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Real Or Not Real?

3 Changes To The Hunger Games: Catching Fire That Might Annoy You

Taking a story from book to screen always requires changes but some haunt fans more than others (ex: Hermione’s Yule Ball dress). So beware, we’ve gotten word of three distinct changes from Suzanne Collins’ Catching Fire to Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Will they make you scream or say “meh?” Hit the jump to find out. 

I wouldn’t necessarily qualify this information as a spoiler, it’s more “things that won’t be in the movie,” but your milage may vary. Things from the book will be discussed, if you’d rather go into the film fresh, don’t read ahead.

Even though Lawrence says The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is “very, very true to the book,” Entertainment Weekly recently rounded up a few alterations fans might not be happy with (this lady included). “It’s as agonizing for us to lose things from the book as it is for a fan,” producer Nina Jacobson told them. “I want every single thing in there. But you know what? If you have to give up something in order to give more time to Katniss and Gale or to Effie as she starts to feel a conscience, you make the sacrifices in order to serve the characters and themes that are more essential.”

That being said, you can say goodbye to Darius, the young Peacekeeper from District 12. He eventually becomes an Avox so it appears that particular storyline from the novels is gone for good. I’m only slightly perturbed by this, as it’s an excellent example of how cruel The Capitol really is, but I suppose that was an easy change to make. Also cut from the film are Bonnie and Twill, the runaways from District 8. I’m a little unsure about their exclusion, mostly because they further the plot along by letting Katniss know about the bubbling revolution and District 13.

But the change that bothers me the most is one for a main character. Peeta will now know how to swim. From EW:

“We made some changes to Peeta’s narrative,” says Lawrence. “We manned him up a little. And by the way it didn’t take a lot, just little choices to make here and there. The story doesn’t really change, his relationship with Katniss doesn’t change, he’s just a different kind of character.” For instance, in the book, the Hunger Games kicks off and Peeta is paralyzed when the other all-star tributes dive into the water. “The option is for either me drowning or sitting there like a cat batting my paw into the water,” says Josh Hutcherson with a laugh. “Either way the visual is horrible.” Easy fix: Let Peeta swim.

I’m extremely disappointed in the “We manned him up a little” line. It just furthers gender stereotypes unnecessarily. If you’ve read the books, you know Peeta is a great character, why lump him in with all the other tough guys by taking away one of his flaws? That’s not Peeta and that’s not what The Hunger Games is about. God forbid a man needs rescuing for a change.

What are your thoughts on these departures from the book series?

(via Jezebel, image via Hunger Games wiki)

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  • Darth Lolita

    Peeta is not a *great* character by any means. He’s done better in the movies, where at least the actor doesn’t portray him as a cheeky bastard who’s constantly coercing Katniss into being romantic with him when she doesn’t want to.

    In fact, the Hunger Games as books are filled with stuff that never goes anywhere, female characters that are either vilified or set aside, and world building that just plain sucks (Collins does not understand how starving people work).

    So, no, I’m not worried. In this case, the movies are better than the books.

  • Shannon

    I don’t mind them making Peeta more self sufficient, to be honest. I realize this is a minority opinion, but I found Peeta rather annoying in the books, and will enjoy a version of the character that can keep up a little better.

  • Shannon

    YES THANK YOU. His constant pressuring of Katniss to be in a relationship drives me absolutely crazy. You’re not supposed to *wear a girl down* into being your girlfriend. I’ve had people try, and it is the least romantic experience.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    I didn’t mean great as in positive, I meant great as in, well-written, flawed, not generic hero dude.

  • Mina

    I don’t mind that they made him able to swim. I probably would have forgotten that he couldn’t by the time the movie comes out. It’s been a while since I read the book. I DO mind the way they phrased it. That was…unnecessary.

    It is really odd to cut out Bonnie and Twill though. I can understand, I guess. You only have so much time in a movie and you can’t cover everything, so a part that doesn’t really connect to the rest of the book kind of makes sense as the thing to cut. But it does tie in to the concluding book, so it seems odd to totally leave it out. I’m sure they’ll make it work though.

  • Amanda Cox

    I do find the whole “man up” comment to be extremely aggravating, but not surprising, considering how Peeta and Katniss’s relationship was handled in the first movie versus the book. I (sort of) understand the concerns over the visual, but is it really that aesthetically displeasing to show someone saving another person from drowning? I’m sure if Katniss was the one balking or struggling, it wouldn’t be considered a “horrible” visual.

  • Mina

    I can understand that, but that wasn’t my impression of Peeta. In The Hunger Games, he really doesn’t understand that Katniss is only playing up to the cameras and doesn’t feel the same for him that he does for her. So in Catching Fire, it makes sense that he would feel let down and used to discover that she has no intentions of going forward with any of it. And she’s rather uncertain about her feelings for him, so he probably picks up on that and isn’t sure how to interact with her, whether to be romantic or platonic or just walk away altogether. I don’t think he pressures her though. If they hadn’t had to go back to the games, I think he’d have just let her be. And in Mockingjay, he’s certainly not trying to be romantic with her, he’s just trying to remember her. So I never felt like Peeta was pressuring her at all, just that he was as confused on what to do with his feelings as she was with hers (though they were somewhat different feelings).

  • Nicole Elizabeth Currie

    Agreed on the way they phrased it. Making him swim, no big deal, saying that they had to “man him up” irritates the hell out of me.

  • Nat

    I never liked Peeta to begin with and honestly wished he had either converted to the Capitol or died in the first book (and then the fallout from that because regardless Katniss was the symbol for the start of the revolution with the mockingjay pin) so… ambivalent. Whatever.

  • LetsGoMarauders

    It’s a book, It’s a movie. Go outside and see real life. Move on.

  • Sarah

    I agree that Peeta just seemed kind of flat in the books. (Don’t get me wrong; I loved the books!) I felt about him the way I often feel about women in books/movies/games created by and for men: that his character seemed more like a plot vehicle than a real person. I don’t think the problem is that he’s not (traditionally) manly enough, but I can see how people might come to that conclusion, since he does repeatedly get “damseled” (as Anita Sarkeesian might put it). Rather than seeing him be “manned up” (ugh), I’d be happier just to see him made into a more substantial and authentic character. Peeta’s strength is his charm and way with people, and I loved how that contrasted with Katniss’s social awkwardness. Strong people skills are a wonderfully un-gendered personality trait (at least, I think so) that could have been fleshed out even more in Peeta’s case to show that he’s not helpless even if he can’t swim.

  • Stephanie Eversole Vandenburg

    Well, look how much they deviated away from the books with LotR, The Hobbit, some of the Harry Potters…The Hobbit, for instance, includes a lot of things that are not in the book. But we (or at least I) love them anyway and try to learn to accept things like this.

    However, I definitely agree about the comment of manning Peeta up. Gender stereotyping goes both ways, I suppose.

  • Jill Pantozzi

    I have a feeling nothing will make that individual happy…

  • Sasha Twen

    Just for the record, as I understand it this was the producer talking, not Lawrence. I certainly I agree with everything else you said.

  • SimonSays

    Did you honestly come on a website devoted to critiquing, analyzing, engaging with others, and generally exploring both books and movies and throw in a wahhh post about going outside and seeing “real life”?

    Throw a clue your way. Regardless of your stance on “real” life versus literary and cinematic reflections of culture, this really is so inane it is amusing enough to warrant a comment.

    I’d call “Troll” but I’m afraid you wouldn’t get it…what with being such a real life aficionado.

  • SimonSays

    Some deviations bring a cinematic telling to life in a way that the literary representation might have failed. Although I’m in total agreement at the rankling of the “man up” comment.

  • Jen Roberts

    Not JLaw who said it. It was FRANCIS Lawrence, not Jennifer.

  • AnnaB

    “Manned him up” made me hate this change. I would’ve been, “What! Ah, well,” if they’d just said, “There’s a lot of water in this movie and too much time would be spent managing Peeta’s inability to swim, so we just let him swim–easier that way,” I might’ve just accepted it. But “Because manly!” is so upsetting.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, my eyes tried to roll out of my head when I read that line.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, my eyes tried to roll out of my head when I read that line.

  • Anonymous

    Any word if they’re going to give Katniss more agency in the movies rather than less as time goes on? Because that’s a change I could get behind.

  • Katy

    I don’t understand why they have to “man him up”. In the books it’s quite clear that he’s very strong and capable even though (spoilers) he’s missing a freaking leg! Do they have to make him manlier because he also happens to be kind, artistic, and compassionate or because opposite Katniss he looks weaker? If anything the desire to man him up has to come from the book to screen transition. In Katniss’s POV in the books, it’s always very clear that while she may not show it, she is very aware and respectful of his physical strength and character. I understand that the shot may look silly, but then just say it looked silly.

  • Katy

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard “cheeky bastard” to describe Peeta until now. When exactly does he coerce Katniss into being romantic? I suppose his initial declaration could put her in an uncomfortable situation, but otherwise I always thought it came off as she was pretending and he wasn’t. In the second book, I felt he was more of a reactionary character to Katniss’s indecisiveness. He plays for the cameras when they have to, and is there for her when she wants him. I really just thought he was confused about what she wanted and happy to get whatever she gave him whether it be platonic friendship or romantic love.

  • Katy

    I thought Finnick rescued Peeta in this scene. Isn’t one of the first things Finnick does to gain Katniss’s trust?

  • Riley

    I honestly wouldn’t have noticed any of that, and I say that as someone who likes Catching Fire the best out of the three books.

    Also I don’t see why everyone’s getting their panties in a knot over the phrase “man up”. Yeah I guess it’s a misrepresentation of Peeta’s character but I don’t think they were deliberately trying to insult the character. They just couldn’t think of a better way to say, “logically we just want him to swim”.

  • Anonymous

    And again, they cut little things here and there… that completely change the tone of the story. Sure, who cares about supporting supporting characters who don’t have love interests? They only add to the richness of the social commentary, which was all but gone in the first movie, and obviously also the second. Meh.
    I could care less about Peta swimming but “man up”? really? I know women who swim like fish, are they men?

  • Eva Catherine Harding

    I’m not a hardcore fan but i’m still unhappy about this. Specifically Peeta- one thing that sets the hunger games apart is it’s positive gender roles.

  • Anonymous

    “Whoa guys, talking about your interests in public is just too extreme!”

    —someone whose entire Disqus profile is themed around a minor-league baseball team

  • Anonymous

    I think without his missing leg, it would be difficult to immediately telegraph to the audience that he can’t swim. But then, it misses kind of a nice character moment—and if I’m understanding what she’s saying, it’s to make him more blandly attractive? o_ô

  • Anonymous

    they cut little things here and there

    [insert joke about Peeta's leg here]

    But yes, I agree. A lot of the social commentary (especially Katniss’s reality-TV strategy) exists only in the narration; without that, the moments of character interaction become kind of important. Remove them, and it’s just another run-of-the-mill YA action series.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    I’ve not read the books, but I think changing Peeta from a damsel in need of rescuing to someone who can rescue himself isn’t entirely a bad thing. As that Anna lady mentioned, reversing the Damsel In Distress trope isn’t enough – it just needs to be removed entirely from our consciousness. Katniss has already been established as a strong female character; it’s okay to have strong male characters as well.

    However, indeed, the term “man up” made me wince a bit, because of course that insinuates that women *can’t* swim – otherwise why not use the term “woman him up”? They could have just used the phrase “toughen him up” and stripped gender from the entire exchange.

    I’m not sure how much impact the cut characters had on the story – there does seem to be some needed “paring” of characters from books to movies, or books to TV shows but as long as the core story remains, enough for me, although I can understand fans of minor characters might be a bit put out.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Should’ve drowned him. Can’t stand Peeta. Thor Jr. should have room to grow.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed. I very much prefer film Peeta and don’t see that changing with these changes.

  • Shannon

    What about when he presented them as an item in front of the world, thereby coercing her into pantomiming a relationship for the cameras and audience–a strategy they were both well aware of–regardless of how comfortable she was with the idea, and then guilt tripped her when they finally had privacy and she backed off because the fake relationship, which was his idea, was fake?

  • Saraquill

    I understand that the damsel in distress device is more than overused and is a symptom of how females were regarded in many societies. That said, why would you want to erase it so completely that no one is aware of it? It has a place in storytelling. Moreover, it should be known, if for nothing else than to teach others about how women were/are thought of.

    Also, there are times when even a tough, capable person of any gender ends up in a difficult spot. Completely removing the idea of a person in distress may introduce an element of shame, as in “how dare you show weakness, that’s disgraceful.”

  • Katy

    Okay, I guess that’s one way to look at it, but I recall the scene as Peeta declares his love for Katniss, then Haymitch, Cinna, Effie, and Portia essentially saying “Wow! This is a great idea, now people will notice you.” I don’t recall Peeta saying anything about it. Granted, I don’t like the idea of public declarations (like public proposals) because it does put an added pressure on people. Still, if any characters are coercing Katniss, it’s Haymitch and Snow.

    When did they have privacy and he coerced her? In the cave in the arena because they didn’t, they got gifts from Haymitch which means people were watching. After the Games, Peeta thinks they’re for real (or at least that’s how Katniss portrays him) and she shuts him down pretty quickly. I really don’t remember any other times he tries to pressure her in private.

    Still this is the disadvantage of 1st person narration, we don’t really know what Peeta’s master plan is, we only know what Katniss thinks of him. She characterizes him as gentle and strong, but maybe he is a manipulative bastard who tricks everyone into thinking he’s a nice guy when he’s actually a Nice Guy.

  • gelewunitidy

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    I thought Finnick rescued Peeta in this scene. Isn’t one of the first things Finnick does to gain Katniss’s trust?

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    I can see your points – and indeed, having a character that’s never in a bad situation turns into a Mary Sue – weaknesses are important. The problem comes when a specific character (or gender) is described as weak/needing help a great deal – and then you get the inversion where you flip it. Some situations should be tough for some characters and easy for others – ideally everyone should have something to contribute to the story.

    I think that probably if Peeta had shown more strength in the first movie, it wouldn’t be so flagrant to me in this instance. Perhaps the directors et al thought that Peeta was steadily being turned into a damsel, who isn’t just a person that needs help, but a person who has no other function except to be rescued. He shouldn’t just exist as a yoke around Katniss’s neck. No more than a female character’s existence should only exist as an “object” to be rescued by a protagonist.

    With “keeping the trope for posterity” – not sure I can agree with this at this point in time, due to the trope being quite rife in our society – we don’t need any more reminders of abhorrent behaviour. Maybe centuries from now, when we’ve all advanced a lot more, we can see something like sexism or racism and just go “oh, those people were so backward and quaint back then” and be condescending to people in the “Stupid Ages”.

    The Feminist Frequency clips explain the concept far more eloquently than me – worth a look. While Anna applies it for video games, it’s applicable in all media that has story elements within it.

  • Brittany K

    I’m not surprised about no Darius, since the Avox storyline was cut in the first movie, but I think cutting Bonnie and Twill is a mistake. How is Katniss supposed to find out about District 13 now?
    As for the Peeta thing, the thing that bothers me about that (aside from the dumb wording of “manning him up”) is that that was the beginning grounds for trusting Finnick.

  • Erica M.

    Peeta couldn’t swim in the books because he had never been taught to or had the chance to (the electrified fence around the perimeter of District 12), not because he wasn’t ‘manly’ enough to do it. Katniss could because her and her father had snuck out from the fence that was badly kept up and he taught her how. I don’t understand the wording they chose to use. It seems very unnecessary for a situation that was quite logical on why Peeta couldn’t swim in the books. I would think they could use that information to help reinstate the fence being electrified 24/7 now along with other security changes in District 12 that is part of the plot of the 2nd book.

  • MeatyStakes

    Eh, if you put “man up”in a context where “woman up” is the female equivalent, it just means to be proactive and not just laying around. Maybe?

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    I guess that’s a point :) It’s probably that we don’t use “woman up” as an expression that kinda skews the view – there are a fair few examples of “man” which relate to work rather than gender too (some people get really PC about things which aren’t actual examples of sexism too). I guess it also comes down to context. However, that’s the thing – you see this in a lot of sound bites where the PR teams probably should be more mindful of their target audience. When you’re putting something out there, if you alienate a percentage of your target audience, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I mean, they could have done it worse … could have said something like “he fights like a girl” – which would be somewhat ironic as probably a backhanded compliment due to Katniss’s prowess.

    But yeah, I think the tendency is to use language that doesn’t invoke a gender at all unless it’s crucial, generally to stop people attributing various traits (even positive ones!) with a specific gender. And that can make PR sometimes a complete minefield. On the flip side, as mentioned above, some people are overly sensitive as well. I’m still going to see the movie, for example.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    You know, I had the same thoughts – I watched the movie, checked out the book and I was like “err … hrm …” but then again, I didn’t give it a proper read. Some media seem better to express some ideas, some books suffer from implementation as you say. Some authors actually prefer what the movie does with their base material, and on the flip side, some books are extremely difficult to translate into any form of visual media.

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    It might also have been an error in the first movie – apparently the fact he couldn’t swim was foreshadowed in the books and not suddenly announced when he drops into the water. For narrative purposes, they would have had to reproduce that scene too and maybe it was time constraints so they cut both aspects? Most book to film translations do lose a fair few details – but as long as they don’t chop major details that fully derail the plot, I guess they’re minor sins?

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    Could not agree with your comment any more. The damselling comes when someone is just objectified as a gamepiece of some description without any other worth. Being a great partner (covering her weaknesses) gives him a vital role in his relationship with Katniss – as I hope real world couples have :)

  • Saraquill

    I read the transcripts for all 3 of her Damsel videos. I found them deeply unsatisfying since she only covered the “what” of the trope, and left out the “why” and “how this can be remedied.”

    As for specific characters being shown as weak or needing lots of help, well, they have their place. I’m specifically thinking of ones who are sickly, or impaired in body or mind. I don’t think it’s bad to portray people like that,as long as their shown to be full people and not a handful of traits.

  • Fisty

    You can’t say things like “man up” around a bunch of feminists. You know that.

  • Alisha Simmons

    WHAAAATT??!! BUT THEN HOW WILL KATNISS FIND OUTABOUT DISTRICT 13?? this sucks. and peeta shouldn’t know how to swim!!!! finnick is supposed to carry him over the water!!! that’s supposed to show Katniss finnick was on her side!!! UGH THAT’S WHY I HATE WHEN BOOKS CONVERT INTO MOVIES!! THEY MESS EVERYTHING UP!!!!

  • Melynda

    I’ve never read Catching Fire, but haven’t they already changed Peeta’s character a bit by letting him keep his leg?

  • Jill Pantozzi

    I didn’t see it as insulting the character, more like insulting the audience who appreciates the character as he is. They think they need to “man him up” for us and they don’t.


    Not even on a principal of having to make a character “man up” (which is still really dumb), it’s downright annoying to change things to make a character more or less of something, when what’s changed emphasizes aspects of that character.

    It’s like letting Uncle Ben survive in Spider-Man so people don’t think he’s weak for crying; it just ruins Spidey’s entire emphasis on responsibilities.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. Admittedly, it’s notoriously hard to adapt books to the screen when they have a 1st person narrative unless you’re ready to go Philip Marlowe and have a voice-over narration. And even then, cheese factor aside, it rarely works, especially when said narration is more of a commentary as in the Hunger Games books.
    But if you don’t tell, you should at least show, and it feels like they didn’t do much of it in the first movie, and are running away from it again in the second one.
    Hopefully the riots, as well as the increased exposure of Snow, will help them with that side in Catching Fire

  • josmart

    Forced my way through the first book just to see it to the end but I just couldn’t bring myself to go back to the second after briefly starting it. Very badly executed.

    The reason I started reading it was because it seemed similar to another series that I loved as a kid; The Tripods. That set of books would make a cool movie if not for anything but for for the sake of nostalgia as other movies with similar elements have already been made.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    This times a million.

  • Anonymous

    I think its hard to qualify what Lawrence said. She has a way of speaking off the cuff. But I don’t know if it would have been so visually problematic for him to struggle. Perhaps it was a pacing issue and this is how she chose to phrase it. Remember this is a woman we love for speaking her mind without a filter. (I’m not defending it, again, I’d rather see him struggle but it was J. Law speaking)

  • Anonymous

    Reading the books, I remember finding Peeta irritating at first – he never seemed to be capable of anything. Then I started to admire that fact: there’s plenty of strong women in fiction, but they generally get paired up with men who are either just as strong or stronger. The archetypical quote on the subject is the Red Sonja one, ‘No man may have me, unless he’s beaten me in a fair fight’. The implication, of course, is that no matter how capable a woman is, any man worth the name must still be stronger. I was so used to that being the convention, I found it unromantic that the guy was unable to compete with the girl for action competence. I never got to really like Peeta, but I disliked him because of his passsive-aggressive tendencies (being shitty about the fact that Katniss’s feelings may not be as strong as she pretended for the cameras – dud, her playacting saved your damn life! She chose possible death over taking an easy victory at the end of the Games to make sure BOTH of you made it out of the arena alive!))

    Anyway: Peeta’s good at lots of things, but it’s not in his nature to be a hunter or a warrior. It’s no reflection on his manhood that Katniss is much better at all the actiony stuff than him, and it doesn’t stop her starting to fall for him.

    Clearly, the idea that a guy might just not be any good at action stuff while his maybe-girlfirend is, is still an idea that the film people find ridiculous. The vibe is that they thought Peeta was a sissy in the books and they’ve fixed that rather than recognising the interesting dynamic at play.

  • Jim

    As a grown man that also doesn’t know how to swim, I find Peeta’s change kinda annoying and offensive.

  • Maggie

    Actually, it was Francis Lawrence, the director of the film, speaking out, not Jennifer Lawrence.

  • athenia45

    I’m still bitter about the berry scene in the first movie so….

  • allie jefferson

    “man him up” wow thay are going to change so much in mockingjay i can just tell…….and also how is katniss going to find out about district 13 and how there is going to be a rebelion?It just kind of wierd. I do love the casting role thay did,so ill give them points for that.i dont care that thay are going to make petta swim its just that “man him up” really?also ive talked to some people that havent read the books and thay still think that petta and kattniss are REALLY in love…….so i guss i wished thay would have somehoe made it cleare that katniss isnt in live (in this movie)but it was a grate film and enjoyable. lol maybe the film mackers will split the mockingjay movie in half,were peeta strangles katniss…..i wold like to see peoples re-actions that havent read the book lol :)

  • beano

    Absolutely! I have no idea how they are going to work District 13 in…and the swimming part…It’s when Katniss decides there’s no way she can kill Finnick (at least at the beginning), since she now “owes” him for helping Peeta. HM..

  • beano

    Yea, I’ve noticed, especially in the Catching Fire book, that Peeta is always needing to be saved.

  • Tina Lam

    I have read the book many times and I, for one, don’t mind Peeta “man up” a bit in the Catching Fire arena in the movie. Before you all throw stones or arrows at me, let me explain. I’m fine with him not able to swim. But the fact he needed to be rescued for the rest of arena doesn’t line up with his character. Remember he is a wrestler and he did train with Katniss and Gale before the Quarter Quell. He should perform better than the 1st arena and defend himself. Maybe we can explain away in the book that he lost his leg. In the movie, he is healthy and whole. So he should not be as helpless as he was in the book.