Percy Jackson Differences (& Similarities)

By Collin McPherson

Warning: Spoiler Alert!

The Percy Jackson book series has spun into different adaptations which you may have seen and or read. The movie, which came out in 2010, was the first of the three big adaptations. Next, is the musical adaptation which I will not be talking about, as it had a very limited run on Broadway and isn’t very well known. Then finally you have the Disney+ series. The series just came to the end of its first season meaning we have the full story to compare. This article will contain spoilers and also not all changes of the adaptations because there are just too many.  

The Percy Jackson movie is often regarded as one of the worst book to movie adaptations to ever hit the big screen. The author of the original book series has voiced his dislike for the series publicly many times. The first big change is the aging up of the main characters. Percy and Annabeth are aged up to 16 in the movies from 12 years old in the book and Grover from 28 to 32 years old. Percy’s father also telepathically communicates with Percy. This kind of ruins Percy having to figure stuff out on his own and also creates a plot hole later on. They also cut the characters Clarisse, Dionysus, Ares and more. The first two listed aren’t big characters in the first book but still play important roles later in the series. But Ares is one of the antagonists in the book who’s working for Kronos. The personalities of many of the characters are changed. Annabeth becomes very battle focused almost like they merged her book personality with that of Clarisses. Grover becomes a “ladies” man which is a big divergence from his shy, backwards book self. There are also minor personality changes that I won’t mention. In the book Hades is a red herring villain since he is the god of the dead he is often stereotyped to be evil. The book uses this to its advantage to craft the perfect red herring character. In the movie this is absent as Hades is truly evil which plays into the stereotype. He is the one who causes Percy to sneak out of camp to save his mother. Instead of being sent on a quest to find the stolen lightning bolt.

The series is much closer to the source material albeit it is a little poorly paced, doesn’t have much action instead trading it out for more bonding between characters, and tells way much more than it should. The series is much closer to the books and the characters remain mostly the same personality wise and no major characters are cut. Though Grover is aged down from 28 to 24 for this adaptation. One thing about this series is right off the bat you can tell it’s poorly paced as it goes way too fast. The characters are also in a way “all knowing” which destroys a lot of tension and suspense. As they immediately recognize the threat before even seeing them. This does weigh down the series because the characters seem to make stupid decisions because the answer is immediately pointed out to them but the plot still needs a way to go further. 

The fight with Medusa is changed in both the movie and series. Though what changes does differ between the two adaptations. They run Medusa over with a car before cutting her head off in the movie. The series has Percy use the reflection in his sword to see Medusa and with the help of Annabeth’s invisibility cap they easily slice the gorgon’s head off. The movie then diverges greatly upon the group leaving Aunty Em’s Garden Gnome Emporium. Having the teens head to the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee instead of The Gateway Arch, which is located in St. Louis, Missouri. The monster in the movie is changed into five janitor’s who transform into a hydra attacking the teens at the Parthenon. The series stays true to the book and the kids head to the Gateway Arch. Now the series has the monster appear on the train instead of inside the arch. This change contributes to what I said earlier, that being, the characters seem to make stupid decisions because the answer is immediately pointed out to them but the plot still needs a way to go further. Now the movie cut the character of Ares so the waterland scene is absent. But the series still has it. Though they did change the trap with-in the park. After this they head to the Lotus Hotel and Casino. This is where both the movie and series diverge again. The movie uses lotus flowers which have to be consumed to take effect while the book and series just have it in the air. Grover, in the series, loses his memory and the group also runs past the deadline. Crusty’s Waterbed Palace is cut in the movie but remains in the series with only a few changes. This being the series’ love to have the characters immediately know it’s a trap. They devise a plan to trick Procrustes into his own bed before leaving him trapped and making their way to Hades. The entrance to Hades is again different for the adaptations. The series has it in Crusty’s Waterbed Palace while it is in the Hollywood sign. Once emerging from Hades the series goes into a fight with Ares this fight is replaced with Luke in the movie Ares is absent in the film. Before the movie protagonists leave they get into a small fight with Hades, who is evil in this version. Then you have the ending which while featuring a few changes none are notabile enough to mention. 

The series and movie do not have a lot in common because the movie took a lot of creative liberties so there aren’t many changes made to the story that the book doesn’t have but the adaptations due. Though notability the Alecto bus fight is absent in both the movie and series. Also while a quiet out there change both the movie and series have the main 3 hijack a car to drive away from the Lotus Hotel and Casino. Though in the movie it’s a display car there to be won. But the series has it be Hermes’ car. Those are some of the big differences, and similarities, between the first Percy Jackson novel and two of its adaptations.

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