Greek mythology is the perfect starting point for a successful Hollywood film. The stories have been around for centuries and contain all the elements of drama, violence, love, and fantasy that are the perfect recipe for an exciting blockbuster narrative. It is no surprise, then, that the stories have been regularly incorporated into Hollywood films throughout the history of cinema.
May 4, 2023: This article has been updated by Danilo Raúl with even more films based on Greek myths and legends.
Greek mythology is expansive and features flawed characters, including the gods themselves. The realm of possibility is expanding in this universe; the politics and its characters are fascinating and, more significantly, change depending on each story. Hollywood has enjoyed making direct adaptations of classic myths and also reimaging the material for the modern age. Here are the best movies about Greek mythology, ranked.
14 Percy Jackson Franchise (2010)
The Percy Jackson franchise started with The Lightning Thief, which was a box office hit grossing $226.4 million worldwide. The film stars Logan Lerman, Jake Abel, Brandon T. Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario. Lerman plays the titular Percy Jackson, a demigod who trains at a camp with other demigods. The sequel, Sea of Monsters, was a box office disappointment grossing just under $200 million but still featured plenty of fun reworkings of Greek myths.
The series takes inspiration from Greek gods, and although they have been hugely popular at the box office, they have been less successful with fans who disagree with how much the films deviate from the books. Based on Rick Riordan’s YA novel series of the same name, Percy Jackson was a great entry point to Greek mythology for younger audiences.
13 Immortals (2011)
Immortals stars former Superman actor Henry Cavill as Theseus, a Greek character who is instructed to stop King Hyperion from obtaining the long-lost Bow of Epirus and immortalize the gods on Mount Olympus. The movie is from director Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, best known for his work on visually compelling films like The Cell and The Fall. The film is intense in visual effects and features epic battle scenes and compelling heroes. Immortals did not receive the best reviews, but it’s visually impressive and still looks so even today.
12 Iphigenia (1977)
Michael Cacoyannis directs Iphigenia. The movie is based on the stage play Iphigenia at Aulis, following the titular character, the daughter of Agamemnon, and Clytemnestra (the sister of Helen of Troy) as she questions life, duty, and faith along with those around her. The story is very character-focused and delves deep into the mindset of the characters more so than other films that deal with Greek mythology.
11 Hercules (1997)
Hercules was released in 1997 and told the classic tale of Hercules with a Disney animated twist. Hercules learns what it means to be a god, proving himself to his father, Zeus, alongside his sidekick, Philoctetes. The story is humorous and full of Greek mythological cameos, making it engaging for parents and children. The animation style and storytelling differ from other animated Disney films, and it still feels fresh when watched today. Disney is currently working on a live-action remake from director Guy Ritchie.
10 Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Jason and the Argonauts has become a cult classic and one of the most famous Greek mythology movies, even though it did not perform amazingly at the box office. The film featured stop-motion animation from legendary special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. The visuals were groundbreaking for the time of release in 1963 and follows Jason on his quest to find the Golden Fleece. It is exciting and full of adventure and remains a beloved classic.
9 Troy (2004)
Troy is a significant film associated with Greek mythology, which sees Brad Pitt stars as Achilles. Troy draws from Homer’s The Iliad and the story of Posthomerica. Wolfgang Peterson was the film’s director, and the movie portrays the Battle of Troy as King Agamemnon has control of most of the Greek Kingdoms.
He learns that his brother’s wife has been kidnapped and is having an affair, and he uses this as ammo to incite a war and gain control of the Aegean Sea. Alongside Pitt, the movie features an all-star cast that includes Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Krueger, Brian Cox, and Peter O’Toole, to name a few. Troy is famous for its strong visuals and epic battle scenes — particularly the opening fight scene — and is well worth viewing.
8 300 (2007)
300 is another film that received praise when it was released, becoming a massive success at the box office and with critics. The story is a dramatic reimagining of the real-life story of the Battle of Thermopylae. 300 follows King Leonidas (played by Gerard Butler) as he leads the Spartan warriors against the Persian army. The film is full of excitement and gore and features spectacular visual effects. This is the movie that put director Zack Snyder on the map.
7 Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clash of the Titans was released in 1981 and follows the Greek warrior Perseus. The story follows the myth of Perseus closely as he goes on a quest to slay the Gorgon Medusa and defeat a Kraken. Perseus encounters many creatures along the way, featuring visual effects that are nothing like what had been released before. The film is still enjoyable today and is one of the best depictions of Greek mythology on screen. It was remade in 2010 with star Sam Worthington stepping into the role of Perseus.
6 Minotaur (2006)
Minotaur is a horror film with fantasy elements based on Greek mythology. It works as a loose retelling of the famous story about the titular monster. Conceived in sin, a man-monster is banished to a labyrinth after being rejected by the Gods. It’s an early offering by Tom Hardy, where he plays the titular character of Theo, a man stricken by grief at losing his best friend to the Minotaur’s labyrinth.
After learning his beloved is set to be sacrificed to the Minotaur and that his friend probably still lives, he embarks on a journey to kill the monster and save his friend and fiancée. The movie is directed by Jonathan English, with a script by Nick Green and Stephen McDool.
5 Wonder Woman (2017)
One of the great things about superhero films is the lore surrounding some of these characters. Wonder Woman is heavily influenced by Greek mythology, with the Amazon being worshipers of the Gods of Olympus. The film touches upon the origins of Diana and how she departs the secluded society of warriors to integrate into the world of men.
She enters the world at the peak of conflict during the First World War. The film has a digestible nuance, touching on multiple subjects such as women’s rights, the pointlessness of conflict, and the strength of love as a binding force. Ultimately, Diana must defeat Ares, the God of War, to save humanity from further warfare.
4 Medea (1969)
Medea is an Italian film by Pier Paulo Pasolini, starring Famous Italian singer Maria Callas who leads the cast in her only acting role. This is one of the few films exploring the dark myth of Medea, a woman who betrays her nation to follow Jason and the Argonauts.
We can see Mede plan and exact her revenge by killing Jason’s family in a fire while damming his soul to eternity. It’s a bleak story about revenge lined up with the type of raw commitment to accuracy known from European productions, who avoid sugarcoating their stories to give audiences a happy ending.
3 The Odyssey (1997)
The Odyssey is a two-part epic that retells the classic story by Homer. It was written and directed by legendary filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky and is one of the most faithful adaptations ever made of the poem written by Homer. The film narrates the ten-year journey of Odysseus after fighting in the Trojan Wars.
It’s a slow burn more focused on the tales’ narrative than widescreen epic action, but it’s so rich in detail and has a well-crafted script that it makes for a very rewarding watch if you’re a fan of Greek myths. It features a talented cast that includes Armand Assante, Vanessa Williams, Greta Scacchi, Eric Roberts, and Isabella Rossellini.
2 Oedipus Rex (1967)
Oedipus Rex is another film by Pier Paulo Pasolini starring Silvana Mangano, Franco Citti, Alida Valli, and Carmelo Bene. It is based on the Greek tragedy of the same name. A kid is born, while a jealous father plots to get rid of him. After leaving the kid in the desert, he is rescued by the King and Queen of Corinth and named Oedipus.
The boy becomes a healthy man, but questions about his fate grow weary on his conscience. After visiting the Oracle of Delphi, he discovers his true destiny in a horrible prophecy: He’s destined to kill his father and marry his mother. He wants to avoid this fate at all costs but unknowingly fulfills the prediction at the expense of love, soul, and sight. Oedipus Rex was nominated for the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival in 1967.
1 Saint Seiya: Legends of Crimson Youth (1988)
The second animated entry on the list comes from Japan. Saint Seiya, known in the USA as “Knights of the Zodiac,” has four feature films released between 1986 and 2006. Saint Seiya: Legends of Crimson Youth is the third and most popular entry. Ephebus Abel is back in the world of the living after being banished by Zeus and Apollo for attempting to take the title of the Sun God.
Abel has returned to pass judgment on humans and return Athena to Olympus. Since Athena perceives Abel as too powerful for his beloved protectors, she ditches them. After betraying Abel for the sake of humanity, Athena is killed. His saints mount on a rescue before her soul can reach Elysium. It’s a solid flick with the talents of Shigeyasu Yamauchi directing, with a script by Yoshiyuki Suga and a powerful score by Seiji Yokoyama.