Disney+ surprised viewers and debuted the new Percy Jackson series a day early, which adapts the popular Rick Riordan children’s books that were also adapted into movies.
The series has already been under the microscope due to race-swapping characters, with fears – similar to what Disney has done with previous IPs including Star Wars, Marvel, and now Doctor Who – of going woke.
What that means is oftentimes the inclusion of diversity comes at the expense of the story, the original content, the creator, and the fans. Often times diversity is used to “send a message” and at the same time, mock the source material and slap the fans in the face. That’s woke.
The good news is that the first two episodes of Disney’s Percy Jackson aren’t woke but there are some changes that amp up the girl power.
To be fair, I haven’t read the books and barely remember the movies. I believe the books do contain strong female characters, so that’s fine, and the show doesn’t use any of the female characters to shit on the male characters, which Disney has been doing for the past few years in its content.
I believe the biggest changes from the books to the Disney+ series are how the mother is handled, Sally Jackson, step-dad Gabe, and the god, Dionysus.
The mom Sally Jackson
My woke radar was going off while watching particularly in the scene at the museum when Percy has that flashback when he learns the reason behind his name. Percy and his mom are looking at a statue of Perseus holding the head of Medusa.
Percy asks her if she named him after Perseus because Perseus is a hero. The mom questions the young Percy, “What makes you think he was a hero?” Percy answers, “Because he kills monsters.” She replies, “What makes you think that she was a monster?” He’s like Mom, hello, and she replies, “Not everyone who looks like a hero is a hero, and not everyone who looks like a monster is a monster.”
She explains to Percy the reason he named her after Perseus is that when Perseus was a little boy “he and his mother were placed in a wooden chest and cast out into the sea by a very angry king.” Sally explains to her son that Perseus’s mother would whisper in his ear, “Hold fast, Perseus. Brave the storm that was made to break us for we are unbreakable as long as we have each other.” Sally adds that against all odds Perseus had a happy ending and that’s what she wants for Percy.
Now that’s a really cool scene (it was hilarious when the girl made fun of him about his mommy) and I believe includes a lot of foreshadowing but as I watched the two episodes, I couldn’t help but think that the mother seemed power-up. Again, it’s woke Disney we are talking about here who is known for destroying content, so don’t blame me. Also, let’s be honest, Medusa has snakes coming out of her frickin’ hair (insert crying laughing emoji).
So from there, Sally is featured in the episode in scenes involving Gabe (see below), the car chase scene, and the battle with the Minotaur.
Upon investigating the books, during the car chase scene, Hades sends the Minotaur, and Zeus fires off a lightning bolt that hits the car. In the Disney+ series, there is no lightning bolt that hits the car, it’s the mom’s driving that takes out the Minotaur and gets them safely to the camp. Upon arriving at the camp, Sally battles the Minotaur. Again, nothing woke about it, but they rewrote stuff to make the mom look a lot better than in the books, I believe, which leads me to Gabe.
Now my understanding is that the Disney+ series takes a MASSIVE change in direction with Gabe and completely tones down the character. In the Disney+ show, yeah he’s a dick, but he seems to have some sort of decent relationship with the mom, as, apparently, they enjoy watching sports together. Okay cool.
However, in the books, Gabe is a COMPLETE asshole who abuses the mom. They completely removed that in the Disney+ series, at least in the first two episodes. The Disney+ series definitely makes the mother the strongest character in the two episodes. Obviously, they didn’t want the mom to come across as a “victim” in the new show on Disney+.
I also assume Gabe being a complete asshole plays out in the books and probably has something to do with what happens to Percy during his journey, his relationship with his mom, and others, as well as foreshadows things. Readers will likely be able to spot the big differences; however, non-readers probably won’t miss a beat, which of course, is what Disney is counting on.
Dionysus, aka Mr. D, also appears to have been toned down and changed to make him less of a dick (hence the “D” in “Mr. D”).
I’m not sure why that is, but I think they used Dionysus to get from “Point A to Point B” a lot quicker and get the series moving. In the books, Mr. D is a big dick to Percy, I believe, which they did hint at a little in the episodes, but again, they moved on rather quickly.
Some other observations:
The strongest demi-gods are race-swapped female characters played by POC actors. That said, Clarisse is a badass and Percy does best her in a fight at the end of Episode 2, so again, it’s not like she’s pulling a Rey and making Percy look bad. Annabeth, I’m on the fence about; she didn’t really have a big role.
I like Walker Scobell as Percy a lot. He does that snarky, pessimistic, picked-on underdog really well. I do wish they had some sort of scene where he broke down over his mother’s death. He just witnessed his mother getting murdered by a frickin’ Minotaur and doesn’t seem phased! Huh?! He’s excited to be at camp! LOL. The directors REALLY needed to play up both his anger and sadness A LOT MORE.
The rest of the cast is also pretty good: No problems with Grover, or Chiron, and Luke is perfectly cast, too.
The CGI? I can’t complain about it. Again, this is Disney+ we are talking about. I’m used to the gods-awful (couldn’t resist) Marvel shows which have awful special effects, so there is no way I am going to complain about Percy Jackson. I didn’t mind the CGI, to be honest.
Overall, I feel the first two episodes of Percy Jackson are pretty good and warrant a continuation of watching the rest of the series. I’m a sucker for the Greek gods, stuff (grew up with Clash of the Titans).