12 Mythological Gods Who Deserve More Screen Time

Friday, February 12, 2010 at 12:20 am
By Shane Rivers

This list of the 12 mythological gods who deserve more screen time was inspired by the upcoming release of both Clash of the Titans and the first installment of Percy Jackson & the Olympians. Guys like Zeus and Hades seem to soak up all the cinematic love, and even Thor has his big-screen solo project coming in 2011. In the list below, I’ve compiled a group of supreme beings every bit as deserving. Some made the cut because of the wild myths associated with them, while others got here due to raw, world-destroying power. Either way, here’s hoping the following gods and goddesses find themselves part of the Hollywood machine in the coming years.

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Name: Ahpuch
Also known as: Kimil, God-A, Yumcimil and Cizin (among others)
Member of the: Mayan pantheon
Specialty: Lord of Death, Patron God of the Number Ten, Ruler of the Ninth Level of Hell
Why he made the list: Ralph Fiennes sure cuts a dashing figure as Hades in the new Clash of the Titans film, but he can’t hold a candle to Ahpuch when it comes to pure evil. You’re also unlikely to ever see the Oscar-winning actor playing a character known as “The Flatulent One,” but that’s one of the many nicknames of this owl-headed death god. Wearing the body of a rotting corpse, Ahpuch sneaks around in the night looking for fresh victims. With bells in his hair, an evil messenger bird named Muan, and headgear adorned with eyeballs of the dead, this Mayan badass can best be avoided by screaming at the top of your lungs. That’s because Ahpuch mistakes cries of terror for someone already being tormented by the denizens of the underworld. Now that’s what I call a villain just begging for a big-screen role.
Who should play him: While I was initially going to say Lance Henriksen, it dawned on me that having someone with a Mexican or Central American heritage would be more appropriate. That’s why Danny Trejo gets my vote for the big-screen portrayal of this death god. With his way-beyond-weathered face and muscular build, the aging Trejo still looks like he could drag a few villagers away to their doom if asked to. Besides, when’s the last time you saw a god with a tattoo of a woman wearing a sombrero on his chest?

Baron SamediName: Baron Samedi
Also known as: Samedi, Baron Saturday, Baron Cimetiere, Baron La Croix, and Baron Kriminel
Member of the: Caribbean pantheon
Specialty: Loa of the Dead, Guardian of the Cemetery, Loa of Sexuality
Why he made the list: Baron Samedi has really been shortchanged by the movie industry, only landing a small role in the James Bond film Live and Let Die. One of the most powerful of the Haitian Voudou loa, Samedi cuts a dashing figure in a top hat, tuxedo, cane and dark sunglasses. Speaking with a nasally voice (most likely due to the cotton placed in his nose in keeping with Haitian burial practices), Samedi is depicted as having either a skull for a face or as a black male with his face painted up like one. Either way, he’s an impressive figure, and that’s just the beginning.  Besides his love for cigars and rum, the Baron is also known to cheat on his wife, Mama Brigitte, with an assortment of men and women. When he’s not cross-dressing, you can often find the Baron cussing up a storm and telling inappropriate jokes to the other members of his pantheon. With his ability to heal any wound, prevent zombies from rising, and a keen knowledge of black magic and hexes, Baron Samedi is a given for this list of the 12 mythological gods who deserve more screen time.
Who should play him: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. A massive and powerful presence as Mr. Eko on the television series Lost, Akinnuoye-Agbaje has also demonstrated a more seductive side in videos for En Vogue, Mary J. Blige and The Pet Shop Boys. While the Baron embodies a wide range of qualities, this talented Buddhist has the skills to capture each and every one.

Name: Lan Caihe
Also known as: Lan Zaihe and Lan T’Sai Ho
Member of the: Chinese pantheon
Specialty: One of the Eight Immortals, Patron of the Impoverished, Patron of Minstrels
Why he/she made the list: While not fit for a starring role, Lan Caihe is the kind of eccentric supporting character that all screenwriters dream of. Often depicted as a transvestite or transsexual, he gained immortality after nursing a boil-ridden beggar back to health (which may have been the god Li Tieguai in disguise). Effeminate and perpetually blitzed on alcohol, he/she likes to sleep naked in the snow and only wears one shoe when traveling. Lan Caihe also plays a groovy pair of bamboo castanets, and the accompanying lyrics are sometimes said to predict the future. If Hollywood ever catches on to the whole Chinese tranny trend, this character is a lock for a film role.
Who should play him/her: Even though he’s been dead since 2003, former Chinese actor/singer Leslie Cheung would’ve been my first choice for the part. Bi-sexual in real life, Cheung was one of the few Hong Kong actors who dared to play gay roles, and Farewell My Concubine displays just how perfect he would’ve been. Of course, when does Hollywood ever worry about casting racially-appropriate actors for their roles? I’m guessing Andy Dick would probably end up getting the part.

KaliName: Kali
Also known as: The Black One, Kalika
Member of the: Indian (Hindu) pantheon
Specialty: Goddess of Time and Change, Mother of the Universe
Why she made the list: Originally depicted as a force of annihilation, Kali was known to slay her opponents and then dance around in a bloodthirsty frenzy. In fact, her husband Shiva is often depicted as one of the unlucky corpses she’s dancing on top of. While modern-day worshipers often view her as a helpful mother goddess, the image of Kali as a tongue-wagging, fanged, four-armed, black-skinned monstrosity would give special effects wizards plenty to work with (not to mention her rather impressive necklace made up of severed human heads).
Who should play her: Shilpa Shetty. Anyone who’s seen this stunning Bollywood actress knows she would be perfect as the scantily-clad goddess. Between being racially bullied on Big Brother, accused of obscenity and mafia ties, and being controversially kissed on the cheek by Richard Gere, I’m sure she’d jump at the opportunity to do her own dance of destruction.

Name: Dionysus
Also known as: Bromios, Bacchus, Liber and Dithyrambos
Member of the: Greek pantheon
Specialty: God of Wine, Patron of the Theater and Agriculture
Why he made the list: If the worship of Greek gods was suddenly thrust into modern times, there’s little doubt that Dionysus would be among the most popular; the guy’s all about immediate gratification through wine and fornication. In one possible origin story, he was the product of Zeus’ one night stand with a mortal woman. Zeus’ jealous wife, Hera, tricked the pregnant young woman into calling forth the king of the Greek gods in all his divine glory, an act which left her an adulterous little pile of ashes. But Zeus saved the infant by sewing him into his thigh, which is something I’m pretty sure isn’t covered by modern health care providers. In another version, Dionysus was the product of a union between Zeus and Persephone, the queen of the underworld. Hera was pissed in this version, as well, and so she convinced some Titans to lure the child away with toys, tear him into pieces, and devour him. The plan almost worked to perfection, as Zeus arrived with only the infant’s heart left intact. But that was more than enough, and he used the remaining organ to impregnate a mortal woman. Known for his physical beauty, Dionysus was raised as a girl in some legends. In others, his upbringing was seen to by the ever-horny nymphs. About the time he discovered his special relationship with wine, he was struck mad by the vengeful Hera. As his worship grew, he attracted a group of all-female followers known as the maenads. These crazy chicks would get drunk on wine, dance ecstatically, have massive orgies, and then roam the countryside in a homicidal frenzy, tearing apart any creature they encountered (even men, women and children). Other stories included: getting kidnapped (briefly) by greedy sailors, granting King Midas his cursed golden touch, rescuing his mother from the underworld, and driving anyone who offended him insane.
Who should play him: Justin Timberlake drives women wild with lust, and I’m sure he’s sipped plenty of high-quality booze in his time. Since he’s been beefing up his acting resume in recent years, I’m thinking he’s got the necessary chops to pull it off. After all, Dionysus was basically a glorified rock star without all the musical trappings. Plus, I’m confident that the ever-stylish Timberlake would look all kinds of fly when riding in a golden chariot drawn by panthers (one of this god’s primary means of transportation).

CronusName: Cronus
Also known as: Kronos or Cronos
Member of the: Greek pantheon
Specialty: Harvest Deity
Why he made the list: One of the powerful beings known as the Titans, Cronus succeeded his father, Uranus, by cutting off his penis and throwing it into the sea (that oughta do the trick). He then ruled over creation with his sister as king and queen. If the story ended there, Cronus would already be a damned interesting dude. But it doesn’t, of course.  This is Greek mythology, after all, so things just get increasingly strange. Cronus learned that he would eventually be overthrown by one of his own children, so he devoured his offspring Hera, Demeter, Hades, Hestia and Poseidon as soon as they were born. His wife/sister, Rhea, tired of this behavior, and so a plan was hatched to save their latest child, Zeus. Rhea gave birth to the future king of the Greek gods in secret, then gave Cronus a stone wrapped up in swaddling clothes. The Titan gulped down the stone, thought nothing more about the matter, and Zeus grew up in secrecy.  When Zeus was older, he slipped his father a poison, causing the old man to throw up everything he had devoured, including his other five children. Zeus, Hades and Poseidon weren’t about to squander the opportunity; they chopped their father into a million pieces and consigned him to the underworld of Tartarus.
Who should play him: Rip Torn. If he’s crazy enough to break into a bank and stay there overnight, he might very well be crazy enough to castrate the ruler of the universe and later devour his own children. He once whacked Norman Mailer in the head with a hammer, so I’m sure the late writer/director would’ve agreed.

Name: Abeguwo
Member of the: Oceanic pantheon
Specialty: Goddess of Rain
Why she made the list: Abeguwo lives in the sky and appears to have a very active bladder. That’s because all the rainfall around the globe is actually her urine. See, when Abeguwo needs to go number one, this goddess has no interest in heading to the local toilet. She just squats down and delivers a big ‘ol golden shower right on the face of Mother Earth. No word on whether or not this turns Mother Earth on or how much she has to pay for it.  I’ll never watch that classic Gene Kelly scene from Singin’ in the Rain the same way again.
Who should play her: Christina Aguilera. Despite her new glamorous image, I have to wonder if her old skanky persona wouldn’t have been into this scene just a little bit.

Baldur's DeathName: Baldur
Also known as: Baldr, Balder, Phol
Member of the: Norse pantheon
Specialty: Light, Love, Beauty, and Happiness
Why he made the list: So virtuous that light radiated from his body, Baldur would be a perfect do-gooder in a big-screen film about the Norse gods. After he and his mother, Frigg, had dreams about his death, she went around making every object on Earth promise not to hurt her beloved son. But she passed over the mistletoe, as it seemed too harmless to matter. Whoops. The devious god Loki made an arrow from the plant and headed out to where the gods were passing time by throwing things at Baldur and watching them bounce off (in keeping with their promise to Frigg). Giving the arrow to the blind god Hoor and guiding his hand, Loki saw to it that the fair Baldur was slain. The funeral was a real sight, as his wife threw herself into his funeral pyre, and Thor kicked in a dwarf for good measure. But Baldur got a second chance when Hel, the goddess of the underworld, agreed to let him go if everything, both dead and alive, would weep at his passing. That went great until a spiteful giantess named Pokk refused to play along (which turned out to be Loki in disguise). So Baldur is stuck in the underworld until after the apocalyptic time of Ragnarok.
Who should play him: Bradley Cooper. No matter what your sexual orientation, you’ve gotta admit that The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper is one good-looking guy. Giving him blonde hair and rich Asgardian clothing isn’t going to change that one bit.

Name: Coyote
Also known as: Old Man, Old Man Coyote, First Scolder, Akba Atatdia
Member of the: Native American pantheon
Specialty: Trickster God
Why he made the list: Not all big-screen movies about mythological gods needs to be dark and depressing, and that’s where Coyote comes in. An irrepressible trickster who takes on the form of an anthropomorphic coyote, he’s said to be responsible for the creation of the Milky Way (among other things). While impressing the lady folk by juggling his eyeballs, Coyote once threw one so high that it got stuck in the sky and became the star Arcturus. According to another legend, Coyote once filled in for the moon when it got stolen. He did a fine job until he realized that his perch allowed him to see what everyone was up to…all the time. The temptation was too much, and soon Coyote was airing the dirty laundry of all the other Native American gods. Before long, the irritated members of the pantheon voted him out of the sky. And the list of his wacky exploits just goes on and on.
Who should play him: If they were Native American, either Jim Carrey or director Roberto Benigni would be fine choices. But they’re not, so I’ll go with Graham Greene, an Oneida actor who’s more than demonstrated his range in films like Maverick and Dances with Wolves.

AresName: Ares
Also known as: Mars and Enyalius
Member of the: Greek pantheon
Specialty: God of War, God of Bloodlust, God of Slaughter
Why he made the list: An interesting figure, Ares sure seemed to get humiliated a lot to be the Greek god most associated with war. Hercules once wounded him, he was caught mid-coitus in a net along with his lover Aphrodite and displayed for the amusement of the gods, and he was twice driven from the battlefield during the Trojan War. Greek scholars valued logic and wisdom, so it figures that a god driven by bloodlust would be painted as something of a buffoon. Those crazy-ass Spartans did pay tribute to him, though, and each of their youths sacrificed a puppy in his honor before engaging in ritualistic combat. How charming.
Who should play him: Hugh Jackman. While it’s too bad that Xena’s Kevin Smith is no longer alive to portray the complex warrior god, I think the Aussie actor best known for his role as Wolverine would do just fine. After all, Wolverine is a bloodthirsty badass who’s got it on with a number of Marvel’s most beautiful women, so there are plenty of similarities. Besides, Jackman would look all kinds of cool dressed in bronze armor and driving around in a chariot pulled by four fire-breathing stallions.

Name: Shasti
Member of the: Indian (Hindu) pantheon
Specialty: Protector of Newborn Babies
Why she made the list: I didn’t know this, but apparently babies are especially vulnerable to demon attacks when they’re six days old. I guess children getting gobbled up by demons is a common problem in India, because they went right out and invented this rather unique goddess. If you think your tyke might become a snack for evil forces, just call upon the aid of Shasti. Before you know it, this champion of children will ride in on her sacred cat and save the day. That’s right…she rides a sacred cat (which is, in my opinion, way better than a traditional giant cat).
Who should play her: Freida Pinto. The stunning star of Slumdog Millionaire is currently the highest paid actress in India. What better way to justify her salary than by spending hours in front of a green screen pretending to ride a magical feline?

SetName: Set
Also known as: Seth, Seti, Sutekh, Setesh, and Setekh
Member of the: Egyptian pantheon
Specialty: God of Foreigners, God of the Deserts, God of Darkness, God of Storms, and God of Chaos
Why he made the list: With a forked tail, curved snout and square ears, Set was one of the more bizarre-looking Egyptian gods. He was also the deadliest, as evidenced by his jealous murder of his younger brother, the wise and noble Osiris. Tricking his brother into reclining inside a wooden sarcophagus, Set promptly closed the lid, filled it with lead, and then threw it into the Nile. Osiris’ wife/sister, Isis, found the coffin and gave her husband a proper burial, but the vindictive Set dug it up and chopped the body into 14 parts. To demonstrate that he wasn’t someone to mess with, he proceeded to eat his brother’s severed penis. But loyal wife Isis tracked down her husband’s parts (well, all except for the penis) and managed to have her hubby resurrected as the King of the Afterworld. The feud continued with Osiris’ son Horus, and Set once tried to sexually assault his nephew while having him over as his guest. He failed when Horus awoke and caught the mad god’s seed in his hand, which Isis later cut off and threw into the Nile. Planning her revenge, she got Horus to masturbate in a jar, then sprinkled the seed over the lettuce patch where Set feasted every morning. When he gobbled down the special lettuce, he found himself pregnant and the laughing stock of the pantheon. And here I thought the family from Precious was screwed up.
Who should play him: Arnold Vosloo. He did such a fine job playing the villainous Imhotep in the Mummy movies, why not let him have another crack at an Egyptian baddie?