The upcoming Disney show “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” could correct the mistakes of the demigods made in the film adaptation. Rick Riordan’s best-selling fantasy novels of the same name for teenagers were first turned into a moderately successful, but short-lived film franchise, starting with the 2010 film “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief”. A reboot of the TV series is currently in development for streaming on Disney+, with Walker Scobell playing Percy Jackson and Riordan as a consultant, and he has a chance to fix a number of problems with the previous adaptation, including its incorrect priorities.
One of the problems with the Percy Jackson films was ignoring some of the basic ideas of Riordan’s books. On the page, the interaction between other demigods in Camp Half-blood contextualized the story and presented the key themes of the series about the found family and the neglected upbringing of the gods. The Greek pantheon is inextricably linked to the family drama, and all demigods come from incomplete families as a result of their birth. Most of them had a difficult childhood, and this was reflected in the novels Percy Jackson. The problem with Percy Jackson movies is that they overlook these themes, preferring to create a romantic plot as early as possible, focusing immediately on the character of Annabeth’s love interest— even if Percy looks at her longingly in slow motion in the middle of a fight—and mostly ignoring the other demigods.
The Disney+ series should correct this serious mistake of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and, first of all, explore the themes of parental responsibility and family creation. This can be achieved by providing more information about other demigod characters and deepening their relationship with Percy and with each other. More detailed customization of these characters and their connections in the improved adaptation Percy Jackson will also create a framework for viewers to take care of other demigods when they do get more screen time, as Clarissa did in the sequel to Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters after she was absent from the first film. And building these interactions with the community and focusing on the new found family of characters in Camp Half-blood should be easier to do because of the exact book age of the characters in the series. Unlike the films that aged Percy, Annabeth and the rest of the demigods, forcing an immediate romance instead of developing an ensemble of characters would make little sense.
Including the difficulties of the other demigods in the camp, especially the feeling of neglect experienced by the children of Hermes, a TV show about Percy Jackson could also more accurately establish the motives of these characters. In the novels, Luke Castellan’s cabin had the worst living conditions. His father, Hermes, had the most children among all the gods, and he also adopted all the descendants of minor gods who did not have their own hut. This created cramped quarters for many of them, which emphasized Luke’s sense of abandonment and was an important factor that prompted him to turn to Kronos and become the antagonist of the story. In Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Luke’s room seems luxurious, filled with video games and an arsenal of magical weapons, so he didn’t have the same reasonable motivation to rebel against the gods.
To correct the mistakes of the demigods in the movies Percy Jackson, cutting out romance may be a necessary sacrifice. At least from the beginning. But this solution would in any case be more faithful to the novels. In Riordan’s source material, the novel of Percy and Annabeth does not appear even before the third book, so it should not be related to the first episodes of the television series about Percy Jackson. By focusing on these relationships, the films sacrificed valuable screen time that could be devoted to other demigods and the community at Camp Half-Blood, which is very important in Riordan’s universe. Fortunately, the increased screen time that Percy Jackson and the Olympians will have as a TV show should allow him to properly explore the stories of other demigods.