The Percy Jackson film casting set the attempted franchise up for failure

Thy Dang '25, Staff Writer

Image from Disney+

A flurry of excitement and anticipation is building as information about the new and forthcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians Disney+ show and Rick Riordan’s sixth Percy Jackson book, come to light. It has been more than a decade since the publication of The Blood of Olympus. Now is the time to take a look back at the 2010 Percy Jackson and the Olympians (PJO) films and discuss how they were a complete disaster and a disgrace to the original book series. The casting decisions for the Percy Jackson movies had a domino effect, dooming the entire film franchise. 


There will always be adjustments to the plot of the novel for the sake of pacing and duration of the film whenever a book is adapted into a movie. In the case of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series, the casting decisions resulted in far more issues than they resolved. It required multiple rewrites of the Riordan universe and lore.


One major issue was age. Rick Riordan criticized and shared his frustrations with the previous film adaptation attempts: “I understand that you want to appeal to teens because they are a powerful demographic, and conventional wisdom says that teens will not see movies about kids younger than themselves. Harry Potter proved this wrong” (wottaread). In a fictional universe where age holds a lot of importance, they aged the characters up. Percy Jackson is twelve in the novel, which is significant for various reasons, but one main truth that all demigods follow is that as you get older, your demigod scent is stronger to monsters. It explains why so many demigods have short lifespans and don’t make it to adulthood, hardly ever making it to late teenhood. A twelve-year-old Percy Jackson has a demigod scent that’s way too strong to be hidden anymore. This is the catalyst for him finding out he’s a demigod. So, opening the first movie with a sixteen-year-old Percy Jackson already requires rewriting demigod lore since they stress how difficult it is for them to make it to that age. 


On top of that, they had to rewrite The Great Prophecy. Around WWll, The Great Prophecy established that when a certain demigod turns sixteen, he or she will determine the rise or fall of Olympus. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians books span five years, and through those years, Percy gets to meet other demigods that shouldn’t exist, who are all under the age of sixteen. All of a sudden, multiple suggestions are given regarding who the prophecy is actually about. This stresses this deadline hanging over their heads. In the movies, they had to change the prophecy age to twenty. 


Another reason why the casting decisions resulted in the failure of the attempted franchise was the lack of casting and characters. According to CBR, “An important supporting character from The Lightning Thief who ended up being removed from its film adaptation is Clarisse La Rue, the daughter of Ares.” The first novel establishes Clarisse as a disciplined camper at Camp Half-Blood. She and Percy have a rivalry throughout the first four books, but eventually, Clarrise becomes one of Percy’s closest allies. As a result of Clarrise not being present in the first movie, a number of character traits were then passed down to Annabeth, who is nothing like Clarrise, which completely ruined Annabeth’s character altogether. Moreover, there was a lack of monsters in the movie. 


In the books, one of the main reasons Percy and the other demigods have to travel to Camp Half-Blood is so they may be safe from all the monsters pursuing them. Percy and his friends face a variety of mythological creatures over the first two books, often coming close to dying. There are a lot fewer monster encounters in the movies, which makes it seem like the characters aren’t in danger.


The PJO film casting resulted in a domino effect that caused the starting franchise to fail. However, some parts of the movie weren’t all bad. The castings of well-known actors like Uma Thurman as Medusa and Pierce Brosnan as Chiron were a success, though it does not compensate for all the other flaws. 


Even though it is far too late to renew the film and fix all the issues, if the film were to be renewed, one potential solution to them would be to give Rick Riordan direct input and involvement in the movie. Another would be to genuinely cast children in the part rather than seventeen-year-olds. 


The Percy Jackson movies from 2010 were clearly not among the best productions. If these issues had been prevented or fixed, the movie would have been such a tremendous hit. Though a possible chance of retribution exists with the upcoming Percy Jackson Disney+ show.