8 Biggest Things Percy Jackson’s Movie Adaptations Got Wrong


  • The
    Percy Jackson
    movies altered the characters’ ages and story tone from the source material.
  • The movies changed Percy’s quest, removed key elements, and inaccurately portrayed characters’ motives.
  • The adaptations lost the books’ humor and simplified the gods, and were therefore less engaging and faithful.

It is no secret that the Percy Jackson movie adaptations got a lot wrong about the source material. Everyone, including Rick Riordan himself, has criticized the movies for their complete failure to understand the books and their most vital components. The Percy Jackson movie franchise only made it through two movies before buckling under the weight of its mistakes; the second movie awkwardly tries to correct some of the things from the first, to little avail.

These two movies changed so many things about the Percy Jackson story that none of the original tone or messages came through, and many of the characters were unrecognizable. The filmmakers cut some fan-favorite scenes and character traits that many were doubtlessly looking forward to seeing when they heard about the adaptation. After this failed movie franchise, Percy Jackson remained untouched for 10 years before being rebooted as the far more successful Disney+ TV show, with Percy Jackson and the Olympians season 2 now on the horizon.


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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief





Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters





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8 The Percy Jackson Movies Changed The Characters’ Ages

Percy is 12 years old in the first book, while he is 16 in the first movie.


The most obvious change that put off viewers (at least the ones that read the books) right away was how Percy and his peers were all aged up several years from how old they are at the beginning of the story in the source material. Percy is 12 years old in The Lightning Thief, which is important to the story because it all leads up to the Great Prophecy, which states that he will either save or destroy Olympus when he turns 16. The second movie tries to fix this by centering the prophecy around his 18th birthday.

Additionally, changing the characters’ ages dramatically altered the movie’s tone, hurting its ability to get through to the people for whom the story was written. The Percy Jackson books are a careful blend of lighthearted comedy and true danger, written for an audience around the same age as Percy, so they can see themselves in him and his friends. When Percy was reintroduced as a 16-year-old, much of the existing fanbase would have felt like the story was no longer for them.

Making the child characters older has worked in some adaptations, such as with The Chronicles of Narnia, which is illustrative of what the Percy Jackson filmmakers were probably hoping for. However, Narnia still had Lucy to ground the story with themes of childhood, while Percy Jackson became a movie only about teenagers. The right move would have been to accept that 12-year-olds accomplishing all that they do is a little unrealistic, but they are demigods, and them being this age is too important to the story and the fans.

7 The Percy Jackson Movies Changed The Nature Of Percy’s First Quest

Percy is not granted an official quest in the Lightning Thief movie.


In The Lightning Thief, Percy is officially chosen by the camp counselors/the gods to go on the quest to find the Master Lightning Bolt and return it to Zeus, as Percy is the primary suspect of its theft and needs to prove his innocence to prevent a war. Percy is partially motivated to accept by wanting to go to the Underworld to rescue his mother. However, the movie shows Percy receiving no quest, and leaving camp against orders to rescue Sally, with Annabeth and Grover in tow. Therefore, not only does the movie make the characters older, but the adults expect less of the demigods.

It is a lazy plot device to get Percy and the others moving when their plan should have ended in disaster.

The setting might be a lot kinder to these teenagers, but that’s not really the point of the story. Clarisse is given a quest in the second movie, but this doesn’t fix the plot holes created by changing the quest in The Lightning Thief. Percy — and Annabeth and Grover for supporting him — comes across as dangerously naive for basing his whole plan around simply explaining to Hades that he didn’t steal the Master Bolt. It is a lazy plot device to get Percy and the others moving when their plan should have ended in disaster.

6 The Percy Jackson Movies Messed Up Annabeth’s Characterization

Few of Annabeth’s core traits appear in the Percy Jackson movies.


When the Lightning Thief movie first came out, there were a lot of complaints about Annabeth not being blonde, leading to Alexandra Daddario dyeing her hair for Sea of Monsters. Leah Sava Jeffries faced a racist casting backlash when she was chosen as Annabeth for the TV show, showcasing a widespread disregard of what is really important about the character. Indeed, there is a lot more wrong with Annabeth’s characterization than her hair color in the movies, while Jeffries’ performance is much more faithful to Annabeth’s confident and intellectual personality.

The movies grant Annabeth opportunities to demonstrate her skills as a warrior, but not as a strategist or scholar. Annabeth is a huge architecture nerd and corrects all the problems in the plans Percy comes up with. However, Daddario’s Annabeth is a pretty generic action heroine. She beats Percy up in training (her strategic move of giving Percy up to the opposing team is cut) before she illogically jumps at the chance to join his “quest.” On the other hand, the TV show begins to lay the groundwork for this aspect of Annabeth’s character in season 1.

5 The Percy Jackson Movies Cut The Gateway Arch Sequence

One of the best parts of the quest for the Master Bolt isn’t included in the movie.


Percy’s quest is restructured in more ways than one in the first movie. The sequences of him, Annabeth, and Grover fighting Medusa and getting stuck in the Lotus Casino were kept, but the confrontation with Echidna and the Chimera at the St. Louis Arch was replaced by the Hydra at the Parthenon replica in Nashville. In doing this, the plot loses some amusing beats that contribute to the book’s overall tone — such as leaning into the slightly ludicrous nature of the story when Percy realizes his best option is to jump from the arch.

This also segues into Percy realizing that he will be healed by fresh water and that he can breathe underwater. In the movie, Percy realizes the former during training at camp, while some of Percy’s other more specific powers are cut. In contrast, Percy’s battle with the Hydra is too similar to many other fantasy action sequences, with a lot of fire and destruction before the heroes inevitably triumph. It demonstrates how the movies made many small changes that ultimately amounted to Percy Jackson losing what made the story unique.

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4 The Percy Jackson Movies Didn’t Give Luke Strong Motives

A new plot detail in the Lightning Thief movie completely undermines Luke’s character.


The gods are supposed to be complicated, not completely moral characters in Percy Jackson. There is ample material for this when there is a long history of the gods abusing mortals in Greek mythology, and it is what gives rise to Luke leading a rebellion of demigods with the intent of destroying Olympus. Luke’s hatred for the gods is specifically rooted in how they treat their children: Many of them are absent and never claim their half-mortal offspring, or send them on dangerous missions only for the sake of glory.

However, the Lightning Thief movie says that the gods are forbidden from contacting their demigod children. This completely undermines Luke’s villainous plot, cheapening his hatred of his father. The movies wanted to have it both ways, with Poseidon and Athena being affectionate parents that Percy and Annabeth would want to fight for, while still having Luke serve as the story’s antagonist. The hard truth is that they needed to dedicate more time to figuring out the nuances of the part of Percy Jackson, but they rushed the writing and production of what they thought would be a profitable movie.

3 The Percy Jackson Movies Cut Everything Cool From Sea Of Monsters

Blackjack, Circe, and Blackbeard do not appear in the Sea of Monsters movie.


The Lightning Thief cut one exciting aspect of the quest for the Master Bolt, but Sea of Monsters cut everything fun about the quest for the Golden Fleece. In the book, Percy and Annabeth have a run-in with Circe along the way, which leads to an interesting conversation between Annabeth and Circe about female demigods’ deeds being forgotten and the discovery that Circe had imprisoned the pirate Blackbeard (who is a son of Ares) and his crew for centuries. In a different sequence, Percy frees a pegasus named Blackjack from Luke’s ship, who becomes Percy’s hilarious and loyal steed.

Circe, Blackbeard, and Blackjack didn’t make it into the Sea of Monsters movie. The movie includes a lot of flashy visuals, like the hippocampi and Kronos himself in the final act, but none of the extremely goofy elements, like a historical pirate leading a reckless charge or a wise-cracking pegasus. The filmmakers faced tough choices about what to cut for time but chose poorly as they removed more beloved parts of the series, making the second movie even more disappointing than the first.

2 The Percy Jackson Movies’ Depiction Of The Gods Is Wrong

The gods don’t have individual personalities in the Percy Jackson movies.


A huge component of Percy Jackson’s setting is that the gods have adopted modern personas and appearances suited to the 21st century. The gods and monsters alike incorporate things like office complexes and game shows into their gimmicks; the Olympians usually appear wearing modern garments associated with whatever they are the gods of. For instance, Poseidon typically dresses like a fisherman or a surfer, wearing Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts. The gods as seen in the TV show have specialized wardrobes.

However, in the movies, only Hades and Hermes are given any individuality, and not as much as in the books or show. Most of the gods are only seen wearing Ancient Greek attire. Additionally, their personalities are static; they are all vaguely domineering and powerful and don’t have very complicated relationships with their children. One of the things that makes Percy Jackson such a textured, entertaining series is the depiction of how the gods’ different temperaments play into their relationships with each other and their demigod children, which may have massive consequences for the world.

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1 The Percy Jackson Movies Failed To Capture The Books’ Tone

The movies fail to capture the dangerous yet wacky story of Percy Jackson.


Yet the biggest overall problem, which is evident through some other mistakes, is that the Percy Jackson movies take themselves too seriously. As a result, the fandom doesn’t think of them as worthwhile at all. There is an evident desire on the part of the filmmakers to cut out things that were too crazy and make Percy Jackson an epic tale about a noble young hero’s coming of age. This is what the books are — to an extent. However, what Riordan did in the process was create a unique setting that would have the biggest impact on children.

Cutting elements like hilarious pegasi and the gods wearing beach attire hurt the Percy Jackson movies.

Cutting elements like hilarious pegasi and the gods wearing beach attire hurt the Percy Jackson movies. They became just another generic fantasy adventure struggling to replace Harry Potter. The movies convey none of the world’s humorous tone (a few funny comments are not enough), which is supposed to balance out the danger of fighting mythological monsters. They made what they thought would be more marketable movies, which only resulted in greater losses and the franchise eventually being rebooted.

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    Director Chris Columbus Release Date February 12, 2010 Studio(s) Fox 2000 Pictures , Dune Entertainment , 1492 Pictures , Sunswept Entertainment Writers Craig Titley Cast logan lerman , Brandon T. Jackson , Alexandra Daddario , Sean Bean , Pierce Brosnan , Steve Coogan , Rosario Dawson , Catherine Keener , Kevin McKidd , Joe Pantoliano , Uma Thurman Runtime 119 Minutes Expand

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    Director Thor Freudenthal Release Date August 7, 2013 Studio(s) Fox 2000 Pictures , Sunswept Entertainment , 1492 Pictures , TSG Entertainment Writers Marc Guggenheim Cast logan lerman , Brandon T. Jackson , Alexandra Daddario , Douglas Smith , Leven Rambin Runtime 106 Minutes Expand

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