5 things Disney+’s Percy Jackson series needs to get right to succeed

GLENDALE, CA - JULY 31: Actor Logan Lerman arrives at the premiere of 'Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters' at The Americana at Brand on July 31, 2013 in Glendale, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, CA - JULY 31: Actor Logan Lerman arrives at the premiere of 'Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters' at The Americana at Brand on July 31, 2013 in Glendale, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images) /

A Percy Jackson adaptation coming to Disney+ has been welcome news for fans, but there are a few things the show will need to get right in order to succeed.

Rick Riordan all but broke the bookish side of the internet after announcing that his beloved children’s series would be getting a television adaptation on Disney+. This isn’t the first time the Percy Jackson books have been brought to the screen, but it’s the first time there’s been potential to see the full series play out. (Neither of the films that came out previously did all that well at the box office, so there was never much hope that all five books would be brought to life.)

With a television series on the horizon, however, Disney+ can set things right and give Percy Jackson fans the adaptation they deserve. Of course, as with any book-based TV show, there are certain aspects of the story the showrunners will need to get right in order to call the series a success. With Riordan himself promising to be heavily involved in the series’ creation, it seems like this new rendition of Percy’s story could actually turn out well.

The first season of the show will adapt The Lightning Thief, with those episodes hopefully leading into the four books that follow. The television format will give ample time to flesh out all the characters and storylines that just wouldn’t get enough attention from a movie. Let’s just hope the writers utilize that time.

With a reputable studio behind the scenes and the author himself working to ensure the adaptation is what fans are expecting, it’s probably okay to be a little optimistic about the Percy Jackson series. But what are the things the show will absolutely need to get right in order to make fans happy?

The Characters’ Ages

Following the announcement of the adaptation, fans of the Percy Jackson books expressed their desire to see relatively unknown actors and actresses take up the lead roles in the Disney+ series. In large part, this is because Percy and his friends are only 12 when they begin their journey, and many of us would like to see them portrayed that way.

While adaptations have a tendency to “age up” their characters — whether by actually making them older or simply by casting older actors and actresses — that isn’t likely to work for Riordan’s book series. Part of Percy Jackson‘s charm is that it’s geared toward children and written about children — and Percy and his friends certainly act their age, so making them older just wouldn’t line up with their actions.

The Diversity

While we’re on the subject of getting the characters right, it’s also crucial that the Disney+ adaptation captures the diversity of Riordan’s cast. The author’s books are so beloved because almost everyone can see themselves within their pages, and changing that would be a surefire way to lose fan interest.

With Riordan involved, there’s probably little chance of the series whitewashing any of its POC characters, but, sadly, that’s still something that warrants concern until casting is officially announced. Equally as worrisome is how Disney+ will handle the LGBTQ+ representation in the books, particularly after its issues with Love, Victor and the Lizzie McGuire reboot. Hopefully the series won’t erase any character’s sexuality to fit the platform it’s streaming on.

These are the sorts of things that could make or break the adaptation, and leave longtime fans feeling bitter if they’re handled poorly.

The Tone

The best thing about the Percy Jackson books is that, even in their darkest moments, the tone remains light and fun. Riordan is a master at juggling serious topics with humor and hope, and the series will need to capture that balance in order to properly replicate the story.

Given that the books accomplish this primarily by telling the story through Percy’s narration, the series may need to follow suit. It’ll be a challenge to accomplish a narrator without things feeling too corny or campy, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s probably Disney.

The Magic

Percy Jackson is entirely based on Greek mythology, so it probably goes without saying that the Disney+ series needs to do a good job of weaving myths and magic into its episodes. But even if that’s a no-brainer, it could be done poorly if the creators aren’t given the proper tools to bring the magic of Percy’s world to life — namely, decent special effects.

Given that this is being made for Disney+, it’s probably not a concern. But we’d hate to see the gods, the magic, and even the mythical creatures brought to life with terrible CGI. Fingers crossed that doesn’t come to pass.

The Subject Matter

One trap a lot of book-to-screen adaptations fall into is trying too hard to make the film or television series its own entity. Fans of those books are here to see the story they love brought to life, and it can be a disappointment to watch as the showrunners or filmmakers alter the plot completely — sometimes with detrimental consequences.

If Disney+ wants to get Percy’s story right, they need to stick to the tale told in Riordan’s books, only making necessary changes — or ones they’re absolutely certain will better the story overall. They finally have a chance to get this story right onscreen, and it’ll be a shame if they throw away that opportunity.

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What are you most looking forward to about Disney+’s adaptation of Percy Jackson? What’s something you’re concerned about the show getting right? Sound off in the comments below.