In Greek mythology, Hera was known as the Queen of the Gods, wife, and sister of Zeus, the King of the Gods. Hera was the goddess of marriage and women. Hera was Hercules's step-mother and his enemy. When Hercules was born, she sent two serpents to kill him, but he was found instead playing with them as if they were toys. She also is involved in the origins of the Milky Way when Zeus tricked her into nursing Hercules and she tore him away from her once she recognized who the baby was, severely wounding her.
In the 1997 film Hercules, Hera is portrayed as the mother of Hercules. In actual mythology, Hercules' mother was a mortal woman (Zeus, despite being married, had children with numerous other women), and the jealous Hera acted as an antagonist to Hercules (much like Hades in this version).
In contrast to this, the Disney version portrays Hera as a loving and kind mother to Hercules. She appears to be somewhat overprotective of him, as evidenced when she objects to her husband Zeus letting the newborn Hercules play with his thunderbolts. She also suggests that Zeus provide a gift from themselves to Hercules, resulting in Zeus creating Pegasus.
Later, when Hera and Zeus are awoken to noise coming from the nursery where Hercules is, they arrive too late to find the nursery ransacked and Hercules gone. Hera breaks down in tears over her son's disappearance, while Zeus erupts in fury. Together, they dispatch the other Olympian Gods to find Hercules, but they find him too late to return him to Olympus as he had been turned mortal and thus was barred from returning to Olympus as he was no longer immortal like them. Hera and Zeus had to watch Hercules grow up in the care of Alcmene and Amphytryon for the next eighteen years.
Eighteen years later, Hera and Zeus are alerted by Hermes that the Titans have broken out of Tartarus and are heading for Mount Olympus. Hera is captured with the other gods, but is freed by her son Hercules, who then does away with the Titans once and for all before going after Hades. Shortly after Hercules saves Megara's soul from the River Styx and regains his god-hood, Hera and Zeus are waiting at the gates of Olympus to welcome him home. Hera embraces her son, telling him how proud she and Zeus are of him as he was willing to sacrifice his own life to save Meg's. As Hera and Zeus step aside and open the gates of Olympus to welcome Hercules home and he is surrounded by the other gods, Hercules tells them that while he is glad to be back home on Olympus, an immortal life without Megara in it doesn't seem right for him. He asks to be allowed to return to Earth to live with Meg instead, and despite exchanging some concerned looks, Hera and Zeus accept their son's decision and grant his request, watching proudly as Hercules, Meg, and Phil return to Thebes on Pegasus to be congratulated by Alcmene, Amphytryon, and the Thebans.
Hera does not seem to be as unfriendly to Hades as the other gods in the series, as shown when she persuaded Zeus to attend Hades' pool party.
- Hera was one of the most heavily re-interpreted Olympian Gods in Disney's version of the story. In the original Greek Myth, she was not Hercules mother, but rather his stepmother, after Zeus had an affair with his mortal mother. She was known to have hated Hercules with a passion, going so far as to try to kill him on multiple occasions. She was ultimately the cause of what caused Hercules to kill his wife and children, leading up to his 12 labors.
- As portrayed in the movie, while she loves her husband, Hera often serves as both Zeus' conscience and his voice of reason, persuading him in matters that he approaches with less than appropriate actions.