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The movie is based on Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2005), the first novel in a young adult(teenage) fantasy series written by American writer Rick Riordan. The novel was adapted for the movie by American screenwriters Joe Stillman and Craig Titley. Official book site. Edit (Coming Soon)
This has been a question on the minds of many Percy Jackson fans, and has bothered quite a bit of people. After working on the first two Harry Potter movies, director Chris Columbus knew how dealing with actors of that age worked. Having 12-year-olds running around with large shields, swords, crashing cars, and working with greenscreen is not only extremely complicated but can even end in a lawsuit if the child ends up getting hurt. The film series is to be as different from Harry Potter as possible, so it is not starting off at around the same age. He also decided not to read the book. Another explanation is that using 17-year-old boys allows to create empathy within the audience of that age. Given the fact that one of the most profitable sectors of the market contains people from 17 to 23 years old, it is a good strategy for product placement (see the iPod touch, MacBook and Converse shoes in the movie, which were not included in the novel as they did not exist at the time). Another possibility is to avoid dealing with child labor laws, which would have otherwise possibly lengthened the filming time, as 12-year-old actors would have minimal hours allotted for filming. Edit (Coming Soon)
The hotel/casino they gamble in is a magical hotel/casino designed to tempt its guests into staying forever by giving them nearly everything they desire and allowing them to have fun (and also encourages them to forget about their problems). It's very unlikely that this casino would adhere to legal issues such as this. Also, the writers did not read the book, in which they are 12 and do not gamble anyway. Edit (Coming Soon)
This, again, is not answered in the film, but in the book series it's explained quite a few times. As the Greek Civilization died out, Mount Olympus moves over wherever the highest amount of culture and power is in the world. Over the centuries, it moved from Athens to Rome, from Rome to Constantinople, from there to Paris, over London for a few centuries, and now that America is the most powerful and culturally filled nation, New York being the known for it's size and culture, that is where they now reside. In other words, they move with Western Civilization. Edit (Coming Soon)
In Greek Mythology, Poseidon was having an affair with Medusa, the most beautiful of all women in Athens. Stories differ, but it's claimed that Poseidon took Medusa and they had sex in Athena's temple (others claim he raped her, which is still hugely disrespectful to do it in a temple of a Goddess). Athena, unable to punish Poseidon, punished Medusa by turning her hair into snakes, one look of which can turn people to stone. It's implied that this has caused her to go mad and become "friends" with statues, as she cannot with regular mortals. Edit (Coming Soon)
The filmmakers wanted to make the Underworld a bit more menacing to reflect the character of Hades in the film. The choice to make it more "Christian themed" was to make it just that. In Greek Mythology, the underworld has no fire, burning, or torture. All that only resides in Tarturus and the Phlegethon, or river of fire. There is also Cerberus, Hades' three headed dog and guard of the Underworld, which is excluded from the movie but present in the book. The Elysian Fields, where the good souls go as reward in the afterlife, is also excluded. In the book, this is where Hades lives in his Palace, and is described as fields with a lake, mansions around it, and just perfect paradise for anyone. Also in the book is a place called the Fields of Asphodel, where the people who wish to avoid judgment or those who did not do either good or bad in their lives go. It, like its inhabitants, is neither a bad nor really good place to go. Edit (Coming Soon)
The book and the movie are incredibly different. The characters and general plot of retrieving the lightning bolt are the same, but that is about it. Such examples of differences:
- The biggest thing: Kronos isn't in the movie, and he is the main villan in the rest of the series
- The novel starts with Percy at boarding school. He wasn't allowed to live with his mother in order to keep him safe.
- In the movie Annabeth fights with a sword most of the time, and at one point uses a bow and arrow. In the books Annabeth always uses a celestial bronze knife that was given to her by Luke.
- Annabeth and Percy are 12 in the novel.
- Medusa is killed by looking into a crystal ball (once or twice Percy's sword), not by looking on the back of an iPod.
- Hades does not want the bolt. In the novel it is suspected that Hades had a demigod steal the bolt for himself. It is revealed later on in the book that his helm of darkness was taken as well. Luke stole this along with the lightning bolt.
- There is a party on Olympus after the bolt is returned.
- The Hydra is not in this novel, neither is Nashville. In the novel they never look for the pearls, they just make their way to Los Angeles with problems along the way.
- The pearls are not a major part in the book. Percy falls from the St. Louis Arch into the Mississippi River where he meets a sea nymph who was sent by his father and gives him the pearls. He ends up in Santa Monica after using them to escape the underworld.
- They go to Aunty Em's in the novel due to an attracting aroma, not to find a pearl.
- Ares plays a major role against the trio in the novel, often trying to make their quest fail. In a scene cut from the film, much like the novel, Ares picks them up from the diner and takes them away, gives them supplies and clues on how to get where they want to go. He is tricking them, however, and Percy has to fight Ares in L.A.
- The book has the entrance to the Underworld in the fictional DOA Records building, not the Hollywood sign.
- In the book, they don't drive to Las Vegas, they hide in an 18-wheeler, where they are with abused zoo animals. It's there Percy learns he can talk to horses (Poseidon is the God of Horses).
- Percy is at camp a week before playing Capture the Flag, not a day. He is also on Annabeth's and Luke's team. Annabeth never attacks him, instead she uses him as a decoy so Clarisse (Percy's bully, who was cut from the movie) will go after him.
- Camp Half Blood in the novel has separate cabins for each god, excluding the minor gods and Hades where it was largely elaborated and has different themes base on the what the god is known for. Percy has a very large Poseidon cabin all to himself for the first book. His cabin was not built by Poseidon, and was supposed to be more bunker looking.
- Annabeth is blonde in the book.
- Luke, Annabeth, and Thalia, a daughter of Zeus (mentioned in a deleted scene), were friends from an early age, and lived on the streets and fought monsters. They eventually arrive at Camp Half Blood, where they are being chased by multiple monsters. Thalia's protector is Grover, and she decides to stay behind and fight so the rest can get to safety. She is injured to the point of likely death, and Zeus takes pity on her and transforms her into a Pine Tree that now guards the the camp and provides a "shield" from monsters. Annabeth also harbors feelings for Luke for the entire series.
- Percy and Annabeth meet in the infirmary (this was originally in the film, though cut)
- The flying shoes Luke gives Percy are cursed in the book, and Percy never uses them. Zeus hates Percy, as he is the son of Poseidon. Percy can't use them because, if he flies, Zeus can strike him down for going into his domain. He gives the shoes to Grover and, while in the underworld, the shoes try to drag him down to Tartarus, where Kronos (the main villan, who was cut from the film, is).
- There are "Iris Messages" half bloods use, where through water and mist, they offer coins to Iris, the Goddess of rainbows, and with this they can communicate with anyone they need to, and they use this several times.
- Persephone is not in the novel, as it is summer, and in mythology, she would be with Demeter, her mother.
- Camp characters, such as Clarisse, daughter of Ares, Beckendorf, son of Hephaestus, Selina Beauregard, daughter of Aphrodite, Connor and Travis Stoll, twin sons of Hermes, etc. are excluded in the film.
- Zeus never says that the gods are forbidden to see their children in the novel because the gods become too "human," but only the big three can't have children (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades), because their children are too powerful. After WW II, this pact was made, but both Zeus and Poseidon broke it.
- Luke claims in the movie he never met his father. In the book series, Hermes and Luke have only met once. Luke also never robbed Hermes's house, if he has a house it was never mentioned.
- No one knows who Percy's father is in the beginning of the novel (Annabeth suspects it is of Zeus). It's just known he is of the big three. It isn't until the river heals and strengthens Percy during capture the flag that Poseidon "claims" him, by having the figure of a trident glow over Percy's head, and everyone bows to him. This is how gods claim their children, which is excluded from the film.
- Percy often questions his motives while on the trip.
- Ms. Dodds doesn't turn into the Fury until much later into the field trip when she sees Percy push someone into a fountain by controlling the water. Percy is given the sword, which is called "Riptide," by Chiron and he uses it to Ms. Dodds. Chiron later claims none of it ever happened, and it's Percy's imagination.
- When monsters are killed, they don't slump over and die. The are stabbed, turn into dust, and go to the Underworld to reform.
- A major plot point left out, the "Mist" in the novel. In this, mortals are blinded of anything related. They see things different from demigods, for example. A fight between a half-blood and a monster could be seen as a street mugging. In the first novel's St. Louis arch scene, the fight is seen by mortals as Percy setting off a bomb. In the last book, Hermes explains it more clearly. After the large battle in The Last Olympian, he claims humans will more than likely pass it off as some kind of a solar flare. They know nothing of the mist or anything to do with the gods. Certain mortals, however, can see through it, including Percy's mother. (All mortal parents of demigods seem to be able to).
- Grover in the film says some demigods are "White-House famous". In the novel, it's explained that George Washington was a child of Athena, Roosevelt is the child of Poseidon.
- What could be seen as the biggest thing from the novel left out was the deduction of the main villain, Kronos. He only gets Luke to do his bidding for him by brainwashing him through dreams. He is responsible for everything in the novel.
- Zeus' Master Bolt is stolen (along with Hades' Helm of Darkness) by Luke on a field trip to Mt. Olympus during the Winter Solstice.
- Dionysus, the God of drama, wine, theater, entertainment, etc. is the head of Camp Half-Blood, sent there for 100 years as punishment for chasing a nymph. He hates his job and hates Percy and most demigods, and also has a few children at the camp that are his. He's known for his nickname Mr. D. He is never mentioned in the film.
- Percy is often bullied at school and at camp when he first arrives. This is first shown when Clarisse, daughter of Ares, and a few of her siblings attack Percy when Annabeth is showing him around camp. They try to dunk his head in the toliet and later when they attack him during capture-the-flag (novel).
- Percy rooms with Luke and the rest of the Hermes cabin when he first arrives. He is not claimed yet, so they cannot place him, and Hermes is the God of travelers, thieves, pranksters, and hospitality, so every demigod that goes there must room there first before being claimed.
- Percy resents his father for only claiming him and coming into his life because he needs him.
- Grover has an odd obsession with Enchiladas.
- At every meal, each demigod places the best portions of their meals into the fire as an offering to the gods before eating. The gods can't eat mortal food, but they enjoy the smell.
- There is no "battle" between Luke and Percy at the Empire State Building. In fact, Percy takes a plane home from L.A. (at risk of getting shot down by Zeus and captured for being a fugitive), and from there goes to New York and delivers the bolt to Zeus on his own. The first teaser trailer of the film shows the correct Empire State Building sequence.
- Luke admits he works for Kronos when Percy returns to Camp Half-Blood by trying to kill him with a scorpion, then he leaves. Kronos is never mentioned in the film.
- Percy is attacked by a hellhound during Capture the Flag, which is what causes him to fall back into the river and be claimed by Poseidon.
- In the book, there is an Oracle at the camp, in this case a dead girl mummified, who gives the prophecy to the ones asking. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover don't just leave camp, they are offered a quest and go on it in order to recover the bolt. Part of the Oracle's prophecy to Percy before the quest is that a friend will betray him, this makes him worry that Annabeth or Grover will turn on him, but in the end Luke turns out to be the thief. Hades is not involved at all.
- None of the children hear their Godly parent's voice in their heads. Everything they do is simply up to them.
- Poseidon claims he'll be "watching over Percy" in the movie, but in novels Poseidon mostly leaves it up to Percy to do things. He doesn't get involved much.
- The children are separated by cabins based on which God they come from. While Percy does get the Poseidon cabin, it's a building covered in sea shells (Percy describes it as a bunker-looking building), where inside it is all water themed.
- The gods aren't British in the novel. It can be assumed their accents change wherever they go to whatever they want.
- In the novel they don't drive around the country. They find other ways around, using buses, walking, getting rides, or in one case, hopping in the back of an animal-smuggling truck (there Percy learns he can talk to horses).
- Capture the Flag isn't nearly as brutal in the book. Chiron states "No killing or maiming allowed!" (to the displeasure of the Ares cabin), and while you could get injured, cut and bleed, Chiron, let alone the other campers, would not have tolerated nearly killing Percy for fun. It was Clarisse, not Annabeth, who inured him in the novel anyway.
- The entire layout of Camp Half-Blood is different. It is located in a field on Long Island, not in the middle of the forest. The strawberry fields, run mostly by Dionysus' children, are next to the camp and cover costs. The cabins are arranged in a "U" shape, and there are only cabins for the Olympian gods (excluding Hades and the minor gods), and buildings such as the Big House, Eating areas, etc. are omitted.
- Camp Half-Blood isn't all about fighting and training. There is plenty of free time and students can really train as they wish, if they want to. There are games, sports courts, etc.
- One instantly noticeable difference is that Percy's sword, Riptide, was a pen with a cap, not a "clicky-top" like in the movie. One of the most common statements in all five books is "I uncapped Riptide". It is also never mentioned that his pen is magical, no matter where Percy loses it it will always return to his pocket. This is a huge factor in the book.
A second movie in this series and based on the second book is Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013) (2013). All main actors (Percy, Annabeth, Grover and Luke) signed a three movie contract. Therefore, Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse should be filmed as well. Edit (Coming Soon)