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The 10 Greatest Moments from The Hunger Games Saga
Directors Gary Ross and Francis Lawrence brought to life so many iconic moments from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games books.
One of the most successful book to film adaptations of the last decade, The Hunger Games saga has earned $2.9 billion at the box office and global critical praise for how it portrays classism, war and revolution in a future, dystopian North America. The film series gets a prequel in November, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, and all four films are streaming now on Peacock, so it's the perfect time to revisit the franchise that opened the door for a slew of YA book adaptations and propelled the career of Jennifer Lawrence into the superstardom realm.
If you need a quick refresher, the reluctant heroine of The Hunger Games is District 13 resident Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence). Living an impoverished existence with her mother and young sister, Prim (Willow Shields), Everdeen is almost aged out of the mandatory lottery that forces children from the ages of 12 to 18 to fight to the death in a nationally televised competition dubbed the Hunger Games. When Prim is selected, Katniss volunteers to take her place and inadvertently ignites the seeds of rebellion and then revolution with her compassionate choices.
Across the four films of the saga, there are innumerable moments that still resonate with book readers and film audiences. SYFY WIRE has whittled down our list of 10 favorites that capture seminal moments in the series. So dig in, and see how our list stacks up to your own favorite moments.
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - The Kiss
A subplot to the whole The Hunger Games narrative is Katniss' relationship with fellow District 13 Tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Their "on screen" romance is constructed by their mentors to gain sympathy from the viewers (and financial support from wealthy patrons), and Katniss resents it from the start. But what she doesn't expect is to actually come to like Peeta as the kind and selfless person that he is inside and outside of the game. By Catching Fire, the lines become more blurred for Katniss with regards to her feelings about Peeta, and this big smooch is the first time we see her actually respond from the heart towards him. It becomes a big motivator for her moving forward in the story.
9. The Hunger Games - They Don't Own Me
This quiet scene in The Hunger Games is a window into the soul of Peeta for Katniss and the audience. In a world where trust is impossible, Peeta's honest revelations to Katniss about how he wants to behave in the games lets us see that he has an integrity that's too good for this world. It opens the door to her actually seeing him as an ally instead of an obstacle.
8. The Hunger Games - Rule Change
After a grueling games full of violence and inhumanity, Katniss and Peeta are the last two standing. Seemingly one will have to sacrifice themselves for the games to end, but Katniss decides to defy the norms and asks Peeta to eat poisonous berries with her so the Capital will have no winner to exploit. Just as they are about to ingest them, the Capital declares them both winners. And so begins a war of wills between Katniss and President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II - Stay with Me
After enduring torture and mental abuse, Peeta is returned to the Resistance a shell of his former self. Battling against being triggered to become violent towards Katniss, the mutt attack tests his ability to control his recovery. In a last ditch effort to regain his focus, Katniss lays a big old kiss on him that ends up churning up familiar feelings for both of them. For Peeta, it's a reminder of his will and hope. For Katniss, it's proof that the kind boy inside his battered body is still alive and trying to claw his way back out.
6. The Hunger Games - The Cornucopia
There are several games depicted in the film saga, but Gary Ross' first go at it is shot with such visceral immediacy that it absolutely lands the terror and bleakness experienced by the Tributes in a way that encapsulates the brutality of the entire endeavor.
5. The Hunger Games - Rue
The death of Rue works as both a personally devastating moment of loss for Katniss, but also as an ignition point for the whole country of Panem. Watching the sweet little girl lose her life will compel many Districts to stand up for the first time and push back against the Capital. It's also one heck of a tear-inducing moment for audiences.
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I - Reunited with Peeta
After Peeta's kidnapping by the Capitol, he's brainwashed into despising Katniss and is used as a tool to break her down and scare the rebelling Districts. When he's initially returned, Katniss sees an emaciated and broken Peeta. And then he attacks! It's a brutal twist that ends the film on a dark note and leaves the audience terrified for Peeta and Katniss going forward.
3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II - May Your Aim Be True
Across two games and a rebellion, Katniss plays the game and acts as a symbol for many things. In the wake of seeming victory against the Capitol, Katniss quickly assesses that rebellion leader President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is no better than Snow and makes the decision to end the madness, once and for all. It's shocking, controversial but in keeping with Katniss' sense of justice and hope to make change for the greater good.
2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II - Explosion
From the very first film, it's made clear that Katniss holds no one more dear than her sister Prim. Across three films, audiences watch her willing to sacrifice her very life to keep Prim safe. And so, when Katniss enters the Capitol center and watches as bombs rain down on the crowd and sees Prim amongst them, well, that's a straight-up gut punch for the characters and the audience.
1. The Hunger Games - I Volunteer
It's this impulsive moment of self-sacrifice that will change the entire landscape of Panem and the Capitol's rule. When Katniss offers to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games, she becomes a symbol for the most disenfranchised and oppressed citizens of the nation. For the wealthy, she becomes a reality star for them to bet against for their mercurial pleasure. For the Capitol, she becomes a dangerous potential enemy that must be snuffed out. And for Katniss, her choice becomes the spark of defiance that will set her on a new path she never could have imagined.
All four films in The Hunger Games franchise are now streaming on Peacock.