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Percy Jackson's Disney+ reboot will have its chance to shine for fans after terrible movies

The fan-favorite status of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" is finally being utilized to create a new TV series after its unsuccessful movie moment.  – Photo by Polygon / Twitter

"Percy Jackson & the Olympians" is getting a makeover. Recently, Walker Scobell, the star of "The Adam Project," was announced to be playing the role of Percy Jackson in the new Disney+ series.

With Rick Riordan’s heavy hand in this new TV adaptation, what can fans come to expect — what does the new cast have to fix in the wake of the less-than-ideal adaptation before it?

When I was younger, I had a few book series that defined my entire “nerd girl” persona, and this series was one of them. I own the entire "The Heroes of Olympus" set in hardcover, the entire series in a box set and a few paperback books of the spinoff series.

Percy's fun, witty dialogue, compelling characters and vibrant community were what kept me engrossed in an already engaging premise.

The very first movie adaptation of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" came out on Feb. 12, 2010. As soon as I was able, I rented it from the library on DVD. I was excited, a movie adaptation of one of my favorite books!

As the title screen was displayed, my excitement only grew. How would everything come together to pay homage to a series that had captured so many young minds?

But as the movie trudged along, I found myself more and more disappointed. The characters were aged up, their personalities dampened by an exhausting script and the plot paid little attention to the story Riordan had lovingly crafted. I finished the movie sorely let down but remained hopeful for the sequel.

The sequel, "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," came out three years later. Once again, I eagerly awaited the day I could rent it from the library and sat down, now three years older, to watch it.

Once again, I was disappointed. The visuals were gorgeous, and Logan Lerman continued to perform well in his role as Percy, but something was off about the movie yet again. So what went wrong?

The cast of actors was not untalented by any stretch of the imagination — in my opinion, if it had not been for the talents of the cast, the movie would have completely collapsed. A lot of effort was clearly put into CGI (for early 2010s standards, of course) and the overall visuals of the movie. Ultimately, the glaringly obvious character flaws and plot holes were what ruined the series.

Luke Castellan’s character in the second movie was completely destroyed. In the book, Percy is 12, and Luke is 15. The movie aged them up, completely shifting the power dynamic.

In the movie, Luke is defeated by Percy before he makes it to Olympus, which completely subverts Luke’s role as a villain (in the book, Percy and Luke battle it out at the end of the second book, where Percy barely makes it out alive if not for some centaurs that save him).

In addition, the trio’s characters (Annabeth Chase, Grover Underwood and Percy) are modified. In the books, Annabeth is wicked smart, but in the movies, she comes across as more arrogant.

Grover’s confidence is much more pronounced in the movie, but in the books, his confidence comes gradually, making for a much more compelling character arc.

Percy, similarly to the new live-action "Mulan," is given an immediate grasp of his power with minimal training. In the series, he has to train, and each book is an exploration of his growth. This “chosen one” narrative makes his character much less special.

While I could go on and on about the many flaws with the series, I would much rather focus on the positives that the new show will bring. For one, Riordan will have much more involvement in the show.

Reportedly, Riordan met with the director James Bobin to evaluate the child actors for the series as well as the production designer, Dan Hannah, in order to assess the locations and sets that will bring the background to life.

Riordan also revealed that he would be on the set in Vancouver at Mammoth Studios. Such involvement from the author can only result in the adaptation being more true to its origin.

While only one actor has been announced so far, it appears that the cast will not be aged up. Children playing children will only serve to strengthen the appeal of the series. Personally, as I read the books, one of the aspects I found most appealing was how I could see myself in the characters.

As a young kid, for Riordan to pin down my insecurities in several characters was incredible, and taking that away from a newer generation would be unthinkable.

The newer campers at Camp Half-Blood have a mighty legacy to follow. "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" still remains on The New York Times’ Children’s Series List, with a fandom comparable to that of the "Harry Potter" franchise.

The series also is one of the first representations of ADHD and dyslexia in children, and showing characters like these to children who may exhibit aspects of these learning disorders or who are diagnosed with them may help them find some solace and comfort, knowing they are not invalid due to something out of their control.

A date has not been set for the new series, as it's still in the pre-production phase. Yet plenty of anticipation has already built. My 12-year-old self as well as my current 20-year-old one are both excited to see how Disney will revamp this timeless book. The new Olympians have quite a lot to live up to.


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