Percy Jackson is one of the most popular Young Adult book series around, it has sold more than 45 million copies of in more than 30 countries. The series was even on The New York Times Best Seller list for 223 weeks. Impressive right? You’re probably wondering why you may not have heard of it or why this popular series and its successor Heroes Of Olympus haven’t gotten a movie yet. I mean Harry Potter eight, both The Hunger Games and the Divergent series had 4.
Well PJO (Percy Jackson & The Olympians) did get a movie, it got two in fact but both films met with backlash from fans and critics alike. For us fans, the movies weren’t anything like we imagine. I’m not talking about a few minor changes like Annabeth going from a blonde to a brunette. They were older, they missed key moments from The Lightning Thief. It felt like FOX was simply trying to cash in on the success of the Harry Potter books. Even Rick Riordan, the author of PJO didn’t like the movies.
Here are 4 reasons why I think PJO should be adapted for TV.
So you know how Hollywood has the tendency to age up kids? Yeah, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, one of those times was for PJO. Percy is supposed to be around 12 or 13 years old, unlike the movie where he’s 16 and played by then 19 to 20 year-old Logan Lerman. Percy’s age matters in the books, as we see him grow almost like Harry Potter, now imagine if the Philosophers Stone started with Harry as a 17-year-old instead of a 11-year-old receiving his letter from Hogwarts. That would make no sense right?
Yeah PJO is a lot like that as well, in Heroes of Olympus Percy is 17 and that’s a whole other series. For PJO to work we need to see Percy grow and to see him learn about his powers, and parentage at an age where many would simply be thinking about video games and comics.
Now if you’re thinking: ‘well Harry Potter had 8 movies and that was fine’, I hate to break it to you but I don’t think Harry Potter had 10 books within two continuing series and 5 more to come with Trials of Apollo. There’s no need to cram the books into an hour and a half. It can be done in 1 season, same goes for the rest of the books. There’s so much story to unpack and we’ve already seen how it plays out on the big screen, the small screen will give the story room to develop.
If you’ve read the books and seen the movies like I have you know exactly what I’m talking about. Annabeth is the demigod child of Athena: Goddess of Wisdom and Annabeth definitely has inherited that from her mother along with her battle strategy and smarts. However, the movie made her seem really helpless, now there’s nothing wrong with being a damsel in distress if you are one but she isn’t.
Rick wrote her in such a great and progressive way, he even broke the ‘blondes are dumb’ stereotype by making her the smartest one out of all of them. She doesn’t need to be watered down in order to have Percy shine, she’s what makes him such a great lead and changing that only makes the story another cliche YA book. I’m hoping a show readaption would fix the mistakes the movies made and make Annabeth the dynamic heroine we all love.
If you haven’t noticed this year, whitewashing seems to be running amok and Heroes Of Olympus which is the series to come out after PJO is full of POC. From Frank Zhang (Chinese), Piper Mclean (Native American), Hazel Levesque (African American), Reyna Ramírez-Arellano (Puerto Rican) and Leo Valdez (Latinx) the second series is full of POC from all walks of life and I don’t think we’d see much of these cast correctly on the big screen.
I’d personally want Netflix to create a show with Rick as they’ve had an amazing track record with shows led by POC: The Get Down, Luke Cage, Marco Polo, 3%, Narcos etc. The representation in HOO is important and if they can easily change Annabeth’s hair which is an integral part of her character I doubt they wouldn’t change the race of our heroes of colour.
Percy Jackson is a series many of us have grown up with and we want it to be given the same treatment as the other YA novels who have made it into mainstream media. With its incredible diversity, this as a show could truly be something special.
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.