Disney Odyssey #35 – This is Basically Just A Damn Yankees/Superman Greek Myth AU Fanfic by Disney

If I’m going to say only one thing about Disney’s Hercules, it’s that it is nowhere near as dirty, bizarre, or epic as the original Greek myths it draws from… BUT…. it was still my very favorite Disney movie right up until 2016. That’s right, folks. I said it. Hercules is the best Disney movie of all time until Zootopia.


Deal with it.

I grew up obsessed with Greek mythology (a skill which may have been useless to a child but as a teenager would serve me well and help me not only pass but ACE my one semester astronomy class). I knew the myths, I knew the variations, I knew the different stories that were later written and inspired by them. I even knew something about the Trojan War thanks to Wishbone and a glimpse of early Greek theatre through various picture books and tons of Renaissance paintings. Complex, weird, disgusting, insane stories about people who were not always good or bad but sometimes were both… and lots of bizarre magical combination animals (pegasus! chimera! hippogriff! hippocampus! sphinx! basilisk! cockatrice! THE LISTS GO ON PEOPLE). I loved all of it. Especially puzzling out how to say their names out loud (Eurydice eluded me until high school, but I was especially proud of figuring out Bellerophon and Halcyone and Persephone myself). I love that the stories are found echoed throughout history, across different civilizations – as most good stories are. I didn’t discover Norse, Egyptian, or Hindu mythology until much later, and although my excitement for old stories continued on those paths too… the Greeks were my pantheon. My favorites. Never mind the Romans who literally couldn’t even be bothered to do their own thing but they just renamed everyone… I mean really: Athena becoming Minerva?! Go home, Caesar.

So Disney’s Hercules hit theatres in 1997 and I exploded with joy. Somehow, even in spite of my brain pulling a total BBC Sherlock while I watched it the first time…


…somehow, SOMEHOW, I enjoyed it immensely anyway. The animation is gorgeous. The color palettes are all perfect. The witty one-liners are the punchiest. This is arguably one of the most quotable Disney movies in my opinion – a feat which combines both the excellence of the screenplay and of the voice actors. Danny DeVito. James Woods. Rip Torn. Charlton Heston is the NARRATOR for a hot second. Not to mention the Muses – Roz Ryan, LaChanze, Cheryl Freeman, Lillias White, and Vaneese Y. Thomas. They almost had the Spice Girls but scheduling was a beast.

The bottom line here is that somehow this movie clings to the deepest joyful parts of my imagination and I love it with a passion. I fully admit that I may overlook some faults because I like it so much. My apologies for any biases that may sneak into this post…



The Film: Hercules (1997)

Continue reading

Disney Odyssey #34 – The Hunchback of Notre DAMN, SON THOSE ARE SOME SICK MOVES

The Fell and I got together with two amazing human beings who are both friends and amazing mentors. AE and T are amazing artists, performers, and knowledgeable cultural icons. AE is known for being Jane the Phoole in the renaissance faire community and DJ Phoole on the internet on Friday nights, and T is a graphic artist, sculptor, musician, and incredibly versatile human being. Together, they are most powerful of power couples, and some of our very dearest friends and heroes.

AE has a strong love for Hunchback for various reasons, and T has never seen it… so let’s see what happens!!!


Spoiler: the movie is nowhere near as jolly as this poster made it look

The Film: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

The Facts:

  • The movie very nearly received a PG rating for its dark and, in some cases, sexual themes. If it had, it would have been the first movie since The Black Cauldron to bear that rating.
  • Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. Many liberties were taken with the original story to fit a Disney audience – for example, Esmeralda was much younger in the novel, Frollo was actually the Archdeacon of the cathedral, Phoebus was engaged to another girl (also quite young), and there were lots of other characters and awful things that took place.
  • “Hellfire” is considered the darkest of any Disney song and nearly was cut from the film several times.
  • Tom Hulce provides the speaking and singing voice of Quasimodo. Hulce was famous for having portrayed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the film Amadeus and so Hunchback contains several references to Mozart: there are musical references to Requiem in D Minor in the Latin chants, and in “A Guy Like You” there is a moment with towering powdered wigs that are not unlike those worn by Mozart and others in the film.
  • This movie contains a large number of Disney cross-references and easter eggs. In “Out There,” the camera pans down into the streets of Paris and if you look carefully you can spot Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Carpet (Aladdin), and Pumbaa (The Lion King). During “Court of Miracles,” Clopin lifts his skirt and prances a little to the music – a reference to “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” where Mickey does the same action, since the music in “Court of Miracles” is very similar.
  • This is former Disney CEO Michael Eisner‘s favorite film.
  • The gargoyles Victor, Hugo, and Laverne are named after the novel’s author and then one of the Andrews Sisters. Originally they had thought of naming them after various actors who have portrayed Quasimodo throughout film history (Chaney, Laughton, and Quinn) but the idea was nixed so as not to offend any living relatives.
  • Disney color theory returns with red symbolizing evil and blue symbolizing good – the cloaks that Phoebus, Quasi, and Esmeralda use are blue.
  • The music for the film was written by Alan Menken and Steven Schwartz.

The Observations:

  • “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be making our final descent into Paris, please remain in your seats with your seatbelts buckled and your tray tables in their upright position…”
  • AE: “Is this Clopin singing the prologue? It is!” Aly: “He’s telling this incredibly dark story to a bunch of kids in the marketplace on a Saturday morning at like, 10 AM.” T: “Well, they’re European.”
  • Drew: “Judge Claude Frollo… and his giant horse, Snowball.” The name of Frollo’s horse is never said in the movie but in later Disney canon and DVD commentaries, they revealed it to be “Snowball.”
  • Victor says “It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.” AE: “That’s….kind of important.” Drew: “It’s very telling about their relationship.” This was the beginning of our discovery that Quasimodo and Rapunzel would probably be best friends. They have high dex scores, were raised in isolation in high places, and have abusive adopted parents. Yikes.
  • Frollo has a lot of design echoes of Maleficent, Evil Queen from Snow White and also Joel Grey, somehow.
  • AE recommends picking up copies of Umberto Eco’s “History of Beauty” and “On Ugliness” for further reading on the human concepts of attractiveness and disgustingness.
  • The musical expertise of this film is really astonishing. The transition from “Stay In Here” to “Out There” goes from minor to major – indicating hope and joy – and the lyrics are dazzling. We especially loved “heedless of the gift it is to be them.”
  • AE: “The birds! The BIRds! THE BURRRRDSSSS!”
  • T: “Do you see the hidden Mickey?” Everyone else: “Where?!” T: “Well I can’t see it. It’s hidden.”
  • sustodjali



  • “Scurvy knaves are extra scurvy/On the sixth of Jan-u-er-vy–” AE: “The sixth of January?! This all takes place on the Feast of the Epiphany! That’s AWESOME.”
  • There’s a LITERAL poledance. HOW is this a G movie?
  • Some Guy: “It’s the Bell Ringer From Notre-Dame!” Drew: “WHO IS THAT GUY? How does he even know!?”
  • Aly: “Sunset happened at the exact moment his shirt ripped open.” AE: “I hate it when that happens.”
  • AE also recommends Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy” for information on Actual Fools of this time period.
  • (“God Help The Outcasts” starts playing) AE: (hushed) “This is the best song in any Disney movie.” T: “Who’s singing this?” Aly: “Heidi Mollenhauer.” T: “Oh. I thought it was Adele Dazeem.”
  • Aly: “I can’t. The key change. It’s coming. I’m ALREADY CRYING.” T: “Ann-Elizabeth – when did modulation become popular in music?” AE: “Well it didn’t become legal till after the 17th century. There were clerical laws about what intervals you could use.” Drew: “Really?!” Aly: “Yes! Some of the chords were legally considered Satanic and couldn’t be used.”
  • maxresdefault

    Arts ‘n’ crafts time with the Gargoyles

  • T: “So what, he’s just going to start randomly ringing the bells?” AE & Aly (in unison): “It’s for evening vespers.” T: “Hey, she was in Casino Royale!
  • There so much to say about “Hellfire” that I can’t even get into it. It is probably the best villain song of the Disney canon… and definitely the most evil. SHUDDER.
  • Catacombs or underground prop closet? Aly: “There’s so many SKULLS. How did this happen?” T: “…the Plague.” AE: “This song is exactly why you should never mess with variety performers.”
  • ojjtl2q


  • T: “Is she wearing Pocahontas’ dress?” Aly: “It’s like they threw in some Joan of Arc for good measure… but the French people watching this are like ‘Zis is a differant story, you eediots!'” AE: “SSSStupeed Americaines!”
  • 663082c56b39bf938eebde5d470de274

    At least there’s a lot of smoke. She’ll suffocate first. 😐

  • We all agreed that the seige at the cathedral would be SUCH a great stunt show at the parks. DISNEY, GET ON IT. Also, if only populist revolts were that easy!
  • Frollo: “And he shall smite the wicked…” Aly: “no, No, NO, don’t QUOTE THE BIBLE dude!”
  • (The little girl touches Quasimodo’s face.) Drew: “…oh THERE you are, Peter!
  • Clopin: “Three cheers for Quasimodo!” Aly: “SOMEBODY has to emcee this event!”
  • (The camera zooooooms out) Drew: “MY WORK HERE IS DONE. GOODBYE PARIS.” Aly: “THIS IS CNN.”

The thing that stuck out the most to me about Hunchback – especially in the current socio-political climate – is that no matter who you are, what you are, what you do/don’t have… you can always do something for someone else. And if you don’t care about other people, what’s the point? Take a leaf out of Quasimodo’s book… and Esmeralda’s… and Phoebus’. Reach out to someone who might need you, even if you’re strangers, and show a little love. ❤


Disney Renaissance Credits Slow Jam 


Extra special thanks to my patrons who made this and all Disney Odyssey posts possible: AE, Alexis, Allen, Andy, Ben, Cameron, Candace, David, Dennis, Eric, Erika, Josh, Kat, Katie, Mary & Rhett, Mary-Kate, Matt, Mel, Michael, Rebecca, Stephen, and Tiffany. If you’re interested in supporting this blog, the Disney Odyssey, and future fantastical adventures, please consider donating a dollar or more to my Patreon!

Thank you for joining us this time on the Disney Odyssey… and make sure to subscribe to the blog for the next post, and subscribe on Podbean for the audio commentary from previous episodes of the Disney Odyssey!

Disney Odyssey #32 – Life is a Circle, and Revenge Happens Naturally

The next installment of the Disney Odyssey is an animal-centric movie, which means only one thing: the return of famed big game hunter and animal rights activist…. Professor Gordon! For this momentous occasion, we also invited comedic genius Andy Huttel to join us – and thus the meeting of the bearded gingers was begun. 


An actual photo of Professor Gordon (left) and Andy Huttel (right) in the wild.

Both Bill and Andy had a lot of personal connections with The Lion King so it seemed only right to have them both weigh in on this highly formative film from the mid-1990s.


The Film: The Lion King (1994)

Continue reading

Disney Odyssey #31 – Parkour, Parody, and a Princess With An Attitude

 The excitement to finally get to watch one of the best Disney movies of all time was immense – and the Fella and I were happy to share this milestone moment with our dear friend Alexis.

A fortune-teller, a comedienne, and a witch at different turns in her life, Alexis is talented performer and creator in her own right. She definitely brought her a-game to the table when it came to our next stop on the Disney Odyssey… Aladdin!


The Film: Aladdin (1992)

Continue reading

Disney Odyssey #30 – How To Win True Love By Being More Interested in Books Than Dating


Many folks in my age group consider the Disney Renaissance to be the finest era of Disney filmmaking in its long history. Many people in that age group would further say that this next movie in the Disney Odyssey is one of the greatest Disney movies ever made. Though the current young generation of would-be Disney princesses would say that their favorite princess is Anna or Elsa, many of my generation would immediately and without hesitation say Ariel (who doesn’t want to breathe underwater and have voluptuous hair, but perhaps even more will name… Belle.

“Belle. It’s Belle. BELLE IS THE BEST DISNEY PRINCESS,” they will say, fervently and unyieldingly, gesturing to their bookshelves, their blue hair bows, their coordinated porcelain tea sets with pale purple trim and decorative candelabras.

Belle is the Elizabeth Bennett of the Disney canon: she is beautiful, deeply intelligent, and doesn’t have time for judgy small-town villagers. She earns her true love/destiny/happiness through Being Herself To The Max, that is, by loving books, caring deeply for her family member(s), and for not backing down in the face of a brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man. In fact, she doesn’t back down SO MUCH that that brutish, emotionally unstable lonely man totally falls in love with her, and then she’s immediately wealthier than her entire obnoxious town combined.

It’s the ultimate dream. Get rich and find the man of your dreams simply by being yourself and reading a lot.

Please don’t take any of this to mean that I don’t like Belle, or that I’m judging you for liking Belle the best. I’m absolutely not. I freaking love Belle. She’s great. She is the foundation for many strong-willed, deeply loving, action-ready heroines yet to come, and she is wonderful.

To celebrate Belle’s radness, the Fella and I invited some truly amazing people for this edition of the Disney Odyssey, one of whom was only seeing this movie for the second time… ever.

This time we welcomed my personal steampunk fairy godparents Tee and Pip, and their wonderful daughter (codename: Sonic Boom).

Award-winning authors Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine IN THE HOUUUUUUUSE!


Tee, Sonic Boom, the Fella, moi. A true sitcom in the making (Pip is behind the camera).

Tee and Pip are co-authors of the award-winning series the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences – I’m sure if you’ve read anything else on this blog you’ve heard me mention them before – among other fantasy and science fiction stories of their own. They are fantastic human beings who also run a podcast called The Shared Desk about writing, publishing, pop culture, and social media. CHECK. THEM. OUT.

And now, on to the movie.

The Film: Beauty and the Beast (1991)


Continue reading