The new action movie Clash of the Titans is entertaining as a popcorn flick. But students of the Greek classics will probably feel their brain explode at all the liberties taken with the myth of Perseus. The original 80s version was already pretty out-there. The new version strays even farther from the source material. Below are a few of the most glaring changes:
The Greek gods and prayers
In the movie, the gods require the prayers of mortals to fuel themselves. No such concept exists in the myths. Rather, the gods are petty and violent and screw with the lives of mortals with no consequence. God of War captures this aspect particularly well.
Hades is not a villain
In the movie, Hades is antagonistic to the other gods as well as humankind. He seeks to usurp Zeus, dresses in all black, and is pretty much Voldemort with a beard.
In the myths, Hades is the most fair, just, and politically neutral of all the gods. He never actively tries to kill people, as he is just a ruler of the dead, not its messenger. Death is personified as Thanatos. As for Hades’ appearance, the ancient Greeks believed gems and minerals come from Hades’ domain (the underground). So the god was often depicted as very wealthy. Also, in the myth of Perseus, Hades actually lets him borrow his helmet of invisibility.
Danae and Acrisius are daughter/father
In the movie, King Acrisius rebelled against the gods and tried to attack Olympus. So Zeus decided to be tricky and impregnate Queen Danae, resulting in the conception of Perseus. Zeus later struck down Acrisius with a lightning bolt and Hades turned him into a demon. Perseus cut off his hand and his blood spawned scorpions. Eventually, he is killed by Perseus.
In the myths, Danae was actually King Acrisius’ daughter, not his wife. Motivated by a prophecy that his grandson would one day cause his death, Acrisius locked his daughter in a tower so she could never conceive a child. But Zeus visited her as a shower of gold (ewww) and impregnated her. When Acrisius discovered this, he threw them into the sea. Both mother and child survive and Acrisius is never punished by Zeus. But he is eventually killed by Perseus in a random discus throwing accident, fulfilling the prophecy.
Who the hell is Io?
In the movie, Perseus’ love interest is Io, a woman who resisted a god’s advances and was cursed with immortality. Io accompanies Perseus along the journey, often times showing up to save his ass and offer sage advice. They live happily ever after.
In the myths, Io is completely unrelated to Perseus’ journey. She’s a woman that Zeus slept with and then turned into a cow to hide from his wife Hera. Rather, Perseus’ female guide is the armor-clad war goddess Athena and they do not have a romantic relationship.
The motivation for hunting Medusa
In the myths, Perseus slays Medusa and obtains her head at the request of some dick named Polydectes who was actually trying to get him killed so he could marry his mom. Perseus returns and turns him to stone. In the movie, the goal is an elaborate plan to defy the gods and save Argos from destruction. Yeah, I think I can see why this plot point was changed.
In the movie, the winged horse Pegasus comes out of nowhere and aids Perseus. In the myths, Pegasus literally flies out of Medusa’s headless corpse. He is Medusa’s child. You see, Medusa was a mortal woman who was cruelly transformed into a monster after being raped by a horse (who was actually Poseidon in disguise). So that’s why her child is a winged horse. Makes sense, sort of.
In the myths, Zeus didn’t “release the Kraken” to destroy Argos for its insolence. The Kraken isn’t even in Greek myths. It comes from later folktales and resembles a giant octopus (i.e. Pirates of the Caribbean).
What prompts the unleashing of the sea monster?
In the movie, Queen Cassieopia of Argos boasts that her daughter Andromeda is more beautiful than Aphrodite, prompting Hades to go batshit crazy. In the myths, Queen Cassieopia is from Ethiopia and compares her daughter to the Nereids (sea nymphs). This causes Poseidon (god of the sea) to get pissed off and release a whale-like monster called Cetus. It certainly makes more sense for a sea god to release a sea monster to uphold the honor of his sea nymphs than for Hades to do it because he’s eeeeeevil.
Andromeda is black
In the myths, Andromeda is the princess of Ethiopia. So technically, she’s supposed to be black.
Perseus and Andromeda’s relationship
Another difference is that everything in the movie leads to Andromeda’s sacrifice. In the myths, Perseus never even met Andromeda prior to rescuing her. He was actually just flying around with Pegasus (or winged sandles in some versions) for a completely unrelated reason and notices her chained to a rock. Then they get married. The end.
These ‘genies’ are actually from Arabic folklore. Aladdin summons one from a magic lamp. They seem to have been added to the movie in order to sell toys.
In the movie, Perseus finds the Stygian Witches to learn the location of Medusa. In the myths, there are no Stygian Witches. Rather, he visits the Graeae (gray ones) who are beautiful sea goddesses in the guise of old ladies. They lead him to Hera’s orchard to obtain some epic weapons.
Wow, that’s a pretty long list of changes. So in the end, what did Clash of the Titans do right? Well, they did manage to depict Hades with a beard.