From The Hunger Games to The Maze Runner, Young Adult novel adaptations seemed especially abundant about a decade ago. In the realm of this Hollywood obsession, there was and has always been the debate of if the films do the books justice. And in the case of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series? The two film adaptations that came out of it often find themselves being listed as some of the worst of all time. But now Percy Jackson is getting a rare second chance.
The books written by Rick Riordan, started back in the early 2000s, center on the titular character discovering himself to be the demigod child of Poseidon. It’s a wonderful series that does not only a fantastic job at getting kids interested in Greek mythology but also at simply telling an engaging story. In terms of bringing the fantastical to the modern day, its popularity should have realistically risen to Harry Potter levels of cultural impact. The movies pretty much ruined that hope, though.
Trying with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and trying again with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the films just didn’t work. Arguments are inevitable with novel to film productions, as things are always changed or altered, but it’s kind of difficult to even have the book versus movie debate when the movie isn’t even well made in the first place. The Percy Jackson adaptations were horrible films to begin with, and as a result, even worse adaptations.
As much as book fans were disappointed, it’s also no secret that Riordan himself hasn’t exactly been a proponent of the films made off of his work – especially seeing as he still has yet to even watch them. Now, though, after word got out in early 2020 that Disney was developing another Percy Jackson adaptation, Riordan is right at the helm of the newly green-lit Disney+ series. Both he and his wife, Becky, will be serving as executive producers of the show, which is a fantastic sign for fans who have been wanting a better, more true to the books, live adaptation.
First and foremost, the most obvious fix from the films is that this doesn’t need to be a big Hollywood fan-casting extravaganza. With Riordan behind the scenes in all regards, the series should be sure to find some new faces appropriately aged to the pre-teen kids they’ll be portraying from the novels.
And the fact that this will be a TV series adaptation is all the more promising as it gives the unique opportunity for the show-makers to take an even more intense Harry Potter-esque approach. There’s time to let the story breathe and the characters develop naturally. Take the show a season and book at a time and let those involved age with the story and those watching. It’s not necessary at all to cram too much in at a time in one go. After the failure of the previous films, it’s even more vital to stay as faithful to the novels as possible through this second chance.
With Riordan’s involvement, we might be looking forward to Percy Jackson and the Olympians lasting for five seasons for each of the five respective books and potentially even moving on to The Heroes of Olympus series that sees the Percy Jackson kids move on to meet other demigods based out of Roman mythology. If done in a way that honors the charm of the books, this has the potential to be the start of a more than decade long Riordan universe that sees the cast and crew age up with a whole new generation of Percy Jackson fans in addition to longtime ones that are well into adulthood now.
Or, it could all crash and burn just like its film predecessors. But there’s a lot more hope with Disney wisely giving Riordan the reins this time around.
So, have some cautious optimism and look forward to more news coming as time goes on. Since we most likely won’t see this thing for another couple of years, it’s okay to sit back and trust that the books are in much, much better hands now. While we wait for premiere and casting announcements, though, the only thing to maybe push for is a Logan Lerman return as Poseidon. But that’s just a little wish on top of the mountain of expectations and hype this series is about to tackle head on.
Jackson Horvat is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.