Asterix as the New Hercules: The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976)
The popular French comic strip Astérix is a modern day myth, which provides the readers with an imaginary world of heroes, living in the timeless year of 50 BC, in a fantasy land which is supposed to be Roman Gaul. The mythographers, as it were, the author René Goscinny and the artist Albert Uderzo, succeeded in turning harsh history into a popular illustrated tale, creating an image more powerful than any historical account. Following their success, Goscinny and Uderzo created in 1976 the animated film Les Douze Travaux d’Astérix (The Twelve Tasks of Asterix), the only movie to be based on an original screenplay that was not preceded by a comic book in the series. Casting Asterix as a Hercules surrogate, the film is to this day one of the most interesting attempts in modern popular culture to deconstruct and reconstruct the myth of Hercules. Like the French comic book series Astérix, it adapts classical texts, albeit with slight differences. This chapter tackles the way the film handles the stories of Hercules and creates another myth via the medium of animation, a topic which has not been considered so far.