When the Artemis Fowl series first began back in 2001, the novels were described as "Die Hard with Fairies." Coming in the wake of the Harry Potter novels, with a 12-year-old boy at the center of a magic-filled story, the comparisons were inevitable. But there was always one big difference: Artemis was not a hero, not even close. He was a jerk, a villain, a supergenius who is introduced when he kidnaps captain of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance force (LEPRecon), Holly Short, and holds her for ransom. But the Artemis Fowl trailer seems to imply the movie's writers have taken that as a mere suggestion.
Written by Eoin Colfer, the eight-novel series stars Artemis Fowl II, who is an "amoral Irish criminal mastermind," even though he's barely hit puberty. His father's disappeared; his mother's gone mad with grief, leaving him and his sister to be raised by their hardcore bodyguard, Butler. Fowl believes he has found proof of the existence of fairies, and his plan is to kidnap one of their higher ups, use her to random tons of gold to restore the family fortune. In short, he is not a nice boy.
That does change over the novels. As Fowl gets older, he settles into more of an anti-hero than a psychopathic kid who cares for little to nothing outside of his needs. But Disney seems to think that's not good enough. Artemis has to be a good kid from the outset.
As one can imagine, fans of the books aren't just upset. They're horrified. And that's after the movie underwent significant delays. This is not the Artemis they grew up with. Disney is, well, "disneyfying" Colfer's story.
On the one hand, that's what Disney does. Merriam Webster literally defines "Disneyfication" as "the transformation of something unsettling into carefully controlled and safe entertainment." On the other, this is not even close to the story fans want or expect.
But just because this story doesn't follow the books to a "T" doesn't mean that some aren't still excited. Colfer's world build of urban fantasy borders on the same supergenius level as his main character. That the story at the heart of that world isn't exactly what was in the books? That's just the price for getting it on the screen.
Artemis Fowl arrives in theaters on May 29, 2020.