons that aren’t always particularly good
You know what? It’s worth a look.
Out there in the Berenstain Universe, Sorbo didn’t plunge head-first into the most self-absorbed and defensive circle of his chosen faith, and I could still enjoy him as a talented and charismatic character actor without reservations. Eh, I guess he still ended up a much less horrible person than James Woods, so at least there’s that.
It’s pretty shameless how that Titans number outright reused the same couple clips within a two minute span, I can only imagine what that must mean for the rest of the runtime. I can totally see where you’re coming from, about this being a cross between Dexter’s Lab and Ren & Stimpy. Honestly, if this was it’s own thing divorced from any adaptation, I could easily see it existing as one of the supplemental series that were already within Dexter, like Justice Friends or Dial M For Monkey. I bet Tartakovsky would have loved to do something like that.
And it’s cool to hear there were at least come strong vocal performances in there. If only they could find a way to work Autolycus into this script, so we could get Bruce Campbell,. That alone probably would have upped your score by ten percent.
That Raya poster has way more smirks than I am entirely comfortable with. Also, why have I never heard of it before? 🤔
Oh yeah, the review. Thanks, it was fun. 😉
Also, I’m reading this book called When The Sparrow Falls by some Neil guy, it’s pretty good too. Not sure why I felt the need to mention that to the Unshaved Mouse, but hey. 😏
Because Covid limited marketing I assume.
That makes a certain amount of sense. 🤔
Wow, I had never heard of this movie.
But I watched the TV shows back when they were new and I was a teenager.
Which is much longer ago than I’d like to admit…
But I don’t remember any ho yay between Hercules and Iolaus.
Weren’t they uncle and nephew in the myths by the way?
However, I just remembered that Moses’s parents were aunt and nephew.
So I guess that we should just move on…
And I don’t remember that Hercules met Abraham, but I know that he met David and Goliath.
But as they too lived a thousand years or so after Abraham, that was a much better fit.
A part of me is glad that Hera is the villain of this movie.
But I guess that I have some sympathy for her, being married to Zeus.
Really, did he just think that she would be happy that he moved a girlfriend up to the Olympus?
So I guess that this was one thing too many and she just flipped…
And yes, it is true that the soundtrack from Disney’s “Hercules” is underrated.
And yes, of course I wanted Beast to become a human.
There would be beastiality otherwise, and all the servants had to become humans again too.
This movie is insane and terrible, but not insanely terrible. Kinda fun, if you’re in the mood.
I only barely tolerated Hercules when it was new, but I was all about Xena, and having revisited both series as an adult, my feelings haven’t changed much. Helps that Lucy Lawless is a very cool person and Kevin Sorbo is…not.
You’re welcome for the video, and I’m glad it helped wash the taste of Felix out of your brain.
I kind of pity you, if reviewing “Raya” means you’ll have to explain how the public’s criticisms with “Star Wars” Episodes VIII and IX seemingly led to Disney Animation replacing the lead actress with Kelly Marie Tran.
“In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is probably the least impressive Zeus in the history of Western civilization.”
Oh come on now, surely he can’t be less impressive than the played-for-laughs Zeus of DuckTales 2017–
*Actually sees the pic of Battle for Mount Olympus Zeus*
Yeah, okay, fine. You win this one.
Surprisingly enough, someone did do their homework for this: Porphyrion really was the leader of the Gigantes (not Titans, the Gigantes were younger brothers of the Titans, trying to avenge them) when they stormed Mt. Olympus, and Hera really did prophesy that Heracles/Hercules would be the one to defeat them.
However, Hera was not behind the attack, and was nearly captured while battling Porphyrion, who had…unpleasant designs on her person. In fact, Hercules saved her!
See here for a vase painting of Hera killing Gigantes with a spear like a stone cold badass: https://www.theoi.com/image/K4.3Hera.jpg
I liked Raya well enough, but I got the feeling that it would have done better as a series that could fully flesh-out the world. Also, the setting and characters drew inevitable comparisons with The Last Airbender, and Raya of course suffers by that comparison. That created a whole internet scandal surrounding Lindsey Ellis but that’s a whole other can of worms. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to Raya’s review! But this one was really great too! I was too young to have watched either Hercules or Xena outside of her appearance in The Simpsons, so I didn’t even know this movie existed. But it looks like fun, really. So Bad it’s Good fun, but fun nonetheless.
I liked Raya a whole lot, made me feel like its the closest thing I’ll ever see to a Legend of Korra movie, and significantly better than the ATLA “movie”. Series would be good too, just has more time to develop to world-building.
Not to jinx it, but I have a suspicion you’re gonna be kinda harsh on Raya, considering how divisive it’s become. I’m starting to get the feeling that the Disney canon might have entered a new era of decline starting with Ralph Breaks the Internet, but Encanto might get it back on track, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Ain’t sayin nuffin’
If he is negative (and he has been lately for Disney) it won’t be the same reason as some are in Internet like Sisu desing. And overall the reception has been very positive.
Now that I know this exists, I guess I’ll have to check it out when I get back into a Xena move.
Nice that you mentioned Caesar and Abraham being contemporaries things as ridiculous since stuff like that is often ignored when people hear “ancient” and treat it the same as 50s it seems often. On the other hand people are often suprised to hear that Caesar and Cleopatra were in a relationship since she is dressed in modern media like the Egyptians who build the pyramids (or a Las Vegas show girl) when building of the pyramids were to her more distant than modern day and she dressed like a the Hellenistic Greek she was.
Pocahontas has most underrated song catalogue from Disney imo, Atlantis the score. Hercules has some great ones like “I Won’t Say I Am In Love” but I feel it does get attention these days in fandom at least and “Go to the Distance” is horribly overrated and doesn’t fit the character, and “One Last Hope” is just bad. “A Star is Born” is most underrated of the songs I feel.
Yay, Raya next! Almost timed with the Encanto teaser.
Oh, not really anything to say about the movie in question of the post…
“This was the show that depicted Abraham and Julius Caesar as contemporaries”
And here I am remembering the Hercules episode where he witnessed the birth of Christ. I don’t think they were aiming for a consistent time line.
Don’t mean I can’t snark.
I figured they put that in for the obligatory Christmas episode. Because no way in hell was Sorbo going to do a Christmas episode with anything to do with those damn, dirty pagan origins.
I’m so glad to finally see this review! That sounds like it’s a jab but it’s not meant to be. I’ve just been anticipating this for awhile.
I watched this in high school when it first came out (friend of mine was really into the live-action shows and pulled me in) and I remember the animation being hemorrhoidally awful. But the screenshots make it look stylized. So now I dunno, may have to watch this again.
I don’t remember Hercules meeting Abraham, although Xena and Gabrielle did meet Eli Totally-not-Jesus on their show. (Also, OF COURSE Xena and Gabrielle be fuckin’! The show did everything a low budget, late ’90s show run by a nervous network could do to say they be fucking’. Without, y’know, outright saying it.)
The animation is not, strictly speaking, good. But it’s certainly interesting.
Wait Artemis was in this movie? She was the one Olympian I remember the shows never using, even in the Arc that was about literally killing all of them.
I’m also disappointed that Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi’s characters didn’t seem to appear.
She was actually in all three series.
Well I somehow missed those episodes.
I loved this movie so much as a kid.
One little detail I love is that Hera turned Artemis into a common symbol of fertility.
I will actually defend “We’re The Titans.” It’s funny. It sounds like they are just having some fun making up a song as they go, and then the real good parts, Hera’s reaction. “I can’t even hear myself gloat.”
I never thought of it that way, but turning someone into a rabbit is basically slut shaming.
That would make it very fitting for Zeus.
Ever since you announced you were reviewing this I was most excited about your take on “We’re the Titans” and you didn’t disappoint.
Every time I seriously consider looking back on HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS with lofty condescension, I remember that this was a series that introduced Aphrodite in the classic ‘Venus de Milo’ pose, then proceeded to show her windsurfing on that clamshell.
How can I not love this sort of nonsense?
If nothing else those HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS tv movies absolutely nailed the casting for Zeus MASTER OF OLYMPUS – I mean who could possibly be more perfect for the role of an Olympian who happens to be (similtaneously) a randy old goat and an entity you would be very, Very Stupid to mess with than the late, great Mr Anthony Quinn? (Also, if memory serves, in HERCULES AND THE AMAZON WOMEN Zeus actually sleeps with a warrior woman who looks EXACTLY like Xena – by virtue of being played by Ms. Lucy Lawless – and I’m always terribly, terribly disappointed nobody has ever made a joke about that, not least because Zeus seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the experience … although there’s some time-whimey mischief making it difficult to confirm whether or not those events actually happened).
It’s very sad to learn that the animated film doesn’t seem to have done the Son of Kronus equal credit.
Oh, and you can tell that Zeus has been subjected to a baleful polymorph because he’s been turned into a farmyard animal but is NOT a goat – casual fans of mythology (as opposed to you, Mouse, who will very definitely know that mice are APOLLO’S Thing) may think I was deploying a mere cliche when describing Zeus as a ‘goat’ but the King of the Olympians was quite literally raised as a he-goat (in hiding from his thoroughly horrible father), which explains quite a bit about Zeus AND says quite a lot about the Greek Myths to boot.
Oh, and readers looking for a film in which Hera, Queen of Olympus, gets a chance to NOT be the villain are heartily encouraged to seek out JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) in which Her Majesty is played by a full-blown Avenger (Admittedly not THAT kind of Avenger, but the British version is still pretty darned cool, especially when they’re played by – Fanfare – the late Honor Blackman – Swoons -).
Now Mouse I support many of your stances and would never quibble over minor details.
However I feel the villain score misses out the 1 point increase every “inspired by Greek mythology” thing that doesn’t just mark Hades as the villain deserves.
Admittedly it seems Hades was Mr Not Appearing In This Movie but given how many series, movies, books etc. just go God of the Underworld = Villain the fact that this seems not to have done that makes them just barely more accurate to mythology than countless other media.
Come on. He might be your uncle.
Hades was actually feared and loathed in Ancient Greece.
There were no temples built in his honor, and people did not be want to speak his name.
No, it is not like he was more evil than the other gods.
But it makes sense that modern works have portrayed him as a villain.
Not quite. He had a few temples and shrines, though mostly is his aspect as Plouton, God of Riches, instead of Haidês, God of the Underworld, and it was more common to invoke him alongside Demeter and Persephone than alone. But he had sacred enclosures in Argolis and Phokis, and a famous oracle in Threspotia. He also had an active cult in Elis, and was considered a major patron there, which was admittedly unusual and pointed out as a novelty by ancient writers. In fact, Pausanias relates a story that Heracles (!) and Athena once attacked the Eleans for some forgotten reason, and Hades came to their defense. He didn’t fare well in battle against the son of Zeus (nobody ever did) but the Eleans appreciated the attempt and considered the god their friend henceforth.
Jessie has touched on elements of it, while the Greeks tended to avoid speaking his name, as attracting his attention was generally seen as dangerous, he was still worshipped.
And moreover it’s not that he was simply not more evil than the other gods, he was also significantly less capricious than them too. Though that could be a side effect that, as with the worship and his depictions in art, Hades tended not to be as prominent a figure in the myths because it was generally considered wiser not to mention him. As such with fewer mentions there are also fewer tales where he could be an ass in. As in a not very nice person rather than a donkey, given Greek deities are under discussion it is worth being clear.
Modern works portraying him as a villain tend to do so by shifting the underworld to a hell analogy, making him ruler of Tartarus alone essentially rather than the other parts of the afterlife.