From Homer’s The Odyssey to Electronic Arts’ Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, stories about the Greek gods and Greek mythology have been part of our entertainment landscape for years. It’s for good reason. Just one look at even the most basic myths will show you how adventure and drama packed each Greek myth is. Not even gods are immune from making mistakes that cause their own downfall. Plus, instead of becoming boring, each new adaptation brings its own interpretation to the classic myths.
Surprisingly, though, there aren’t a lot of movies about Greek gods and Greek mythology. The 2004 film Troy, which features Brad Pitt as Achilles and Orlando Bloom as Paris, is noticeably devoid of the gods that squabble in the original Greek tale, pitting their mortal heroes against each other. Even Achilles, the tragic hero whose immortal mother gave him the gift of near-invulnerability, is stripped of his mythical elements and made to carry a shield.
No such adaptations here. This list of films about the Greek gods and their myths features movies that are (faithful to their fantastical origins.
1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2010 and 2013)
While not a favorite of fans of the book series, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians (PJO) movies are fun to watch on a slow day when you’re just not in the mood for having to do an in-depth analysis of a film just to understand what happened in it. The movie series was meant to adapt all of the PJO films to the big screen, but was left with just two movies completed after the movies flopped in the box office.
The Lightning Thief kicks off the film series with a quest to retrieve Zeus’ lightning bolt that takes the characters on a journey throughout the U.S. It introduces the titular Percy Jackson who learns that he’s actually the son of the sea god Poseidon. An attack by a monster leads to him being whisked away to a summer camp dedicated to training demigods to fight monsters like the one who attacked him.
The Sea of Monsters, the series’ second and last film, takes the same trio of heroes on a journey that modernizes Odysseus’ journey back home. They set out in search of the Golden Fleece, a magical object said to be able to cure anything, in order to save the tree that creates the magical barrier protecting Camp Half-Blood. It’s a more faithful adaptation of the books, making it enjoyable even if you didn’t like the first movie.
2. Immortals (2011)
Immortals is a continuation of the struggle between the Olympian gods and the Titans they deposed. Trapped beneath Mount Tartarus, the Titans await a champion who will free them. The ruthless King Hyperion decides to take up the job and goes on a search for the mythical Epirus Bow. Theseus, who is a slave in this story, steps up to challenge King Hyperion to save the world.
The movie has a satisfying conclusion and a plot that more or less follows the story structure of classic myths, but aside from the gods being featured in the movie, it’s not exactly rooted in Greek mythology. For one, Theseus never does any of the things the movie shows him doing. But still, it’s a fun film with impressive visuals and great fight scenes.
3. Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Jason and the Argonauts heavily changes key details from the original story, but keeps the seafaring adventures of Jason and his crew’s search for the Golden Fleece intact. What makes it different from other adaptations is the way it follows usual tropes we see in Greek myths. For example, there’s a deposed king, a son who must avenge him, and a divine patron who can only intervene to help a fixed number of times.
The movie also features some pretty impressive special effects for its time, so if you don’t mind watching an older movie, we recommend checking this one out.
4. Hercules (1997)
Disney’s 1997 animated film Hercules is a classic that anyone who loves Greek myths likely already knows about. Sure, it’s one of the least faithful adaptations out there. It changes the origins of Hercules entirely, making him the son of Hera and Zeus rather than Zeus’ child by a mortal woman. It also shifts Hades into the role of the villain who wants to depose Zeus – something he can only accomplish if he takes Hercules out of the picture.
Hercules is kidnapped and poisoned with a potion that saps him of his godhood. The poisoning is interrupted and he retains his godly strength, leaving the path open for him to retain his rightful place among the Olympians.
5. Black Orpheus (1959)
If you loved the music of Hercules, you’ll love Black Orpheus. The movie doesn’t feature the same genre of music as the animated adaptation, but it does feature samba which is just as lively, giving the story a much-needed update. The titular Orpheus, or Orfeu in this case, lives in Rio de Janeiro and is engaged to Mira, a samba teacher. Mira becomes terribly jealous when she realizes that a newcomer, Eurydice, is slowly falling in love with her fiance. Eurydice, who has been trying to escape Death this entire time, is revealed by Mira. This results in her death, causing Orfeu to travel to the underworld in a bid to bring her back to life.
6. Clash of the Titans (2010)
Clash of the Titans follows Perseus, the son of Zeus, on his quest to save Princess Andromeda from being devoured by a sea monster as a sacrifice to the god Hades. After discovering that he’s not actually the son of a fisherman but the god Zeus, Perseus finds the courage to go on a quest to the underworld to look for Medusa whose severed head would have the power to turn the sea monster to stone.
The title is a bit misleading since aside from the initial battle between the Olympians and the Titans, there’s not really a lot of Titans in this film nor are they its central focus. That’s not the case for its sequel film, Wrath of the Titans.
7. Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Wrath of the Titans delivers on its title by actually making the big bad of the story the Titans whom the Olympians previously deposed. Now that mortals are praying less, the Olympian gods are losing the powers that help them keep the Titans imprisoned. Fearing the annihilation of gods and mortals alike, the gods seek Perseus’ help in order to defeat them.