- Not to be confused with Zeus (Fantasia).
Zeus is the King of the Olympian Gods and the father of the legendary hero Hercules. He first appeared in the Disney's 1997 feature film Hercules. He is a very jolly and easy-going person, but he does know when to get serious. He is voiced by actor Rip Torn in the film, and Corey Burton in the TV series.
Zeus in Greek mythology, is in many ways different from the Disney version. He frequently cheated on his wife: fathering many immortal and mortal children with Hercules as one of his many sons and most famous. Zeus has two godly sons by his wife Hera: Ares, god of war and Hephaestus, god of the forge. In original mythology, Zeus killed his father Cronus. Zeus was rivals with his brother, Poseidon, who was god of the sea. Zeus is the being that rules with an "iron fist" and a thunder bolt to smite you if you anger him.
Zeus prefers to keep things easy going and is often seen with a large smile and a witty remark on things. Aside from this, Zeus is a worthy ruler, wise and extremely fierce when necessary, This quality makes Zeus a respected king with the combination of fun but maturity when needed. He's protective of Hercules as seen throughout the series of Hercules.
However, he does have a relatively negative relationship with Hades. Zeus often makes fun of Hades and belittles him with jokes, part of what prompts Hades to attempt to take over Olympus. Zeus does seem to be aware of Hades' attempted overthrows, but apparently seems to forget them relatively quickly.
Zeus is the son of the Titan King Cronos. Based on an offhand remark by Zeus, Cronos feared Zeus might one day overthrow him so he tried to eat him. Following mythology, his mother hid him away until Zeus was old enough to challenge his father and banish him.
Many eons ago (prior to the movie) Zeus imprisoned the deadly Titans, who threatened to destroy the world, deep beneath the ocean where they would remain for the rest of eternity undisturbed. However, he was unaware that the next planetary alignment would reveal the location of the Titan's prison, and his brother Hades planned to free them by the next alignment so he could use them to help him overthrow Zeus and take over Mount Olympus.
During the beginning of the film, Zeus, along with his wife Hera, were celebrating the birth of their newborn son Hercules with their fellow Gods. Soon enough, Zeus brother Hades arrives, and grows worried that the newborn might become a threat to his evil plot. Hades consults the Fates who reveal to him that Hercules will indeed foil his plot. Fearing that possibility, he sends out his servants, Pain and Panic to kidnap Hercules from Zeus' palace and give him an evil formula that will turn him mortal thus allowing them to kill him. However, Hercules fails to drink the last drop and manages to retain his God-like strength allowing him to easily dispatch Pain and Panic.
Zeus is devastated by the loss of his son and sends out all the Gods to find Hercules. However, by the time they find him it is too late, as Hercules has already been adopted by a kind and loving mortal couple. Zeus would not interact with his son until his teenage years wherein Hercules sought to find out where he came from by going to the Temple of Zeus. There, the large statue of Zeus is possessed by the real Zeus who proceeds to happily welcome back his long lost son. However, he explains that Hercules cannot go back to Mount Olympus as he has lost his Godhood, and the only way to reclaim it is to become a true hero. Hercules goes off and fights off almost every monster and becomes famous. Soon afterwards, Hercules returns to the Temple of Zeus and tells his father that this is the day he has been waiting for which is rejoining the Gods but Zeus tells his son that being famous isn't the same as being a true hero, and that in order to become a true hero he must look inside his heart. Soon, Hades takes Hercules' strength away from him and unleashes the Titans and captures Zeus and the other Gods and starts to rule Mount Olympus. Hercules (who's gotten his strength back from when Meg saved his life) shows up and frees his father and destroys the Titans. Hades takes Meg's spirit into the river of death but Hercules (who willingly gives up his soul to save Meg) jumps in and rescues her and restores his godhood. After defeating Hades and returning Meg her spirit (to which she returns to life) Hercules is reunited with his parents and is told by Zeus for a true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart. Hercules tells his parents this is the moment he's been waiting for, but a life without Meg would be empty and that he wishes to stay on Earth with her to which Zeus and his wife agree. Once Hercules and Meg return to Earth, they reunite with Hercules' foster parents and Zeus paints a picture of his son in the stars.
Throughout the T.V. series that's between his son's childhood times and adulthood times, Zeus plays a major supporting role. He is the one who insisted Hercules be sent to high school. Often he is found either trying to help Hercules or thwart attempts on his throne by Hades.
When Hercules is given a job that Zeus feels is not worthy, he appeals to the Council of Gods to provide him a worthy job. Hades suggests work in the Underworld for Hercules, but Zeus laughs it off which angers Hades. To the surprise and dismay of Apollo, Zeus then decides that Hercules would drive the sun chariot. When Hercules loses the sun, Hades convinces the council of the gods to vote to dethrone Zeus and decide on a new king of Mount Olympus. When the sun is returned, Zeus finds out that Hades was behind the sun's disappearance which drove him to throw an emergency lighting bolt on him.
Hercules is having trouble dealing with Adonis, so, when he mentions it to his father, Zeus tells him to show him who's in charge. Hercules warns it's not that easy. To prove him wrong, Zeus spends a day as a teenager; at first as a god, then at Hermes' request, as a mortal. While he was very popular as a teen god, as a mortal, Zeus is just like everyone else, subject to humiliation - and also, as Hades learns from the Fates, death. In an attempt to be rid of Zeus once and for all, he sends his troublesome dog Cerberus after Zeus while he's still mortal. Zeus gains his godhood back and defeats Hades, but learns a valuable lesson about how hard it is being mortal - though not before getting back at Adonis.
Zeus made several appearances in House of Mouse and the second most recurring Hercules character after Hades. One notable episode is "Unplugged Club" where Pete cuts the club power so Zeus uses his lightning bolts for power. Another is "Pete's House of Villains" in which Zeus' thunder was stolen.
Zeus doesn't make any appearance in the Kingdom Hearts games, but in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Hercules mentions to Ventus that Zeus is his father and that he can return to him once he's a true hero. In Kingdom Hearts, Phil tells Sora in speech bubbles that Hercules is visiting his father Zeus up on Mount Olympus, and in Kingdom Hearts II, Hades tells Pete that the Underdrome was locked tight by Zeus, but he might be in Kingdom Hearts in the future games.
Zeus was a part of a float in the Hercules: Zero to Hero parade that ran when the film premiered.
Powers & Abilities
- As a god, Zeus possesses the natural powers & abilities of an Olympian god such as: omnipotence, immortality, omnipresence, omniscience, superhuman strength, metamorphosis and teleportation.
- As the God of the Sky, Zeus has control over the weather and is responsible for creating storms.
- As the King of the Gods and the lord of the sky, Zeus is responsible for ruling the sky.
- Actor Rip Torn who provides the voice of Zeus was married to actress Geraldine Page who provided the voice of Madame Medusa in The Rescuers. Page died in 1987 of a heart attack 10 years before her husband provided Zeus' voice and 10 years after she did Medusa's.
- In the movie Zeus and his wife, Hera are Hercules' birth parents, but in the actual myth, Zeus is his birth father, and Alcmene, a mortal woman who was seduced (along the lines of rape by deception) by Zeus, is his birth mother, prompting Hera to punish Hercules through his life as revenge for him Zeus betraying her. In the movie, Alcmene and her husband, Amphitryon are Hercules' adopted parents.
- "As king of the gods, Zeus is the most powerful Olympian god and one of the most powerful Disney characters possibly the top or only behind Aladdin's Genie. Zeus is most famous for his weather control abilities. Over the course of the Hercules film and TV series he displayed a wide range of magical abilities." In the animated series, Olympian Deities are capable of life-giving to objects or giving supernatural powers to who don't possess it.
- In Greek Mythology, Zeus is the youngest brother of the trio of himself, Poseidon and Hades, but in the Animated Series, he is the oldest with Hades as the youngest.
- This version of Zeus appears to be more benign than his more myth-accurate Fantasia counterpart.
- Zeus' Roman counterpart is named Jupiter, which is also the name of the 5th planet from the Sun and the Solar System's largest planet.
- Zeus is very similar to Mufasa from The Lion King as both are mighty rulers, have a wife, have a son and have brothers that are younger and who serve as their respective film's villains. Unlike Mufusa though, Zeus is immortal but it is implied after he died, Mufusa's ghost became a 'God' as his spirit is seen in heaven and watches over the Pride Lands.