What The Hunger Games SHOULD Have Looked Like In The Movies

 

How are The Hunger Games  different than the books? Several characters look different and a few story lines may have changed, but the film producers did the smart thing and allowed the books’ author, Suzanne Collins, to consult and collaborate on the adaptation. Still, it’s always difficult to pack all of the book’s material into a feature film (or four). There’s bound to be some obvious missteps.

When it comes to Hunger Games book vs. movie discussions, it’s easy to forget the challenges of casting. An actor may look exactly like a book character, but this series requires lots of action, emotional range, and the ability to convey Collins’s intent across three books – not an easy job when there are die hard fans waiting for you to trip up. Fortunately, Collins was part of the audition process, and the search was exhaustive and intense (except for the lazy casting of Buttercup in the first film).

In the books, we are experiencing Katniss’s story through her first person narration. In the screen versions, there is no narration. That gave the filmmakers the opportunity to feature other aspects of the story, and to take some license with the characters’ looks. This can be frustrating for book fans, while giving those new to the Hunger Games trilogy a more complete idea of the story.

While the filmmakers got a lot of the casting right (Gale, Prim, Cinna, Rue), they sometimes made some out-of-the box choices. What do you think? How were The Hunger Games books different than the movies? What did they get right? What is your biggest beef? Was Donald Sutherland’s President Snow up to snuff or just not snakey enough? What about the casting of Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright as Wiress and Beetee.

Hutcherson’s casting is pretty close to the books, except maybe for the length of his hair and his brown eyes. Oh, and onscreen Peeta has all of his limbs, he’s just lost his mind at the end of Mockingjay Part 1

Peeta Mellark in the Books: Minus One Leg

In the book, Peeta has his leg amputated after infection sets in from the Games. Also, book Peeta has blue eyes. Peeta is described in the book as “medium height, stocky build, ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead.” 
Donald Sutherland is an attractive villain on screen and he uses his white hair and beard to full effect. But he’s definitely not the book Snow, with his weird mouth and snake-like features. Despite his toned-down look, maybe Sutherland is creepy enough with this roguish version of Snow, because did we really want to see the Voldemort version for four films? Maybe? 

The book version of President Snow is strikingly different than the screen version. The literary character is described as “a small, thin man with paper-white hair,” with thick lips that are stretched across his face. His appearance is snake-like.

According to the books, as Snow poisoned his enemies, he had to drink some of the poison himself. He took an antidote, but he was not cured of the sores the poison left behind. He had surgery to fix his weird mouth, but it still looked weird. He wears genetically engineered roses to cover the smell of blood in his mouth. Creepy (and gross).

Stanley Tucci’s Caesar is decidedly more understated than the book version. His makeup is apparent, but doesn’t totally live up to the over-the-top custom of the Capitol, or the way he’s described in the books. Yet somehow, Tucci captures the ghoulish media bloodsucker without all of the ornamentation. 

Caesar’s probably been injecting embalming fluid because he has changed little over the 40 years of his broadcast career. Katniss describes him this way: “Same face under a coating of pure white makeup. Same hairstyle that he dyes a different color for each Hunger Games. Same ceremonial suit, midnight blue dotted with a thousand tiny electric bulbs that twinkle like stars. They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner.”  

For the 74th Hunger Games, Caesar went blue. “Caesar’s hair is powder blue and his eyelids and lips are coated in the same hue. He looks freakish but less frightening than he did last year when his color was crimson and he seemed to be bleeding.”

Sorry, but there’s no way a bloated alcoholic would look this good. Woody Harrelson is the middle aged man we all wish we could be: Tanned, in shape, and rocking a straight blonde wig, as he sometimes does. And of course, he’s got those light blue eyes. 

Haymitch in the Books: Your Paunchy, Curly-Haired Drunk Guy

Woody Harrelson’s casting as Haymitch was one of the biggest surprises when Hunger Games was being put together. The former District 12 victor is described in the novels as “paunchy” and “middle-aged,” with curly dark hair and light gray eyes. So… not Woody Harrelson. John C. Reilly was busy? 
Julienne Moore’s President Coin is a hot villain with kinder, more human eyes than her literary counterpart. Her gray hair looks real, but she’s definitely getting that silver touched up to look extra steely, and we bet someone’s tending to those white streaks up front.
In the book, she’s around 50 and has perfect gray hair that hangs in one sheet to her shoulders in a kind of silvery power cut. Katniss describes Coin’s eyes this way: “All the color was sucked away,” saying that they looked like “slush that you wish would melt away.” Katniss also suspects that the perfect gray coiffure is fake, possibly to mimic wisdom and authority.
She still has the book character’s snark and deadly axe skills, but there’s something more sophisticated about the screen version of Johanna. Less spiky, more smooth. Both pack a punch, though.

Johanna Mason in the Books: Naked Punk Lumberjack

This deadly lumberjack from District 7 pretended to be weak until she revealed that she’s a stone-cold killer. She is described in the book as having spiky brown hair and wide-set brown eyes. She’s our punk rocker from the woods.

In both the book and the film, she’s prone to nakedness.

In the film version, Enobaria’s fangs look like terrifying, sharpened shark teeth. 

Enobaria in the Books: A Terrifying, Gangsta-Toothed Chick

In the book, the Tribute from District 2 has a signature move – ripping opponents’ throats out. She even altered her teeth to be razor sharp and gold plated to remind everyone that this is her thing.

Thresh in the Movies: Smaller and Shorter Than Expected

In the film, Thresh is shorter than Marvel and less muscular than Cato. Movie Thresh is more like that guy who’s a bit of a gym rat from your office.

Thresh in the Books: Big as an Ox

In the books, the character has “dark brown skin” and “dark hair” as well as “strange golden brown eyes.” He is of strong build (“like an ox”) and stands about six and a half feet tall, making him the tallest tribute. He’s supposed to be somewhere in the Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson zip code.

Mutated Tributes in the Movies: Bland and Boring

Maybe there just wasn’t enough time to nail the special effects, but the mutated tributes In the film are pretty much just hairless dogs. Seems like a missed opportunity to show how demented the Gamemakers and President Snow are by creating monsters as vivid as the ones in the book. 

Mutated Tributes in the Books: Spooky Ghost Beasts

In the book, the beasts are the deceased tributes who are re-engineered into mutants who sometimes walk upright. They are dog-like creatures with the features of their formerly human selves. Shudder. 
The filmmakers went in a decidedly different direction with Beetee’s casting, choosing the hugely talented Jeffrey Wright. A terrific choice, but definitely the opposite of the book character’s looks. 
Described as “small in stature with ashen skin and black hair,” film Beetee is “older and fidgety,” a guy who wears glasses, “but spends a lot of time looking under them.” Beetee is definitely not Jeffrey Wright in the pages of Collins’s book. 
In the film, Crane is a young, hot, beard-tastic Wes Bentley. Because why not? His good looks probably made people care about his poisonous berry fate a little more.
Crane is described as a middle-aged man with light skin and blueish-gray eyes (Suzanne Collins loves her some gray eyes). He’s just a normal guy with a name like a soap opera villain, and not much else to distinguish him.
Lynn Cohen got to keep her teeth, while giving Mags the heart and soul of her character in the book. Fine casting! 
The 80-year-old “elderly woman” from District 4 is described as toothless in the books.

Book fans were a bit irked when they saw a black and white cat playing Buttercup, since the first book describes the cat as a muddy yellow color. Suzanne Collins was also not amused and insisted that director Francis Lawrence cast a different cat for the other movies.

Lawrence was kind of surprised at the reaction about the original casting. “You know what that was actually, and I was happy to do it, that was a request from Nina the producer and Suzanne the author,” he said. “That they thought the cat from the first movie was not the way he was described in the book. And that had annoyed a bunch of fans, and things like that.”

Buttercup in the Books: Muddy Yellow with Rotten Squash Eyes

 

Book Katniss brokered a peace with her little sister’s cat, even though she describes him as the “world’s ugliest cat. Mashed-in nose, half of one ear missing, eyes the color of rotting squash. Prime named him Buttercup, insisting that his muddy yellow coat matched the bright flower.”

The movie got it right in Catching Fire and Mockingjay Pt. 1.

 

In the movie, Clove is smaller that you might expect. Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman) is just as vicious in the film, but she’s definitely a smaller version of her book self. In the books, Katniss is smaller than the rest of the Tributes.

Clove in the Books: A Well-Fed Tribute

Like most Careers, Clove’s fit and strong. In the book, she weighs between 150-200 pounds. She’s supposed to be heavier than Katniss and stands at 5′ 4”. She has dark hair in a braid, dark eyes, and some freckles.
Amanda Plummer complemented Jeffrey’s Wright’s Beetee, proving that all you need is talent – not exact look-a-likes – to make a compelling adaptation. Plummer’s Wiress is pale, but definitely nerd-tastic, fierce, and far from quiet.
Like Beetee (nicknamed “Nuts” by Johanna), Wiress is described as “small in stature with ashen skin and black hair.” The book says she speaks in a quiet, intelligent voice. 
We get a couple of quick shots of the fancy Capitol food in the train, but beside that, there’s almost no food present in The Hunger Games

Hunger in the Books: The BIGGEST Deal

All the characters think about in the books, beside not being killed, tortured, and enslaved, is food. It’s one of the main motivations for some of the Tributes to participate in The Hunger Games.