Like a lot of book-to-screen adaptations (because, hello, the books are always better, no exceptions), The Hunger Games films left many of the stories’ tastiest scene morsels on the table and created their own ways of getting Katniss from Point A—that is, District 12 when she was still just a schoolgirl who sometimes liked to forage food in the woods—to Point B—her storming President Snow’s domain and taking down the children-slaughtering system once and for all.
While some of those changes were delish (chiefly, every single extra Seneca Crane scene) we were left a little unsatisfied by the film dish without these following moments making it into the movie menu.
Madge Undersee introducing the Mockingjay
Madge’s part in the story was about more than just the mayor’s daughter being the one to gift Katniss with the ubiquitous mockingjay symbol in the first place. Madge, whom she’d always perceived as a privileged know-nothing who got to skirt the tesserae every year (and who may or may not have had a thing for Gale Hawthorne, by the way), perished in the bombings of District 12 and proved that, ultimately, no one was safe from President Snow’s wrath. Her absence from the adaptation made Katniss more alone and reliant on Gale, and it may have toned down the personal nature of the loss when she set foot on the sooted ground.
Peeta’s father bringing Katniss cookies
Mr. Mellark, who was a long-time customer of her secret meat delivery service, brought Katniss pre-Games cookies and promised to make sure Prim had plenty to eat out of respect for her and her mother (although Katniss perceived it as a play for her protection of Peeta, which it may very well have been). We didn’t even get a snack-sized portion of his long-held affections for Mrs. Everdeen in the movie version, which was a shame because it proved that the Everdeen-Mellark connection went back way further than the Reaping.
Peeta killing the District 8 girl
In the movie, we do a major cutaway when District 8’s female tribute is cut down by the fireside, left to assume that the careers have done the deathly bidding, but in the book, it’s Peeta who goes back and finishes the job. Was it a moment of mercy, or was he playing his way into the careers’ good graces? It was hard to know for sure and it added to the massive confusion Katniss felt about him as a potential foe.
District 11 sending Katniss bread
While the movies gave us plenty of visual insight into the chaos that broke out in District 11 during and after the 74th Annual Hunger Games, and that three-fingered salute scene was to cry for, they missed out on one major moment of heartstring-tugging that had readers rooting for Rue’s district to make it through. After she shrouded little Rue in her blanket of flowers and wept without abandon for the loss, she received a gift from the girl’s district that must have cost them all everything they had. It was a sweet sacrifice and District 11’s first sign of being with the eventual Mockingjay and her refusal to be a mere part in the Capitol’s games.
Muttations as fallen tributes
There’s no doubt about it that the muttations in The Hunger Games movie version were still freaky and terrifying, but there was an extra layer of WHAT which didn’t make the cinematic cut. When Katniss and Peeta enter the third act of the Games, alongside Cato, the Gamemakers unleash their beasts upon them to speed up the victor process, and in addition to hoping for some much-needed mauling action (the deaths of Rue and Foxface were probably bumming out the Capitol audiences more than entertaining them), they obviously meant to add some major drama to the sitch by transposing the fallen victors’s faces onto their mean little mutts. No doubt, the CGI work on that concept would have been out of control expensive and looked weird no matter how skilled the artists were, but it still would’ve been cool to see this vivid moment come to life on the big screen.
Peeta’s amputated leg
While movie Peeta walks away from The Hunger Games relatively unscathed—although he gets plenty of hurt later on in the series—his book persona lost a leg as a result of his injuries in the arena. Not only did this justify Katniss’ excess concern for his survival in Catching Fire, but it also proved that, while we couldn’t see his mental damages the way we could with Katniss, he still had some physical scars from that experience to show as well.
Katniss meeting Twill and Bonnie
In Catching Fire, Katniss gets her first taste of the revolution when she meets these District 8 refugees, who are basically starving on their quest to make it to District 13 after their own home has been ravaged by the violence of the Capitol’s machinations. They hide out in Katniss’ dad’s old stomping grounds, filling their bellies with bread and Katniss’s mind with intel. Their loss from the movie means, for one thing, that we never get to see Mr. Everdeen’s old hunting hideaway, and also that we don’t get to feel that sting when we realize they never made it to the long lost district.
Katniss and the shock fence
There are two things that were lost by not showing us the electrified fence scene from Catching Fire. (1) The first installment of President Snow trying to secretly kill Katniss as retribution for her Games trickery, and (2) her ability to literally overcome the obstacles he would place in front of her.
Peeta revealing his memory book
There’s a lot of Peeta-Katniss gush missing from the movie version of Catching Fire, especially during the Victory Tour. But perhaps none leaves as big of a void as the absence of Peeta’s memory book. It was a treasure to both of the new District 12 victors because it helped them to draw out the visuals that otherwise haunted them in a beautiful and honorary light. Plus, it was a source of healing for Peeta, and his perspective reveal here was vital to showcasing Katniss’ true affection for him.
The Second Quarter Quell (Haymitch’s backstory)
This was such a fan-favored scene that when talk of a spin-off series came along (because this franchise was straight fire at the box office), a lot of people thought it might be cool to journey back to the 50th Annual Hunger Games and watch Haymitch and Maysilee Donner do battle with twice the tributes and unwittingly lay the groundwork for Beetee’s brilliant arena forcefield manipulation plan.
Plutarch and the mockingjay watch/dance
The movies gave us gobs of new Plutarch Heavensbee monologues, but one thing that was inexplicably missing was the moment in which the new Head Gamesmaker first reveals his allegiance to the underground rebellion during the victor’s celebration at President’s Snow mansion. In the scene, he invites Katniss to dance and shows her his watch which has a blink-and-you’d-miss-it Mockingjay flash and serves as both a clue (her lightbulb moment about that would strike later during one of Wiress’s “tick, tock” tirades) and a symbol of his loyalty to her.
Katniss killing a Capitol citizen
In Mockingjay, Katniss puts an arrow through the heart of a random Capitol citizen whose utility closet she and the unit emerge from the sewers through, and it serves as a bit of propaganda against her and her cold-hearted willingness to gun down anyone in the city who stands in her way. Katniss herself seems surprised by how simple it was for her and how much blood these Games have put on her hands.
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