The Percy Jackson Movies: What Went Wrong?

Andriana Rud

Look, I love all of Rick Riordan’s books to death. He is without a doubt my favorite author, and I’m definitely not alone in that regard. The Percy Jackson books launched him into fame as a writer for preteens and others, and it’s not hard to see why we all stan this amazing human being, which is why fans were ecstatic when a movie adaptation for Percy Jackson was announced in 2010 with the same director as the Harry Potter movies. And why they were rioting on the internet when that adaptation turned out to be the most unfaithful, boring, and downright worst movie that many of them have ever seen. Now, the movie already unnecessarily changed so many details and major plot points of the book to the point where it’s almost unrecognizable by anybody who grew up reading the books, but today I want to go over the movies worst flaw-how it absolutely butchered our lovable and interesting main characters to become bland, poorly used, and awful mirages of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. So today, we’ll be analyzing everything that went wrong and how the writers could have done a lot better to not disappoint fans and even Rick himself.

First of all: Percy. I think the main problem with Percy was the inconsistent characterization and a huge amount of angst added to his personality. While Percy was pretty powerful in the books, the movies make him way too overpowered, to the point where he is given all of his friend’s accomplishments and effectively makes them useless as characters. However, in the second movie, Percy is still the underdog and Clarisse is way better than him! This is more of a nitpick, but still, decide if you’re gonna be faithful to the book or not! Throughout the movie, Percy is also constantly scowling and scoffing, to the point where it’s just annoying and ignores the fact that one of the most important character traits that Percy has is that he is a jokester and troublemaker who is often sarcastic and doesn’t take things very seriously. His reactions and feelings often represent his character, like most book protagonists, but the movie doesn’t communicate any of that and just made Percy a boring, average protagonist that edgy 8 year-olds write. 

The next character, Percy’s love interest, and the smartest in the group, Annabeth. Those of you who have only watched the movie may be confused because in the movie Annabeth does literally nothing. I’m not even joking, the only thing that Annabeth does is give us some exposition about Greek Mythology after we face a monster/god/goddess/place, and I guess, run away from them. This is especially weird since Annabeth is the daughter of ATHENA, “the goddess of knowledge and battle strategy”, as Annabeth says IN THE MOVIE. And then she proceeds to be defeated by Percy in battle, let Percy fight everything they encounter alone, and not contribute anything to the group. The movie also completely messes up Annabeth’s and Percy’s relationship. In the first book, they are twelve years old so they bicker and fight like most middle schoolers, but as they grow older and mature, they develop feelings for each other, even with every other woman in the world crushing on Percy. In the movie, they seem to have some sort of relationship starting, but the movie doesn’t give them any moments that really help them grow or show why they make such a good team, and even cutting parts like that that were in the book. One of my favorite moments in the book is the Tunnel Of Love scene, as it expresses their relationship the best compared to any other scene in the book, and I guess without giving too much away it may have had more action than they could afford, but with everything that happens in that scene, it felt a little too important to the story as it is also our first hint that Ares has evil intentions, as he is the one that sent them there. But of course they couldn’t do that because Ares isn’t even in the movie, even though he is essential to the plot of the book! It just shows how they changed so many things in the movie, to the point where it almost has an entirely different story. 

Now, onto the last character, Grover. I think the main problem with Grover was that they completely changed his personality. In the books, he was a shy, quiet, and anxious satyr, who was often terrified of the monsters they faced, but always tried his best to help Percy and Annabeth. When it comes to the movie, I can’t even remember anything he did. One of the most important parts of his character isn’t even mentioned until the beginning of the second movie, even though it would have been a lot better if they had introduced it earlier, as it would make the twist at the end of the second movie have more impact. Honestly, this article was extremely hard for me to write and think about due to the movie’s biggest issue: it’s so boring. Everything fun or interesting about the book was completely taken away, and now, we’re just left with a movie that barely manages to entertain or even just excite an audience in any way, that clearly didn’t put enough effort into the writing. 

In conclusion, movie adaptations are often made to a) let fans of the books see the story that they love to play out in real life without having to just imagine it, and b) bring in a new audience that would also enjoy the story but weren’t sold on reading the book. This movie does neither of those, as it doesn’t give fans the plot that they were promised and discourages people who saw the movie first from reading the book if they think that it will be just as bad. I don’t think that it would be that hard to stay faithful to the book, so I can only assume that the directors and writers either changed everything because they wanted to write their own story, or it was just plain and simple laziness. Thank you for reading this dive into how the Percy Jackson movies did a horrible job in adapting the book, even if I only got to a small fraction of everything wrong with them.