Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief Movie – An Opinion Rant


Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Crystal Tung and Charlotte Brown

Warning: The Following contains spoilers for both The Lightning Thief movie and book, and minor spoilers for The Sea of Monsters

The famous young adult novel series Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a 5 part series starring Percy Jackson, a 12 year old boy and his adventures as the son of the Greek god Posiden, and his best friends Grover Underwood and Annabeth Chase. While it may not seem like much, it does a wonderful job of merging ancient Greek mythology with modern times and creating interesting new concepts along the way. But the movies, which had fans at the edge of their seats in anticipation of seeing their favorite characters on the big screen, was royally disappointing. The sets of characters are completely different, the plot was entirely changed, and it’s as if the creators had not even touched the books. But, you didn’t even have to read the books to hate the movies, some of the general plot points didn’t make much sense, and the characters were very bland. Needless to say, it was, and is, still hated a lot.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief: The Movie


There are so many differences between the book and the movie, that it’s almost as if they are telling two completely different stories! For starters, our main character: Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, modern Greek hero, and Supreme Lord of the Bathroom. In the books, he is a 12 year old boy with messy black hair, with a sarcastic, sassy but incredibly kind personality. In the movies however, he is a 16 year old boy, with a brown buzz-cut and a sort of rude but still underlying kind personality. Now, let’s look at our favorite blonde haired girl Annabeth Chase. In the books, she is a strong, independent, and wise girl with curly blonde hair and grey eyes representing her mom Athena, goddess of wisdom. In the movies, she has straight brown hair which had to be dyed from the actress’s original hair color: BLONDE. The actress has blue eyes and while she keeps her independent personality, her wisdom isn’t shown as much and she becomes useless, only saying how smart she is and not doing anything that lives up to that. Not to mention they eliminated her special ability, her magic Yankees cap that can turn her invisible. This is one reason why she becomes useless in the movies. They also chose not to include the very important bits of her background, specifically her tragic past with her family. That brings us to our next character, Grover the Satyr. In the original story, he is a scrawny, brown haired, freckly, pale skinned, anxious and a typical shy timid person (or satyr) with goat legs most of the time disguised as human legs, and little horns mostly hidden by a beanie. Now in the movies, they change him to darker skinned, which is totally ok, though thankfully, kept him a Satyr. The biggest upset though, is how they changed his character. He went from a shy, adorable, big hearted satyr to a full on typical ladies man; outgoing, wild, and confident. He was basically dumbed down to a comic relief, with small roles as the story goes on. His motivation in the books was to get what they call a “searcher’s license” and find Pan, god of the wild, and also to avenge his fallen friend Thalia. However, in the first movie Pan nor Thalia was mentioned, and Grover just wanted to go on the quest to get his horns, which has no correlation with any myth nor anything in the book.
For better or worse, they did not include many important characters. On the bright side, they didn’t get completely wrecked, but it’s sad to see them not there. One example is Clarisse, a traditional bully turned kind-of-friend. Her character was incredibly important in introducing Percy to being a demigod, and crowning him the Supreme Lord of the Bathroom. Not only that, but her character arc as the books go on is really interesting, and important to later books. Thankfully, she is introduced in the second movie, but her character is far from perfect (and I mean far.)
Now, while you might think gods would be very hard to mess up, because there are hundreds of textbooks surrounding them and their personalities, you are deeply underestimating 20th century fox. First off, Zeus and Poseidon are characterized very differently in the books, Poseidon is similar to the ocean (who would’ve guessed huh?) laid back, calm, but also full of rage, and angry like a stormy sea, while Zeus was like the skies (again, out of nowhere, I know) stone hard, regal, over confident, and very angry. Now in the movies they take away just about everything interesting about both of them, and make them basically the same person, stone faced, rude, angry, ect. except for the fact that Poseidon cares about Percy. With Hades, he seems to have the same problem through Greek related media. He is always seen as the bad guy. In traditional Greek myths, Hades was very relaxed, kind, and honestly one of the best husbands out of all of the gods, even though he is not perfect. Since he is god of the dead though, he gets a bad wrap. This is even played off in the book, with everyone thinking he is the main villain, though in the end, the villain turns out to be Ares. Although, for some reason the writers played Hades off as the bad guy, eliminating a lot of what made the plot interesting in the books.

Major Plot Points

There are many plot points missing in the movies. One of the biggest ones was that the world was supposed to end when Percy turned 16. In the movies, however, Percy is 17, which defeats the whole purpose of the Great Prophecy. They also changed the whole point of the quest. In the books, Percy goes on this quest mainly to save his mom and partly to prove to Zues that he didn’t steal the lightning bolt, while in the movies, he goes on the quest WITH THE HELP OF LUKE – THE BAD GUY. Luke gives them exactly what they need to succeed (a map that tells you where the pearls are – which defeats the whole purpose of the original quest) In the book however, Persephone is the person who gives the pearls to Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. On this note, Sally (Percy’s mom) is supposed to stay in the underworld, not Grover. In addition, the writer’s description of the underworld was so wrong. It is supposed to be the place where everyone goes when they die. It is definitely NOT hell. They made the underworld seem like Tarturas. The writer’s depictions of Annabeth, Luke, Hades and Persphone were also wrong.
The writers also made Hades the “bad guy” even though it is really supposed to be Ares. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover were supposed to go to the St. Louis Gateway Arch and battle Ares. Percy was supposed to fall off the Arch. Instead, they go to the Parthenon in Nashville (a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens) to retrieve a pearl. That was just one of the many scenes that were from the book, but writers deleted. A few other scenes deleted were Percy accidentally splashing Clarrise’s face with toilet water, Ares convincing Percy and Annabeth to go into the Tunnel of Love, the hellhound attack, the scorpion attack, and Percy’s claiming. Finally, the writers took out Camp half blood hill and the Camp Half Blood clay bead necklaces. That may seem small but are huge parts of the story and setting, visualizing this unique landscape for the reader. They also left out the Oracle of Delphi, and the prophecy that motivated almost all of the events after, setting the story in motion.

An Outsider’s Perspective

Most of the negative aspects that have been pointed out so far seem to be just related to the inaccuracies related to the books, but you don’t have to read the books to hate the movies. One person wrote “I would rather play poker with Gabe himself than watch this movie. I would go to Tartarus for 24 hrs. I would be Hades’s personal assistant. Because they really messed up this movie.” Another person wrote, “ WARNING: IF YOU WATCH THIS MOVIE YOU WILL BE PERMANENTLY SCARRED FOR LIFE” Another wrote “I am very DAM disappointed…..” You get the idea. Everyone hates the movies. But that’s not all.
You find out in the movie that LUKE IS THE BAD GUY, yet at the same time, he helps Percy, Annabeth, and Grover get exactly what they needed to succeed. In addition, the characters were kind of bland. They had no character growth and development and stayed the same – believed in the same thing – almost the whole movie. The only wisdom Percy got was that he was a demigod.
In conclusion, the Percy Jackson movies destroyed the hope every Percy Jackson fan had for an adaption of the beloved series. But thankfully, we do have hope. There was a musical originally created in 2014, but went on broadway in 2019 titled, “The Lightning Thief Musical” and it is a stunning adaptation of the first book with many hits along the way. But if musicals aren’t your thing, there will be an upcoming series on disney plus, adapting all 5 books of the series, and while we don’t have a date yet, it should be coming around 2022, maybe later.