Favorite Fictional Characters, #235: Megara
The Disney treatment of Hercules is pretty thin, pitiful stuff, especially considering the wealth of primary source material. Hercules was never my favorite, though Marvel's comic rendition of the Lion of Olympus as a thick-skulled hedonistic brawler is worthwhile. Back to the 1997 cartoon, there are two bright spots. One is James Woods' acerbic Hades. The other is Megara, the love interest/heroine of the film.
Megara of myth was Hercules' first wife and mother of his children, all of whom he slew in a Hera-inspired fit of madness. Disney's Megara has more durability and personality, and is a marked departure from the traditional princess fare. She's heroic in her own right, sacrificing herself for loved ones more than once, even at the risk of her own eternal damnation. Not that it's always easy - part of Megara's appeal is that she's tempted to sell our hero up the River Styx to advance her own interests. Meg is nuanced, flawed, and very human.
She's also a sarcastic, wry, bitter creature, an eye-rolling dame too frequently burned before to leap at new promises. There's a weary quality to her, a well-earned cynicism that makes her the most real of Disney's leading ladies, a ringlet-wreathed tragic figure determined not to be fooled again.