Now that Disney owns Fox, the film rights to Percy Jackson are back home where they belong, and fans are clamoring for Walt Disney Studios to give the demigod and his friends the live-action adaptation we deserve.
With the call for diversity as high as its ever been, the time has come to give Rick Riordan’s best-selling Heroes of Olympus series a big-screen adaptation.
Following the immensely popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – the first two books of which (The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters) were made into paltry adaptations by Fox – Heroes of Olympus introduced a whole new world of demigods who are the children of the Roman incarnations of the Greek pantheon.
This five-book series chronicles the events of the prophecy made at the end of The Last Olympian, the final PJO book, which predicted that seven demigods would unite to protect the world from a new enemy. Percy, Annabeth, and others from Camp Half-Blood join forces with new characters from the newly-discovered Camp Jupiter in order to stop the terrifying Earth goddess, Gaia.
The Percy Jackson series are books that are screaming for a movie adaptation, which Fox delivered in 2010…sort of. Unfortunately, The Lightning Thief failed to capture the magic of the book as it aged up the characters, altered some characters’ personalities, changed some important plot points, neglected to mention the prophecy (which was kind of the entire point of the series), and revealed key information in the trailer, among other issues.
As a movie, it was passable, if problematic. As an adaptation, it was downright insulting, especially since it fell victim to the old Hollywood trope of looking at other religions (in this case Greek mythology) with a Christian gaze. Most fans don’t acknowledge the movie – I’ve never even seen the sequel – and for a nearly a decade have been waiting for it to be done properly.
Has the time come for that to happen?
With the Disney-Fox merger, Disney owns all of Fox’s properties – and that includes the film rights to Percy Jackson (the books are published by Disney Publishing). And with Disney launching its own streaming service in just a few short months – not to mention with its sudden, intense desire to relaunch all of its classic films – the media behemoth has ample opportunity to put forth a new Percy Jackson adaptation out into the world. I guarantee you that fans want it.
No doubt a few of us were hoping there would be some news out of D23 this weekend, but so far, there has been no word.
But rather than start at the beginning, I really think that, should Disney decide to reboot the franchise, they should choose instead to adapt the Heroes of Olympus series. Why? Because Heroes of Olympus is a much more nuanced and diverse universe than the PJO books.
Rick Riordan is constantly adapting to his audience and listening to their concerns (Seriously, I would go into battle for this man), and his second series is arguably better than his first. While many of the characters in the original series are white, the new characters introduced are black, Hispanic, Native American, and of Asian descent. Not to mention, Nico di Angelo – one of the characters from PJO – is revealed to be LGBTQ+.
Recent moves like the inspired casting of Halle Bailey to play Ariel in the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid are helping the studio earn points for diversity, but Disney is still one of the studios that tend to fail GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index. With half-hearted attempts like the MCU’s “first gay character,” they really need to step up in the LGBTQ+ representation department. Nico is a good way to do that.
Honestly, I think these books would work much better as a streaming series than as films, and with Disney+ launching in November, it seems like the perfect chance. Percy Jackson fans already know the issues that stem from trying to trim down a book with such a complex plot to fit the standard running-time of a film (like, say, cutting out the entire point of the series), but a show wouldn’t suffer from those problems.
Even a shorter season order of six or eight episodes would be more than enough to flesh out the complexities of the plot, and fans might be more forgiving if they were watching something on a service they already pay for.
I would not argue with any sort of return to Camp Half-Blood and the chance to meet my favorites from Camp Jupiter. A Heroes of Olympus film (or streaming!) series would put some stellar, diverse characters front and center and show them being action heroes and not just sidekicks or one-off characters. Let’s only hope that, should this ever happen, Disney does justice to its own books.
What do you think? Are you ready for a new Percy Jackson adaptation? Would you like to see Heroes of Olympus or Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Would you want films or a streaming series? Let us know!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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