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Artemis Fowl director Kenneth Branagh explains why the movie version differs significantly from the books

(Image credit: Disney)

Artemis Fowl has landed on Disney Plus, and quite a few fans of the novel have been slightly surprised by Kenneth Branagh's take on Eoin Colfer’s book.

Throughout the original series, Artemis Fowl – the boy genius – was a criminal mastermind, happier being a villain than a hero. Yet, in the new adaptation, the 12-year-old plays out a little different. Rather than being a young Bond villain – as Colfer originally imagined the character – Artemis is your average boy who's thrust into a fantastical new adventure. Gone is the antagonistic relationship with his father, replaced by a healthy relationship and a rescue mission to get back Artemis Snr. 

Branagh has since explained why he made such fundamental changes to the leading character. "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 told Slash Film, going on to explain that the selling a young villain in just one movie would be impossibly hard, so a "one-way mirror" of the books would potentially not work. 

"We meet him in a story arc that resembles something like the Michael Corleone in The Godfather," he continued. "Where someone has to, in the context of the first story, arrive where the story begins within 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. 

"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."

So there you have it – Artemis Fowl, the movie, is basically The Godfather? Branagh's flick has struggled with critics, but there's so much material to mine, there's certainly room for a sequel. And if you're looking for something different to watch, check out all the best movies on Disney Plus

I'm the Entertainment Editor over here at GamesRadar+, bringing you all the latest movie and TV news, reviews, and features. I look after all the Total Film and SFX articles that end up on the website