The Hunger Games franchise is one of the most iconic film series of all time.
The four films released annually between 2012 and 2015 present a dystopian near future dominated by class divides and its public’s insatiable appetite for violence and cheap thrills. It focuses upon Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she navigates her position as a tribute in the 74th Hunger Games in Panem, what was once North America, before winning and unintentionally becoming the face of a rebellion.
In the universe of the films, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event in which 24 participants (Tributes) are forced to fight to the death until one remains. This competition was enforced by the Capitol (the ruling power of Panem) after the 13 Districts of Panem rebelled against their power. As retribution, District 13 was annihilated, and the 12 remaining Districts must offer up their children into the Hunger Games as a reminder of the cost of insurrection against the Capitol.
One boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each District in a lottery system (the Reaping). They are paraded as if they are celebrities, dressed in high fashion, interviewed on mandatory viewing programmes, before being shipped into a custom-made themed arena in a battle that often lasts weeks.
The Victor is then bestowed a home, riches, and exemption from further participation in the Games, while their District receives additional food for the year following their victory. The Victor will then be placed into a pool of Mentors to support the future Tributes of their District as they navigate their own preparation for the Games.
The Quadrilogy follows Katniss primarily, as she wins her first Hunger Games and manages to survive her second until she is liberated by the Rebellion. Whilst this is ongoing, she is navigating complex relationships with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her two-time District 12 Tribute/Victor counterpart, and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), her childhood friend and closest ally in District 12. Meanwhile, she is trying to keep her family safe, primarily her sister Primrose (Willow Shields), and trying to escape any negative attention from her accidental enemy, President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
In this Movie List from The Film Magazine, we are evaluating the best moments across the four films that cover Katniss Everdeen’s journey from a District 12 Tribute to the figurehead of a revolution. We will be considering the moments that made our hearts stop and kept us on the edge of our seats as we attempt to outline what truly are the most iconic moments of the Girl on Fire and beyond. These are the 10 Best The Hunger Games Moments.
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10. Katniss Adjusting Her Aim to Kill President Coin
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)
The rebellion has ended with the underclass Districts triumphing over the might of the Capitol. The Government of Panem has been overthrown. The end of the Hunger Games, and the end of forced starvation and extreme poverty, is in sight. But Katniss is all too aware of what it has cost her, having witnessed the deaths of her squadron, including Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and brutally, in the last moments of the war, her little sister Prim (Willow Shields). The whole saga started with Katniss trying to save Prim from death, and despite it all she couldn’t save the person who mattered to her the most. Katniss has been charged with killing President Snow (Donald Sutherland), the now dethroned ruler of Panem. President Coin (Julianne Moore), the leader of the Rebellion and now assumed President, announces what is about to happen. Katniss pulls the single arrow from her sheath and takes aim at Snow, before quickly adjusting her aim and shooting Coin straight in the heart. She intends to kill herself with a nightlock pill (crafted from poisonous berries) tucked in her outfit, but Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) stops her in her tracks, allowing her capture and Snow to be torn apart by seething crowds.
This, as the end of the war, is what we’ve been waiting a long time to see. Katniss facing President Snow, finally with her in power. However, her previous discussions with him illuminate the pawn she has been for President Coin. Katniss begins to see that Coin is not trying to overthrow Panem for entirely pure reasons, she wishes for power and is willing to allow the Hunger Games to continue in a differing format. Katniss also comes to learn that Prim died in a trap placed by the Rebels, which also killed many Capitol children, seen as collateral damage by Coin. In this moment, Katniss finally reclaims the autonomy she lost as a pawn for both Snow and Coin. Whilst she becomes an enemy of the nation, Katniss knows she has avenged her sister and prevented another corrupt leader rising in Panem. Katniss never wanted to be the hero, but she still did it. This, Katniss’ final kill, represents the end of her journey as a warrior and a piece in their games. Katniss barely makes a sound, but the weight of her emotion is clear in every small movement she makes. She has nothing to lose, but might be able to change the course of the future with one final shot.
This moment makes the list because of how shocking it is, and the gravity of the situation itself. Katniss, a girl from the poorest part of a poor region, now stands before two Presidents as the most important person in the country. The culmination of the series must be represented in the top 10, only hindered by how much we’ve lost to get to this point, and how painful it is to see Katniss ready to die after losing Prim.
9. Finnick Odair’s Death
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)
In one of the scariest moments of the franchise, Katniss and her elite Capitol invasion squad have descended below the streets of the city to avoid ‘pods’ (traps intended to kill advancing rebels) and increased Peacekeeper (Capitol soldiers) presence. However, the sewers and tunnels beneath the city are not without danger. Snow-white humanoid lizard beasts (created by the Capitol) pursue the group, soon decimating them as they attempt to flee via tight, dark sewer tunnels. Our heroes make a last stand as they attempt to climb out of the sewers, with Katniss and Finnick (Sam Claflin) leading the charge as the most skilled combatants. Finnick manages to save Katniss and takes out countless Mutts as the others escape, ultimately throwing his trident straight through a Mutt to save Katniss as she ascends the ladder. Armed only with a knife, Finnick makes it to the ladder before being dragged underwater to be massacred. Katniss activates a detonation sequence in her Holo (a map loaded with sensitive Capitol info) and uses it to kill Finnick and the Mutts.
Katniss having to mercy kill Finnick is yet another traumatic moment for her and the audience. Finnick’s death represents the hopelessness of the group’s Capitol mission. Finnick is the Victor amongst Victors, beloved by all and a larger-than-life personality. Katniss lied to make this mission happen, and she sees Finnick’s death as yet another that she caused, another weight for her to bear. It could have been avoided if she had only stuck to her original orders of avoiding live combat, but she wished to be the one to kill Snow no matter what. Finnick’s death cuts deep as, by this point, we know he has married his childhood sweetheart, and that in his years post-victory of the Hunger Games he was sex-trafficked by President Snow. He was presented as a symbol of success amongst the Districts but treated only as a plaything by those in charge.
This scene is so iconic for many reasons, the pure shock of Finnick’s death when he has become one of the most beloved characters and revealed many new layers of vulnerability throughout the franchise. As an audience member, you just want to see Finnick finally live a quiet life with his wife, however it is snatched away in a particularly horrifying manner, allowing him no reprieve from the non-stop torture he has faced since the age of fourteen. Finnick’s death remains one of the biggest talking points of the franchise many years on.
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