During this year's New York Comic Con, the creators of the highly anticipated Percy Jackson show on Disney Plus provided fans of the book series with a reassuring message. Unlike the notorious 2011 movie adaptation, author Rick Riordan and his wife Becky were extensively involved in the production of the show right from its inception.
"From the start, this has been about partnership, collaboration, and building a relationship to ensure that everyone involved in the show understands that this is a family endeavor," stated John Steinberg, the executive producer and showrunner. "This story originated from a deeply personal space. No matter how expansive, intricate, or complex it becomes, its essence will always lie in its heartfelt origins."
"John and I had the privilege of being in a bubble with Rick and Becky," expressed Dan Shotz, an executive producer. "We had the opportunity to create this together with Rick. He was involved in every step of the process. He joined us in the writer's room, participated in casting, and was present on set. Becky and Rick even relocated to Vancouver for most of the season. It was truly delightful, and it made a tremendous impact."
Every panelist present at the event shared their enthusiasm for meticulously capturing the intricate details of the show. Production designer Dan Hannah emphasized the objective of creating an authentic and thrilling world for Camp Half-Blood. Director James Bobin chimed in, saying, "It was a fun place to hang out." However, the most crucial aspect was ensuring the authenticity of the setting for the show's cast.
"We were able to bring it together in a way that you could actually go and experience it. This was particularly crucial for our actors, as it was essential to immerse them in the world," explained Hannah.
Meanwhile, in their endeavor to achieve the perfect shade of iconic Camp Half-Blood orange, costume designer Trish Monoghan reveals that the wardrobe department experimented with 20 different hues of orange during the pre-production phase.
"We had to find a shirt that would be suitable for various settings: outdoors in sunlight, under a gray sky, in a forest, and for interior shots," she explained. "Ultimately, we ended up dyeing over 350 T-shirts, using a process similar to a witch's cauldron... we could only fit 19 T-shirts at a time."
Following the dyeing process in batches of 19, the shirts underwent screen printing to apply the logo, followed by another round of washing. Monaghan and her team were deeply dedicated to ensuring accuracy in every small detail. They went the extra mile by customizing the shirts based on the camper's belonging to different cabins. For example, the Ares campers had slightly worn-out T-shirts, reflecting their involvement in brawls. On the other hand, the Hephaestus children had shirts with ripped sleeves and dirtier fabric, representing their work in the forge.
The panel attendees were also delighted with three different clips from the show, with the last one introduced by Riordan personally. The first clip showcased the initial seven minutes of the show, effectively bringing the first part of the book to life, complete with Percy's unique narration. As Walker Scolbell narrates, flashbacks of a young Percy and the mythological creatures he encountered during his upbringing are shown, including a pegasus perched on the roof of a building in New York. Subsequently, Percy meets Grover, portrayed by Aryan Simhardi, and the two form a connection while playing a card game featuring mythological creatures.
In the present day, Percy and his classmates find themselves at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a field trip, guided by their teacher, Mr. C (played by Glynn Turman). While they are there, Mr. C assigns them a task. During this scene, there is a flashback where Percy gazes up at a statue of Perseus and recalls his mother (portrayed by Virginia Kull) sharing the story of the Greek hero with him. The scene then returns to the present day, where Nancy, one of Percy's frequent school bullies, taunts him. After she breaks the tip of his pencil, Percy encounters the imposing Mrs. Dowd, who scolds him. Mr. C offers Percy a pen, which happens to be the very pen that will later transform into his trusty sword, Riptide. The scene shifts to Grover and Percy having lunch outside the museum, discussing the best way to handle bullies. When Nancy throws a piece of cheese at Grover, Percy stands up and approaches her. Remarkably, even before he takes any action, Nancy falls backward into a fountain.
The second scene featured a gripping car chase. Grover occupies the backseat and attempts to explain to Percy about the numerous monsters he has been witnessing. Percy's mother, Sally, is behind the wheel. The chase intensifies as they find themselves pursued by a minotaur, a creature that posed a specific challenge for the visual effects (VFX) designers. Despite the difficulty, the VFX team was thrilled to successfully bring this menacing monster to life.
"We had to ensure that the minotaur was appropriately frightening, but not overly so," stated VFX supervisor Erik Henry. "You can't be too terrifying when you're wearing underpants," he added, referring to the minotaur's tighty-whities.
"We made the decision to have the minotaur attack by running on all fours. Personally, for us, it was a terrifying sight to see a bull charging towards you on all fours," explained the speaker.
The final scene showcased during the panel featured footage of a high-stakes game of capture the flag played by the campers. As these campers are all demigods training to become heroes, they engage in the game using swords, lances, and other weapons (although no actual harm is allowed). After an intense group battle, one camper informs their teammate that Percy and Annabeth have a plan. The scene then transitions to Percy, alone on a rock, performing the dance move known as the floss (from the game Fortnite) rather than receiving dental treatment. He proceeds to relieve himself, interact with a lizard, and then recline on a log before being ambushed by Clarisse, the leader of the Ares camp (played by Dior Goodjohn), and her allies.
Clarisse is depicted as a formidable adversary, a true offspring of the god of war, and she is determined to seek revenge against Percy. Despite facing four opponents, Percy shows remarkable resilience as Clarisse pursues him towards a river. In a critical moment, he breaks her special electric spear, allowing his team to successfully capture the flag. As Percy staggers backward, Annabeth (portrayed by Leah Jeffries) reveals that she had been invisibly by his side all along. When Percy inquires why, she proceeds to push him into the water, which immediately begins to heal his wounds... dun-dun-dun.
All three scenes that were shown feel like they were directly taken from the pages of the book, with a deliberate and heartfelt approach. However, as Steinberg, Shotz, and the rest of the show's team emphasized, remaining faithful to the books is just one aspect of their job.
"I believe there are two responsibilities," Steinberg explained. "The first is to ensure that if you have a deep love for these books and they hold a special place in your childhood, heart, or even adulthood, you will receive what you came for. You will witness the things that you previously only imagined. However, if that's all you get... then we haven't fully fulfilled our responsibilities. Therefore, the challenge lies in how we can surprise you in a way that seamlessly integrates with the rest of the story, as if it could have always been a part of it. I think this is something we cannot achieve without the involvement of Rick or Becky."