This is the first and may be the last and/or single time that I direct you only to the deleted scenes of a film, but that’s where we are with Clash of the Titans (2010). (Which I don’t mean to imply the movie itself is not good – in fact, I seriously seriously love it – but the incestuous element exists solely within the deleted scenes.)
FYI: the title of this entry is a reference to a quote from Community. It would be so much better if I didn’t have to tell you what the reference is, but it’s a little obscure so whatcha gonna do? (It’s from the episode Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples. Abed is making a movie and all of these crazy rumors about the movie start going around – that it’s going to be shown in reverse, that it’s the same movie backward and forward, and/or that “the deleted scenes are the scenes, and the scenes are the deleted scenes”.) It’s a SUPER clever reference given our situation here with Clash of the Titans, wouldn’t you agree? That’s why I had to make it even though that also meant I had to start off the entry with a huge paragraph explaining the title.
The Clash of the Titans remake is about human rebellion against the tyranny of the gods and the gods’ revenge. In the mythology of the movie, Zeus created the humans, but now the gods rely on the worship for the humans for the strength. The humans, tired of the gods doing whatever they want to whoever they want, have decided they’ve had enough. The gods, as a result, are growing both weak and angry. Zeus gives Hades permission to bring the humans back in line through fear. Hades threatens to unleash the Kraken on the city of Argos if they do not make a sacrifice of their princess Andromeda. Hades killed Perseus’ family in an earlier scene, and he eventually finds out that Zeus is his father, so Perseus is looking for a chance to get up close and personal with the gods and he knows that killing the Kraken is the best start. He and a grim but determined group set out from Argos to attempt to find a way to kill the Kraken.
If you’ve seen the movie but not the deleted scenes, you might be a little confused. There is no brother/sister interaction in the film at all. Perseus does have a sister who is 1) 12 years old, 2) not related by blood, and 3) so rapidly dead she hardly had a name, so you’re probably thinking that I don’t mean her and you are entirely correct.
However, that is not the case in the deleted scenes. (Which you can watch beginning here.) There is nearly 30 minutes worth of deleted, extended, and alternate scenes, and they’re all very interesting. If you watch them, you can see that the filmmakers considered (and went so far as to film) an alternate/parallel plot amongst the Olympic gods wherein Apollo is featured rather prominently as an advocate for Perseus and Zeus remains an antagonist. (Apollo has one or two lines in the final cut, but a very significant role in the alternate version.)
(Now I originally wrote this in November of 2010 but I gave it a major facelift in February of 2015, so it’s now from the POV of 2015.) Apollo is played by Luke Evans, in one of his first roles. (At the time – Nov. of 2010 – I had no idea who he was but was haunted by how familiar he looked. I’m still haunted, but I think I might have figured it out – I think it might be his resemblance to Orlando Bloom Quite a coincidence that they then went on to star together in The Hobbit films. There’s also a strong resemblance to James McAvoy.)
(And it would have been a lot more of a role if all of his scenes hadn’t been deleted!)
So who is the sister?
Let me preface this by saying that I have a special affection for incest among the Olympian gods. It’s like the aristocratic sibling incest trope on crack. They’re all incestuous, they’re all beautiful (pretty much), they live forever, they have special powers, and they do pretty much whatever the hell they want. WHAT MORE COULD A SHIPPER WANT?
My first Olympian ship was Apollo and Diana (Artemis). Ironic, since there’s so much canon incest amongst the gods and I went and fell for one of the ships that isn’t generally “canon”. Typical me. (You’ll see I have a habit of doing this.)
But it dates back to when I first saw the painting Diane sortant du bain by Boucher.
It’s an exquisite painting that I admire very much, but for some reason (and it’s really not that mysterious given the twisted workings of my mind) I got started thinking about Apollo happening upon her. It snowballed from there and became very dear to me. I was very disappointed to find that Apollo and Diana’s story does not usually have any incestuous implications.
The “evidence” is contradictory. At times I’ve researched to no avail, at other times there do seem to be some versions (why so many versions?!!) of myths which have certain implications. Most common is the story of the hunter Orion, beloved of Diana, who died…somehow. Was he stung by a scorpion as a punishment for trying something with the virgin goddess? Was he killed by Diana herself? Was she tricked into the deed by Apollo, or did he kill Orion by his own hand?If Apollo was at fault, his motivation is hazy at best, and one possible motive was his own infatuation with Diana. Not much, is it?
It seems pretty clear that they were adorable as babies:
Alas, it is not his sister Artemis who interacts with Apollo in Clash of the Titans, but Athena. (It’s understandable that they would have chosen a slightly more famous daughter of Zeus, especially since, as the goddess of wisdom and war strategy, her involvement makes more sense.)
There is one deleted/extended scene in which all of the Olympian gods interact. The credits list the names of the gods who were included, but given the unfamiliar actors it’s anyone’s guess who is who.
In fact, even though in the deleted scenes Athena has semi-significant role, it took me some research on the actress and the symbolism in order to guess. (I was thinking she was Aphrodite for a while, because she’s beautiful and blonde and acts seductively.) It’s the yellow boa constrictor that gives it away (that, and actress identification). The snake is apparently associated with Athena, which was news to me. Spread the wisdom.
Polish actress Izabella Miko plays Athena. Even in 2010 I had seen her in other things, so good for her. She kind of rocks being both sexy and adorable at the same time.
During the first scene where we see the gods congregated, Apollo and Athena are in matching throne positions, coming after Poseidon (Zeus’ brother) and (presumably) Hera (Zeus’ wife) respectively, with Zeus in the very middle. Poseidon has a few lines, but Hera does not, so this is definitely based on what makes the most sense rather than role prominence.
The gods are fighting about what to do about the humans. Apollo is calling for a truce, and argues that they need the humans and should work something out with them. (Voice of reason.)
Poseidon is calling for a forceful attack:
Interestingly, one of the only mythology stories told between the human characters is one in which Poseidon rapes Medusa, and she goes to Athena for help. Athena instead makes her hideous:
Medusa was beautiful once. So beautiful as to tempt Poseidon. When he came for her, she ran to Athena’s temple thinking that the goddess would protect her. She didn’t. Poseidon took her on the cold floor. She prayed to Athena for comfort…But the goddess felt nothing but disgust. She made sure no one would ever want Medusa again.
Athena’s motivation in that story is totally ambiguous. Is she jealous of Medusa? Does she think that Medusa should be grateful that a god wants her?
It’s an example of the tyranny of the gods that makes the humans so angry. Athena: part of the problem, part of the solution.
But if Athena has romantic feelings towards her uncle Poseidon and was jealous for that reason, it’s all the more interesting that she then takes Apollo’s side and works through Apollo.
Zeus leaves Olympus’ troubles in the hands of Hades, condemning Perseus (his son) with the rest of the humans.
In the next relevant deleted scene, we see Apollo walk into the vacant throne room and sit thoughtfully down on Zeus’ throne. (Symbolic much?) We think he is alone, but then the camera pans over, and Athena is sitting in a corner.
“Comfortable?” she asks cannily. She goes right to the heart of the matter – Apollo and the throne.
Apollo is startled, and probably a little embarrassed to have been caught sitting on the throne. When he sees it’s her, he’s slightly relieved. I don’t to read too much into this scene (that’s a lie), but I like the interpretation that the two of them are sort of frigidly buddy-buddy, and Apollo is not particularly worried about being under Athena’s observation. He’s not only relieved, but I think a little tickled. At least, I see the hint of a smile. He’s also genuinely curious.
That gives us a lot to speculate on in terms of their relationship. (Since Apollo and Athena had so few scenes, I think Luke Evans and Izabella Miko probably put a lot of thought into each acting choice in this scene.)
She says that she’s thinking, which is exactly what he’s doing there too, of course. They’ve got that much in common. They both feel a calling to really do something about the situation, but neither one is sure what to do. They both came to the same place to ponder.
Apollo is highly amused by her response:
It’s my assumption that he knows that Athena+ thinking= up to no good. Plus I think he’s being careful.
To be perfectly honest, this alone would make me ship it. And we’re just getting started.
This says to me: You’re going to be my ally – resistance is futile.
Athena explains her position – she doesn’t trust Hades, and she’s worried what the consequences will be. She’s wise – Hades resents Zeus and is planning his betrayal from the start. Hades isn’t just blinded by his anger, he’s also an idiot.
(Notice Athena says “our father”, establishing in this very scene that she and Apollo are siblings, even though her name is never established.)
What I find most interesting is the implied connection between Apollo and Athena. Apollo must “distance” himself, meaning if Athena says this it’ll be perceived that Apollo is with her on it. Again, we can interpret a certain closeness.
She’s laughing at his joke – flirty.
Oh, Apollo, you’re so clever and funny hehehe.
But it’s also a wise sort of laugh. Like, “Oh, we’re playing this game again. It’s on.”
Athena rises and makes her slow, seductive way over to him. I think she mixes her words and her approach on purpose in order to manipulate him. Words = trouble, but Athena coming closer = good. Now there’s something very regal and goddess-like to all of her movements, which I really appreciate. And I think we’re probably supposed to assume that to some degree she’s always like this – these are not humans after all. But this is not casual!Athena. She doesn’t always stand up like that. She doesn’t always walk like that. This is a dance that she’s doing for Apollo.
Notice Apollo. He’s very wary. DON’T LET IT COME CLOSER IT WILL SEDUCE ME. Of course, it’s possible he’s also concerned about what she is saying. Is this news to him? If so, Athena is very smart to be afraid of something he hasn’t even considered yet. I think there’s an element of that, by my reading has always been that he’s very wary of Athena coming closer because he knows she’s about to use her feminine wiles and he knows he has a particular weakness for them. Whatever she wants, he may not be able to resist giving it to her, and that’s why he’s apprehensive.
When Athena reaches Apollo, she rests her hand on the armor plating that covers his shin and knee. She makes physical contact basically right away. Notice that he looks down when she touches him. They’re staring eye-to-eye (somewhat intensely, ymmv), but it stops being about the conversation and becomes all about the touching for him once she touches him.
She’s very touchy feely, this Athena.
And she’s about to get more so!
She slides her hand down the plating. He can’t feel this, but any kind of sliding like that is inappropriate. Slow caressing is pretty much off the table between adult relatives unless someone is crying.
Inappropriate, yes, but NOT ENOUGH.
Note how this isn’t just Apollo’s leg – this is his upper thigh. Athena just put her hand on her brother’s upper thigh and – yes, you’re seeing this correctly – that’s more sliding. Possibly some squeezing.
It’s pretty flagrantly sexual at this point.
Don’t forget to watch Apollo’s eyes! He has looked back to her face, but the hand-jump to his thigh gets him looking back down again.
But then, remarkably, he almost ignores it. In fact, this is when he finally speaks. “We can’t oppose Hades,” Apollo says.
Oh no, Athena! It’s not working! Sex isn’t working. You’ve got to try love now!
Apollo slowly lifts up his hand, and makes a tentatively and then failing fist. The implication is that he doesn’t think he’s strong enough. It works almost as if it’s dialogue, as if he’s saying, “I’m not strong enough.”
Let’s just take a moment to think about the fact that he’s admitting this to her. Because thems was fighting words back in that earlier scene with Hades. But Athena defended him, and now he’s being vulnerable with her.
Athena rushes over and covers his fist with her hands. Look at Apollo’s face – how ashamed he is. He is weak and he cannot stand it. Athena shows sympathy and love here. She hugs the fist. She doesn’t care that the fist is weak, she loves the fist. She loves him. And she’s in such a hurry to do it. It’s like she’s saying, “No! Don’t think that. Don’t you dare think that you’re too weak to do anything!.”
Apollo doesn’t resist. He lets her comfort him. Another sign of vulnerability, another way in which he exposes himself to her.
But she still has an agenda. This Athena, she’s got ideas. She caresses his hand – less sexual, but still “inappropriate”. You see that she’s slowly working it open in order to intertwine their fingers. (A symbol almost exclusively of romantic love.) Apollo’s flippin’ face though. Danger! Danger! She was literally groping his thigh but he’s having just as much reaction to this affectionate hand-holding. It’s just one scene and these two will be the death of me. Look at the way he’s watching her do it. First her face in the top gif – “My angel!” – and then staring down at their hands in the bottom gif – “f——–k”
And then Athena’s face. You can see in the bottom gif that she’s getting ready to say something and she knows he’s not going to like it.
It took me forever to figure out what Athena was saying here. It sounded so much like, “But this purse his.” Which obviously doesn’t make any sense. I finally decided that the only thing she could be saying is, “But this Perseus is.” The only problem was that her “but” was a response – a contradiction – to something that Apollo never said. Which was when I realized that his gesture with his fist was the equivalent of him saying, “I’m not strong enough.” And here Athena is saying, “No, you’re not. But maybe Perseus can do what you cannot do.”
It’s easy to understand why that would be hard for Apollo to hear.
(As for how much sense this all makes – Perseus being stronger, etc. – that’s out of the purview of this commentary.)
Athena knows these words hurt him, and also that they’re the challenge to him. Is he going to let his ego get in the way, or he is going to proceed forward with the method that will actually accomplish their goals.
All of this stroking is just the sugar to help the medicine go down. And the medicine – the thing that Athena has realized and accepted – is that they need Perseus to do their heavy lifting.
Gosh, I just love how much is going on here.
He’s thinking about it. But then he grows angry:Like father, like son with the whole temper thing, eh? I love Athena’s reaction. She’s a little bit afraid of his anger. Notice how quickly she gets out of his way. I think she’s worried she has lost his support. She was trying so hard to make this gentle and easy on him, to get him to come around to see things her way, and here she might have just lost him.
Isn’t it beautiful the way she twirls a little to the side and her dress floats around in his wake? I really love all the motion in that sequence. She reacts so gracefully to be thrown off. Do you see the way she plants her feet? It’s just lovely.
I think it’s a well done little moment because you can tell it’s not her that he’s mad at, even as he probably realizes exactly what she’s doing. That’s partly what’s so unique about this scene: he seems to understand that she’s trying to seduce him into doing something, but he lets her. He doesn’t just play along, he lets her actually seduce him.
Apollo ends up doing exactly what she wants him to do, even though at the end of this scene he seems resolved not to do anything. Eventually he does go to their father, and tentatively broach the subject of supporting Perseus and not trusting Hades. He fails to convince his father of anything, so he visits Perseus himself, gives him some encouragement and help. In the actual film, it’s Zeus who goes to visit Perseus. I don’t like all of the alternate scenes (the alternate ending with Andromeda and Perseus going to Olympus is unthinkable), but Zeus remaining a hardliner and Apollo supporting Perseus I think actually work better.
Even though she’s trying to manipulate him, it’s all right because she’s right. And he agrees with her, he’s just too afraid to do anything. She’s too afraid as well, that’s why she gets him to do it for her. So I love the partnership there, and the teamwork. Apollo as Athena’s witting minion is a beautiful thing. Plus we have Athena siding with Apollo against their father, which in combination with Apollo sitting on Zeus’ throne make for some interesting speculation about Apollo overthrowing Zeus and Athena being his queen. Yes please.
So let’s review:
I think it’s pretty clear that she’s using the full extent of her charms on him, even though he’s her brother (and they make the relationship clear). There is definitely an undertone of incest in this scene.
Why? Perhaps because the Olympian gods (most gods, really) are associated to some degree with their incest. I know that’s a connection I often made even before my current state. I remember reading an account for Constantine’s wife trying to convince him to become a Christian. She reminded him that his gods were incestuous. Like that was one of the main reasons why they shouldn’t be worshiped. I won’t even start in on how ridiculous that is. Like, by all means, convince him to become a Christian, but Zeus marrying his sister is not your best argument.
I know it’s just a handful of scenes – and deleted ones on top of that – but I have such a huge place in my heart for these two. So, long story short: check out the deleted scenes for Clash of the Titans to see a little bit more of Apollo and Athena. And let that be a lesson to you: always check out the deleted scenes you never know there might be a sister seducing her brother in them.
Cute cast pic:
-One of the other roles I knew Izabella Miko from was The House Of Usher, a low-budget production with a modern take on Poe’s tale. There’s possibly some implied incest in the original but it’s a bit more explicit in this version. Not as explicit as I would have liked, sadly.
-Funnily enough, Luke Evans would go on to star as Zeus in Immortals. I flippin’ love that movie too. It’s one of my favorites. In that movie, Athena is once again the only represented goddess, and once again conspires with her brother (this time Ares) against their father to help a human hero. I ship Athena and Ares quite a lot, but once again the incestuous vibes are with the Luke Evans character: