Moana sees a young girl on a quest to find legendary demigod Maui of Polynesian mythology to accomplish a nigh impossible task. Why doesn’t Maui just do it himself, you ask? Well, that’s because he’s a demigod – part god, part human. So he’s not all powerful (as shown by the fact that they need some sort of craft to travel the seas), although he is probably stronger than a normal person.

Mythological demigods are the predecessors of modern-day superheroes. Since they’re part mortal, they’ve got human weaknesses which make them relatable flawed heroes. But being part divine, they’ve got super powers, which is essentially wish fulfilment for us humans. That’s why there are so many legends, and hence films, about them. Also, having a god’s DNA means you have an amazing physique to flaunt, which increases their pin-up quality.

So here five demigods that we’ve loved in movies. Who’s your favourite?

1. Percy Jackson in the Percy Jackson series (played by Logan Lerman)

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Credit: Percy Jackson Movies Facebook Page

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Credit: Percy Jackson Movies Facebook Page

Before Percy Jackson, nobody cared (or knew very much) about Poseidon, his father. Yes, he’s the Greek god of the sea, but that makes him the Greek equivalent of Aquaman. Can you name any famous Poseidon myths? I mean, he even lost to his niece, Athena, when it came to giving gifts to Greece’s capital city!

The famous city promised to name itself after the god who gave them the better gift. Poseidon gave them something water-related (a spring in some myths, a harbour in others) but Athena gave them the olive tree, which was a symbol of peace and a source of tasty oil, so they named the city Athens thereafter.

He’s a swimmer too – great excuse for eye candy moments.

2. Theseus in Immortals (played by Henry Cavill)

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Credit: Percy Jackson Movies Facebook Page

Henry Cavill as Theseus in Immortals. Credit: Immortals Facebook Page

Before he was Superman (who’s also a demigod in a way), he was Theseus, son of Zeus. He fought giant bull-monsters (the Minotaur) and his primary objective in the film was to find a magical bow and prevent the Titans, the physical equals of the gods, from escaping. Unfortunately, the bad guy found the magical bow, the Titans were unleashed, and Theseus died.

He got better though – he became a god after dying and led the armies of the gods in a heavenly battle against the Titans.

3. Helen in Troy (played by Diane Kruger)

Diane Kruger as Helen in Troy. Credit: Troy Facebook Page

Diane Kruger as Helen in Troy. Credit: Troy Facebook Page

She’s known to have “the face that launched a thousand ships” because she’s not entirely human! That’s right, she’s the daughter of Zeus, and divine essence is always better than SK-II. But she was really just a plot device. After all the men got charmed by her beauty (and went to war), the story focused on their magnificent battles instead. Helen was relegated to looking stressed after that.

4. Perseus in Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans (played by Sam Worthington)

Theseus (Sam Worthington) in Clash of the Titans. Credit: Clash of the Titans Facebook Page

Theseus (Sam Worthington) in Clash of the Titans. Credit: Clash of the Titans Facebook Page

You might remember Clash of the Titans for that corny line, “RELEASE THE KRAKEN!” Zeus (Liam Neeson) bellows it out in all seriousness in the climax of the film. As a result, his son Perseus has to defeat it to save the city (and his girlfriend). Perseus is the ultimate lobang king of Greek mythology – he basically borrowed all sorts of stuff from the gods, so he got Hermes’ sandals (for flying), a mirror shield from Athena (to reflect Medusa’s gaze at her), Hades’ cap (for invisibility), an adamantine sword from Zeus (to chop off Medusa’s head), and a magic bag to put her head in (presumably so the head wouldn’t rot).

The gods really had a lot of faith in him. Those are some pretty valuable items he borrowed!

5. Hercules in Hercules (voiced by Tate Donovan)

Herules (Tate Donovan) in Hercules. Credit: Hercules Facebook Page

Hercules (Tate Donovan) in Hercules. Credit: Hercules Facebook Page

And then Zeus went and fathered yet another son (in the Disney version, it was through his wife Hera, but in mythology, he had slept with the mortal woman Alcmene), Hercules. Hercules is probably the best-known of Zeus’ sons, thanks to his incredible strength. In fact, that’s where we get the word “Herculean” from – the strength of Hercules!

Fun fact – Hercules is actually the Roman name of the character, while Heracles is the Greek name of the character. In the myth, in order to appease Hera for yet another affair by Zeus (his divine seed meant a 100% chance of impregnation, so no chance of birth control there), the child was named Heracles. We think that it wouldn’t be particularly mollifying to know that the son of your husband’s mistress was named after you, but at least they tried.

Moana. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Moana. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

And this November, another Disney movie featuring a demigod is out – Moana! Dwayne Johnson voices demigod Maui (he also played Hercules in a live action adaptation) and together with Moana, they set off on an epic quest across the seas. It’s a tender and familiar story, and a fun family film for the holidays.

You have to watch it to find out why it wasn’t named Maui instead.

 

Credits: Percy Jackson Movies Facebook Page, Immortals Facebook Page, Troy Facebook Page, Clash of the Titans Facebook Page, Hercules Facebook Page, Golden Village Cinemas