Recently, Disney released a live-action adaptation of Eoin Colfer's bestselling novel series Artemis Fowl. The movie saw many significant changes from the books, most noticeably turning the lead character from a criminal into a standard heroic figure. Director of the movie, Kenneth Branagh, revealed that this change was prompted by a belief that the characterization of Artemis from the books would be difficult for movie audiences to accept.
"It was a decision based on a sort of inverse take on what I saw in the books, which was Eoin introducing Artemis gathering a sense of morality across the books. He said that he had him performed as an 11-year-old Bond villain. It seemed to me that for the audiences who were not familiar with the books, this would be a hard, hard kind of thing to accept."
In the books, Artemis Fowl is a 12-year-old scion of his father's criminal empire. After discovering the existence of fairies, Artemis hits upon a method of extracting gold from the fairy kingdom by kidnapping one of them and keeping the fairy hostage in his house. This sets up the events of the first novel in the series that the movie adapts from. Branagh believed such lofty and twisted ambitions in a 12-year-old would be a hard pill for audiences to swallow, which was why the character was changed to make his motivations more accessible.
"That one-way of mirroring what he did in the books, was to simply in one film - and to some extent I had some experiences with this with Thor, in the infinite number of possibilities of presenting him - in order to have sufficient people root for him, because Eoin manages to do that the books but it's very hard if you don't have context, we meet him in a story arc that resembles something like the Michael Corleone in The Godfather. Where someone has to, in the context of the first story, arrive where the story begins with in the novels. So the origin story of it, like Thor, was one in which we saw the character come from something more raw, in this case more familiar: going to a school, a bit like some of our audience might be familiar with."
And so the Artemis from the Disney+ movie became a defender of humanity instead, following in the footsteps of protagonists like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Branagh believes this was a compelling way to bring Artemis's personal journey to the big screen.
"I was less interested in presenting the story from the get-go, of a character who was marooned in a privileged life. I wanted us to find the humanity inside the character, before going on a journey which might be the opposite to the books but sort of integral in the sense of what I was looking for, which was a journey that maybe took our Artemis which he arrives at the end of the movie ready to go to the dark side."
These revelations about the Artemis Fowl books transitioning to the big screen come from Collider.