The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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The redemption of Percy Jackson

Disney’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” show redeems previous visual adaptations
Image courtesy of Disney+
Ready to continue on their quest, the trio prepares to brave the Underworld. Debuting with a near-perfect rotten tomatoes score, the television series offers a clear contrast between the previous movie adaptation, which received a rotten tomatoes score of just 49%.

The first two episodes of the Disney show “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” dropped on Dec. 19, instantly becoming a hit among both new and old fans. The show is based on Rick Riordan’s critically acclaimed “Percy Jackson” book series. One of the most significant factors that helped promote this show was the previously underwhelming release of the 20th Century Fox film, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,” and the expectation of redemption.

The original film adaptation “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” (2010) was subjected to heavy criticism, described as “unadventurous” and “uninteresting.” Even Riordan, the book’s author, had no positive words to say about the film and expressed interest in being more involved in future adaptations. He wrote a message to fans on his website in 2018, stating, “I would be happy to consult and advise IF they want me and IF the new project was undertaken by a completely different team than the one which made the movies.”

Although I found the movie pretty entertaining as a standalone, there were clear discrepancies between the books and the 2010 film adaptation. For example, the film added an entirely new subplot with the characters attempting to obtain pearls throughout their quest and removed the original final fight scene in the book, when Percy fights Ares. To readers expecting an accurate adaptation of the novel, it is clear why the film was such a disappointment. Eventually, Riordan pitched the idea for the television show adaptation of the series, and by 2020, the show was announced in the works by Disney+.

With over 13 million streams of the show’s premiere, the release of Disney’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” (2023) was received warmly by viewers, many of whom commended the casting and the action-filled plot. The series follows 12-year-old Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell) as he and his two friends, Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries) and Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri), make their way to the underworld to save Percy’s mother and retrieve and return Zeus’s lightning bolt.

Following readers’ wishes to create a book-to-screen-accurate adaptation, episode one starts strong, mirroring the book’s opening seamlessly. Scobell’s portrayal perfectly captures Percy’s mischievous and clueless nature while Simhardi’s portrayal of Grover’s enthusiasm and loyalty allows viewers to instantly connect with the characters on the screen in the same way they were once attached to them on paper. We also get a brief appearance of Annabeth, and although the cameo is mere seconds, Annabeth’s strong-minded nature is made abundantly clear. These portrayals starkly contrast the 2010 film’s interpretation of the characters, with their personalities often being described as bland and dry. 

Throughout the rest of the episodes, viewers follow the three characters as they face various monsters and gods in Greek mythology. Unlike the film, it is clear to see the characters’ growing chemistry as the show progresses—particularly Percy and Annabeth. With many viewers taking to social media to ship the characters together, the show gained extreme traction amongst both new and old fans alike. 

One of the most pivotal moments of the trio’s relationship occurs when they’re being pursued by the monster, Echidna, on the Gateway Arch. When Percy realizes that Echidna will catch up to them no matter what, he tricks Annabeth into letting him fight the monster on his own so that she and Grover can escape. This act of bravery and sacrifice seals the trio’s trust in each other and displays Percy’s heroic nature.

Not only was this scene a significant point in developing the characters’ relationships, but it also resurfaced as a humorous topic for viewers to question. In the novel, Percy eventually falls off of the Gateway Arch and into the sea under it. However, viewers were quick to point out that the arch is 600 feet tall and about 500 feet away from the water,  and that there was no way physics would allow for him to land in the water. Riordan addressed this, stating that he thought the water was closer. The show later rectified this mistake by settling on the fact that it was ultimately the water that grabbed Percy and pulled him into the safety of the ocean.

Filled with humor, tension, and heartwarming moments, Riordan proves that he can create vivid worlds and lovable characters repeatedly. Season two of the series has already been confirmed. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is a perfect binge-worthy show for both readers and non-readers, surpassing expectations and captivating audiences.

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