Entertainment Weekly has revealed their exclusive first official look at images for Catching Fire, sequel to The Hunger Games. Let’s analyze:
This new cover features Sam Claflin as new cast memeber Finnick and Jennifer Lawrence returning as Katniss. Finnick is a previously victorious Tribute from District 4. Spoiler alert–but really how are they going to market this film without letting people figure this out–the 75th Annual Hunger Games Tributes are reaped from the pool of existing victors. So Finnick, along with Katniss (and Peeta, whose photographic absence I’ll get to in a bit) must return to an Arena and fight against 23 Tributes to the live-televised death.
This time the Arena is–spoiler alert–mostly water, with the cornucopia on an island in the center and a strip of land around the outside of a circular sea. That’s why their outfits this time are basically wetsuits, although that’s not quite how they were dressed in the book:
This year’s tribute outfit is a fitted blue jumpsuit, made of very sheer material, that zippers up the front. A six-inch-wise padded belt covered in shiny purple plastic. A pair of nylon shoes with rubber soles.
The purple belts (which double as flotation devices) probably wouldn’t look particularly sexy, but in the book, the thin jumpsuits are easily ruined and they end up running around in their underwear most of the time. So the change to wetsuits for the movie is maybe an even trade-off, but I don’t think they’re very flattering. And it looks like they’ve included built-in flotation devices, like the bulge visible on Katniss’ elbow in the picture above, instead of the belt. But speaking of book vs. movie aesthetics, you know the movie is going to either leave out the part where they are covered in scabs which are covered by goopy medicine, making them look like they’re “decomposing”, according to Finnick, or they’ll minimize the scabs so they don’t cover their faces, or they’ll strategically place just one wound above Finnick’s left eyebrow or along his chiseled cheekline. You know they’ll keep him looking hot the whole film, and if they include this line from the book, it will be humorous for more than one reason:
“Poor Finnick. Is this the first time in your life you haven’t looked pretty?” I say.
“It must be. The sensations’s completely new. How have you managed it all these years?” he asks.
Personally I think Finnick looks great on this cover, although from what I’ve seen in the blogosphere so far that doesn’t appear to be a unanimous opinion. My only complaint about him is that the wetsuit makes his abs and hips look bulgy when I’m pretty positive they are not. (Attention, Catching Fire marketing executives: you’d better release a shirtless Finnick picture so I can be sure. For research purposes.) I’m more inclined to nitpick this presentation of Katniss: why is her hair so shiny and her bangs so straight and perfect, like a Barbie doll? (It does appear to be the same style braid that she wore in the first film.) Her face looks more angular than usual–how much did they photoshop it? Look at the line between her chin and her neck. And now you can’t stop staring at her huge neck, right? Necks are weird.
The second exclusive picture from EW is also of Finnick and Katniss, but this time it looks like they’re in Tribute training. I thought at first that this was the infamous sugar cube scene, but they would be dressed (or mostly undressed, in his case) in their parade outfits if it were. Still, this picture has that same vibe, with him flirting to tease her and Katniss trying to ignore him and not blush.
“Hello, Katniss,” he says, as if we’ve known each other for years, when in fact we’ve never met.
I mean, this picture looks great for that, but what worries me is the total absence of Peeta in either of these first official pictures. Peeta was what I was most worried about for the adaptation of the first book, and he was only okay in the film, which is a problem because–spoiler alert–Peeta Mellark is THE BEST. Even Katniss thinks so:
In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict. While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me. Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.
“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.
“Yeah, yeah,” I say brusquely. “No question, he’s the superior one in this trio. So, what are you going to do?”
The movies are already off to a bad start doing Peeta’s character justice, and with this marketing it’s like they’re not even giving him a chance. And how many people are going to look at this and think that Sam Claflin is Peeta? If they didn’t read the books, if they only saw the movie once, or if they’re only familiar with The Hunger Games through pop culture osmosis?
I hate that these two images are presenting Finnick and Katniss as a couple. Finnick is an audacious flirt, but he has a true and tragic love, and it’s not with the Girl on Fire. It was already annoying that they tried to market Katniss-Gale-Peeta as a Twilight-esque triangle when deciding between two boys is so not the bulk of her dilemma or even something that she’s willing to spend time thinking about. She’s preoccupied with, oh, I don’t know, little things like providing for her family, protecting her sister, staying alive, resisting tyranny, trying to make the self-sacrifices that don’t come naturally to her. And Finnick turns out to be much more complex than the superficial sex-symbol persona he projects. He’s got his own secrets and form of resistance. The relationship between Katniss and Finnick dances between ally and enemy, not “will they-won’t they,” (unless you end that phrase with “kill each other.”) Meanwhile, the relationship between Katniss and Peeta takes significant steps in Catching Fire, and the total lack of Peeta in either of these pictures is not making me feel confident that the movie will handle him any better this time around. Couldn’t they have at least included him in the second picture, looking jealous, annoyed, or amused in the background?
Why do the people behind this design feel the need to add fuel to the fanfiction, non-canonical fires? “omg, Katniss and Finnick, so hawt together!!!” the easily-persuaded, annoying peripheral fans now scream. NO. STOP IT. Go read the book so you can fall properly in love with Peeta, since apparently the movies aren’t going to give you the opportunity.
**update** Two more pictures have been released, (you can click here to see them at EW.com), and we finally get a glimpse of Peeta. It looks like he and Katniss are on their District tour; I would guess they’re in District 11 and Katniss is looking down at Rue’s family. The way Peeta is looking straight ahead and there’s a gap between him and Katniss is probably good for that scene but it’s not doing anything to combat the Katniss+Finnick implied narrative of the first images. The second new picture is Gale being restrained by two Peacekeepers in the center square of District 12. The Peacekeeper’s uniforms look live they’ve been restyled a little big from the first film, but they still basically look like Stormtroopers.