Disney Plus is adapting the much beloved Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. So far, the casting announcements have been **chef’s kiss emoji**. The main cast are three young and relatively unknown actors, who Riordan swears will embody the characters that the fans love. As for the adult cast, there have been some fantastic choices — Jason Mantzoukas as reluctant camp counselor and god of wine Dionysus, for instance, as well as Canadian wrestler Adam Copeland as Ares, the aggressive god of war. Each casting announcement has just been so on point, increasing the excitement.
It was inevitable that they would mess up.
Disney recently announced that Lin-Manuel Miranda — of Hamilton, In the Heights, Moanaand Encanto fame, to mention a few — will be guest starring as Hermes, the messenger god. Now, Hermes doesn’t play a major part in the first Percy Jackson book, so it’s likely that Miranda isn’t going to have a huge appearance in the show. But the fact that he’s going to be in it feels like a misstep.
While Miranda is a phenomenal songwriter and lyricist, his singing and acting skills are … fine. His best work happens when he’s behind the camera (or stage, or piano, or whatever metaphor you want to toss in here). Take no further look that Vivo, Netflix’s animated kinkajou movie which starred Miranda as the title monkey. Or His Dark Materials, another adaptation of a beloved children’s series, where he plays Texan balloonist Lee Scoresby. In both instances, it feels like Miranda is simply playing a version of himself instead of the character, like Vivo and Lee were simply Fortnite skins for the Miranda character.
Unfortunately the audience for this show — namely Gen Z’ers who grew up with this book series or are still actively reading it — aren’t as keen on Miranda as their older millennial siblings might be. The composer is somewhat of an infamous meme on social platforms like TikTok. In July 2020, Insider reported a huge wave of memes centered around a particular selfie of Miranda biting his lip. It’s not that young people hate him… it’s just that to them he’s a bit cringe.
But ultimately, the reason this feels so out of step is that compared to the rest of the cast, Miranda is too famous. Yes, Mantzoukas has a sizable fanbase, but he’s not anywhere near the household name that Miranda is. Percy Jackson is supposed to focus on the young characters, with any adults simply there to bolster their stories. But having a very famous face in the mix, even if it’s just for a few moments, might detract from their performances.
Of course, we won’t know till we see the show — and who knows? Maybe Miranda’s take on the Greek god will blow us all away.
The Percy Jackson series is expected to hit Disney Plus sometime in 2024.