O Peeta, Where Art Thou?

In my absence, Peeta has become the topic of the week! Not that we blame our brilliant guest writers, of course! There’s just so damn much to say about the future Mr. Katniss Everdeen!

Today, Hunger Games Bookclub is taking the reins to take about the Peeta we know from the books and the first movie vs. the Peeta we’re going to get in Catching Fire and beyond!

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I hate to break it to you, but there are multiple Peetas running around out there. It all started when The Hunger Games was first published. This version affectionately has been termed Book!Peeta. As soon as you read THG, another alternate version came into existence… the Peeta that lives inside of your mind. Let us call that Imagination!Peeta. Once the movie of The Hunger Games was released in 2012, we had a third version alive and kicking: Movie!Peeta

Sometimes there was conflicts between these three versions of Peeta. People couldn’t understand why Movie!Peeta didn’t have the blue eyes of Book!Peeta. Folks were heartbroken that their Imagination!Peeta had a real life name of (the guy from Weeds, the guy from Vampire whatever, the guy from you fill in the blank) but that person wasn’t hired as Movie!Peeta. And Josh Hutcherson had brown eyes and movie magic blonded hair instead what Book!Peeta described. If you have been around THG fansites at all, Victor’s Village included, you will know that fans get quite passionate about who they believe Peeta should or should not be.

Just look at that babyface!

Just look at that babyface!

Here’s the rub: Coming November 2013, there will be another Peeta to add to the mix. I know, I know, Josh Hutcherson is playing the role of Peeta in both movies. However, there are some other significant differences between the two films. The CFMovie!Peeta, as I shall now dub him, comes from a script that is written by a completely different team than THGMovie!Peeta. Although Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross both expressed their pleasure at working together to write The Hunger Games screenplay, they also expressed how difficult it was to take a book and adapt it into the visual format and time constraints of a movie. This go-around, we have a script written by Michael Arndt, who has won an Oscar for adapting books into screenplays. The Catching Fire movie will also have a new director: Francis Lawrence. Fans have already seen the upgrade in costumes and some of the other visual aspects in the teaser trailer that was released recently. We’ve also heard from interviews with cast and F-Law that there were some parts of the first movie that he wanted to maintain and others to which he adjusted to his own personal vision for the series. He has already been hired to direct Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 as well, so we can expect continuity in his vision across the films. Francis Lawrence brings more to the table than the visual. For example, Woody Harrelson commented that Lawrence encouraged him to research Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for his character. Most fans agree that the signs are pointing toward Catching Fire having more depth in some of the themes of poverty and war.

The innocence is gone.

The innocence is gone.

So what does this mean for Peeta’s character? Will the Peeta in Catching Fire have more depth to his character as well? Obviously, we won’t know until November. But I can tell you from reading countless comments on popular fansites about THGMovie!Peeta, that he did not come across to some viewers (especially those who had never read the books) with the emotional strength and verbal savvy that we attribute to Book!Peeta. In the books, Peeta is not known for his physicality as much as Gale (although Peeta can lift heavy sacks of flour and hold his own in hand to hand combat) but is a person who is known for his quick brain and smooth tongue.

When I first saw pictures of Peeta from the Catching Fire teaser trailer, I immediately noticed the determined set of his jaw, the simmering anger, and the grimness. Perhaps CFMovie!Peeta will be different. Stronger. A bit jaded.

Maybe If The Odds Are In Our Favor, We’ll Catch A Glimpse Of That Peeta In Our Imagination,
Hunger Games Bookclub

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7 comments

  1. Wow HGBC, way to wade into the troubled waters! It’s interesting that you comment that the CF trailer shows a Peeta with a “simmering anger” and a “grimness”, since it seems many Peeta fans thought that CFMovie!Peeta’s initial shocked reaction to the old man being shot in D11, as well as his asking Haymitch “what do we do now?” are signs that even this version of Peeta is lacking in terms of the “emotional strength”, and going to be shown as a puppydog-like sidekick just following Katniss around and not really contributing to the team.

    There’s also seems to be a fear among Peeta fans, that Gale will be showcased much more in CF than he should be, and that he will be shown as the stereotypical Handsome Rebel with a Cause who challenges and inspires Katniss, and that Peeta will pale in comparison, and that the movie-only fans will wind up scratching their heads wondering why in the world Katniss would ever choose Peeta over Gale..

    I personally think that you can’t assume such things from just the trailer, but I know this debate has been heated on many fansites, so I’ll be quite interested to see what others think about this.

    1. Satsuma, to give others credit, I can see how they might interpret some of those snippets differently. We won’t know for sure until the film, and even then, fans won’t agree. I choose to have hope that Peeta’s character will have more depth until I am proven otherwise. It feels a bit hypocritical to think Peeta is a wimp for looking horrified at the beating if an old man but not Katniss. And instead of seeing Peeta as her sidekick frim the trailer, my perspective is that P and K look very much a team, which is consistent with the book, otherwise the big CF cliffhanger where everything changes with Peeta becomes meaningless.

      1. Also, if Gale gets nore screentime, bring it on. He is very important to Katniss, otherwise Mockingjay’s tension between P and Gale, and Katniss eventual choice become meaningless too. However, I say that with the caveat that Peeta must be portrayed as a strong character. CF is the turning piint when Katniss starts to respect him, to admire his ability to move people with his words, to accept his desire to protect her just a little bit. We need to see that shift in her character arc and in his. Cross our fingers, it will be reflected in the film.

      2. Exactly, especially since it’s Katniss who is crying and begging Haymitch for help in the next scene. So by that logic, she’s portrayed as a “wimp” in those scenes. Heck, one could accuse the trailer of portraying her a “wimp” until the scene with Thread. Until then, we see her uncomfortable in front of the District , upset and shocked at the beating of the old man, crying, begging for help, being uncomfortable at a Capitol party and getting creepily touched in passing by a Capitol person, looking scared and uncomfortable in front of Snow, getting smooched on by Gale and having other people try to talk her into being more rebellious, including her little sister.

        But that didn’t stop at least a couple of people speculate that they’re going to make Katniss an invulnerable badass – because Trish Sommerville’s costume for her at the Capitol party reminded them of her costumes for Lisbeth Salander!

    2. The problem with the idea that Gale will be showcased much more than he should be is the definition of how much exactly one thinks he “should be” showcased. The impression I get from many of the posts on the subject is that some fans would prefer it if he wasn’t in the movie at all, but since it’s not possible, that he’s a completely minor character with not much more than the 3 minutes of screentime he had in the first movie. Most of it seems to come from the “Team” mentality, but I still find it odd that Gale’s presence is seen as such a huge threat to Peeta’s screentime or character development or the development of his relationship with Katniss.

      A part of the problem comes from the fact that many people don’t agree with your view that movies are not books on tape with pictures, and the idea that there may be a Katniss/Gale scene in the movie that isn’t in the book sends them into a frenzy and makes them convinced that the only reason for that is Lionsgate’s supposed desire to make Gale a romantic lead. Pointing out that certain changes are necessary because of the nature of the medium because *we don’t hear Katniss’ narration* tend to fall on deaf ears.

      The two scenes that have caused controversy are (SPOILERS):

      – a goodbye scene before Katniss goes to the Arena, mentioned by Francis Lawrence. But Katniss did not get to tell Gale goodbye! How could they change that!
      Few people seem to stop and think how that would work in the movie. In the book, Katniss thinks about saying goodbye to Gale and about things she would tell him – how important he’s been to her all those years, that loving him has made her life better, even if she loved him in her “limited way” rather than the way he wanted her to. In the movie, we would have no clue about any of this since *we are not in her head* and it would just look weird and have no emotional resonance.

      – a brief shot in the teaser trailer of the Hob getting burned, with Katniss and Gale witnessing it. But it was Peeta who was with Katniss in the book! How dare they change that and give that scene to Gale! They are diminishing Peeta’s role!
      Yes, Peeta was with her in the book. And in the book, Katniss was thinking of the Hob as something that didn’t belong to Peeta and that he had little to do with, unlike her and Gale, who had been trading at the Hob for years. Which a movie viewer wouldn’t know, since they’re not in Katniss’ head, won’t see a bunch of scenes with Katniss and Gale both trading at the Hob, probably won’t see flashbacks to their history together, and certainly won’t have Katniss talk at length about her friendship with Gale, so they only way to understand their history and relationship is to actually feature some scenes between Katniss and Gale. And Gale being present together with Katniss while the Hob burns is a perfect opportunity to get across their connection to this place. Which Peeta does not have – but he does have a bunch of other scenes that are more important for him and his relationship with Katniss.

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