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The Hunger Games Tributes Who Could Have Bested the Games
It's no secret that The Capitol rigs The Hunger Games, but which Tributes were actually well-suited to best the system?
In the four cinematic adaptations of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games books, only two actual games are depicted: the 74th Hunger Games and the third Quarter Quell, or 75th Hunger Games. The 74th games takes place in the first Hunger Games (2012) film, while the Quarter Quell is the focal point of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013). A construct of the dystopian, totalitarian government of Panem, the Games are an annual ritual enforced as a punishment upon the 12 Districts that make up the country. Every year a lottery is performed where a boy and girl tribute between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each District to compete in a televised 'fight to the death." Enforced by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his soldiers, the spectacle is revered in some Districts and reviled in others. In Districts where the "winning" of the games is considered an honor, they often train their strongest candidates as "Careers" who then volunteer to represent their District. While other District choices are entirely random, which often bodes poorly for their representatives.
In both Collin's books and in the movie adaptations, it's made abundantly clear that Snow and his Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) and then his successor, Head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), rig the games to lean into the weaknesses of some tributes and to up the drama for the viewers. And that doesn't exactly make for a level playing field for the Games. But the Tributes of both the 74th and 75th Games are an interesting bunch. Knowing the Games are an abomination, there's still a lot to admire about the fortitude and bravery of the conscripted participants. As such, with The Hunger Games franchise currently streaming on Peacock, SYFY WIRE took another look at the Tributes in those particular Games to assess who had the smarts to beat the Capitol at their own game.
Paying Tribute to the Most Able Hunger Games Tributes
Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) was the male Tribute from District 11, and the teammate of young Rue (Amandla Stenberg). A purely random lottery pick, Thresh is the strongest by chance of any Tribute in the 74th Games. He scores a perfect 10 in his assessments, which means he's of the same skill level as the Careers without the benefit of their highly-trained backgrounds. Proving himself at the Cornucopia start of the games, he manages to survive the initial ""bloodbath" and even takes out a Tribute trying to kill him. He saves Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) when she's attacked by Clove, and takes that Tribute's life because she took Rue's. In the movie, Thresh is taken down by the Gamemaker-created Mutts, which means he almost makes it to the very end. Savvy, moral and too good for a fair Games, Thresh only falls victim because the Capitol wants him out of the way for the big finish, making him a true hero against the system.
Foxface (Jacqueline Emerson) is the nickname that Katniss applies to this District 5 female Tribute. During the assessments, Katniss quickly comes to see that she is smart, analytical and wily, all of which are important skills to inherently have in the Games. She's even underestimated by the Capitol, who gave her a score of 5 in her assessments. Foxface survives the bloodbath, steals from the Careers, and remains hidden in the woods from most of the violence. She's also a victim of the Capitol's traps as hunger forces her to eat nightlock berries, which end up being poisonous and lead to her demise. In a better world, Foxface would still be hiding in those woods, avoiding death and outwitting the Capitol.
A previous survivor of an undisclosed Games, Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright) returns to the arena as the male Tribute for District 3 in the 75th Games. He's got a brilliant mind when it comes to electronics and engineering, and he uses his mind to set up traps to overcome his fellow Tributes. After surviving, Beetee was actually used by the Capitol to upgrade their technology, which gives him particular insight into Capitol weaknesses. He helps save Katniss and survives his second games. District 13 uses him to design a bomb that President Coin (Julianne Moore) uses on the Capitol children. A tool used by leadership on both sides of the war, Beetee's gifts are warped to the needs of power. If he was left to his own devices, there's no question he would be able to rig an arena to survive and thrive.
The survivor of the Third Quarter Quell, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) becomes a plaything for the rich in the Capitol, but he turns his terrible situation into an opportunity to survive and work against the Capitol from the inside. An adept finder and keeper of secrets, he trades his knowledge for power and access to the love of his life, fellow former survivor, Annie Cresta. Odair then becomes an important advocate and protector of Katniss once they survive the Quarter Quell. Smart, physically strong, and able to exploit situations to his favor, Finnick is a true player and survivor...until the very end.
The winner of the the 71st Hunger Games, Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) is the punk Tribute who is unabashedly defiant against the Capitol. In her games, she wins by pretending to be weak and useless until she turns the tables on the game and her fellow Tributes by taking the last survivors out. She pays dearly for her rage and rebellion, as the Capitol kills her family in retribution and in an attempt to tame her. But that just spurs her to become part of the underground rebellion and to fight to save Katniss. She's taken along with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), but makes it back to District 13. Despite being tortured and used as an example, Johanna never bends. In fact, her biggest downfall is losing her own sense of compassion when it comes to the the future of the Games.