The Battle Has Just Begun

The Big Picture

  • Katniss and Peeta’s victory in the Hunger Games marks the beginning of a dangerous rebellion against the Capitol.
  • The Capitol is closely watching Katniss and Peeta as potential threats, and Katniss must sell a false love story to survive.
  • The ending sets up a future of uncertainty for Katniss and Peeta, who have different ideas about handling their trauma and relationship.

In The Hunger Games, based on the books by Suzanne Collins, we’re thrust into the world of Panem, a bleak and far too realistic dystopian land set in the distant future. The Capitol, where the wealthy and well-to-do live, is supported by the country’s twelve impoverished and hungry districts filled with workers who are forced to work endlessly to provide the city with the goods and services they need to live their long, lavish, and luxurious lives. We enter the world through the eyes of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) from Panem’s most neglected district: District 12. In order to save her sister Prim (Willow Shields), who is drawn from the collection of names despite the odds actually being in her favor, Katniss is unlucky enough to find herself a tribute in the 74th Hunger Games — an annual event where two tributes between the ages of 12 and 18, one male and one female, are forced to compete in a battle to the death for the Capitol’s entertainment as a reminder of their power and punishment for the districts’ failed rebellion. The other tribute chosen is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a boy from the merchant class who is utterly and madly in love with Katniss, which the two tributes use to their advantage throughout the games.

Throughout the movie, with the genius support of their mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Katniss and Peeta manage to captivate the audience as the star-crossed lovers of District 12. They prepare for the competition with over-the-top events and interviews, plus some vital training sessions. Former Hunger Games victor Haymitch coaches them on how to sell themselves to the audience in hopes of getting sponsors while pointing them toward things they will need to survive. As the pressure intensifies, Katniss and Peeta become more distant from one another (as there can only be one winner), so this star-crossed lovers act can’t last forever. In the arena, after earning the highest training score, Katniss is the target of the Careers’ pack, making her stealth skills a necessity. She’s confused and feels betrayed when she discovers Peeta is working with the biggest threats, as she doesn’t know he is actively trying to protect her, almost dying while doing so after the tracker jacker incident. Katniss later aligns herself with Rue (Amandla Stenberg), which ends with District 1’s Marvel (Jack Quaid) spearing her just as Katniss takes him down with an arrow. It isn’t until the rule change in the midst of the competition, which offers Katniss and Peeta an opportunity to win together, that things really heat up. But, by that time, Peeta is knocking on death’s door. When Katniss eventually finds him, she’s forced to put herself in even more danger to save him and bring them both home.


The Hunger Games

Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Release Date
March 12, 2012

Gary Ross

Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Lawrence, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks


How Does ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie End?

After surviving the so-called feast and successfully getting Peeta’s medicine — thanks to Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) — Katniss returns to their little cavern to heal him and recover from her near-death experience with Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman). When Peeta recovers from his wound, the duo leaves the safety of the cave to find food. Katniss wanders off to hunt game, while Peeta collects edible plants, hoping to regain their strength before a showdown with the remaining tributes. However, when a cannon is fired, Katniss anxiously rushes back to where she left Peeta, crying out his name and receiving no answer in return. She finds a pile of berries, recognizing them as deadly nightlock, before finding Peeta carrying more of the berries. She hurriedly pushes the berries out of his hand and tells him what they are, relieved he’s safe. But, who died? After the shock wears off, they find Foxface (Jacquelyn Emerson) dead nearby with the berries in her hand. Turns out she had been following Peeta and died because she overestimated Peeta’s knowledge. Before leaving her body, Katniss pockets the remainder of Foxface’s berries and suggests it could be a method of taking Cato (Alexander Ludwig) out too.

Much to Snow’s Dismay, Katniss and Peeta Both Win the 74th Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson standing in front of each other in The Hunger Games
Image via Lionsgate

With only Cato and Thresh standing in the way of being crowned as victors, Peeta and Katniss wander through the forest as the world around them turns to night despite it being only about noon. At once, they are aware that Gamemakers are ready for things to end. They cautiously work their way through the woods and hear Thresh being mauled in the distance. A cannon fires and his face is projected in the sky, leaving only Cato. Now alert to the “grand finale,” Katniss and Peeta continue on, but soon find themselves chased by mutts until they reach the cornucopia in the center of the arena and climb on top. Without a moment to relax, a struggle ensues. Cato grabs Peeta, putting him in a headlock, and prepares to make his final kill. He’s hopeless, realizing what a fool he was for thinking anyone ever “wins” the games. Before he can kill Peeta, Katniss and Peeta work together to push him off into the mutts’ grasp, where they begin to maul him. Katniss shoots Cato with one of her arrows, putting him out of his misery. However, when they aren’t immediately crowned as the victors, the announcer explains that the earlier change about two tributes winning if they’re from the same district has been rescinded. Peeta explains to Katniss that she should kill him, proving once and for all how much he loves her, and that they need their winner. Katniss disagrees and shares the nightlock with Peeta, asking him to trust her. They lift the berries to their mouths, but the threat of killing themselves and leaving no victor is too much.

Katniss and Peeta are announced as the victors, meaning they get to return home and put these awful memories behind them. Or so they thought. After the competition, as The Hunger Games movie comes to a close, Haymitch gives Katniss a much-needed reality check about how the Capitol is unhappy with her for showing them up. She explains that she isn’t very happy with the Capitol either, but Haymitch pleads for her to understand the severity of what she’s done. Meanwhile, Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) is led into a room by armed guards, which is locked behind him. In the room is a bowl of nightlock berries, implying the Capitol is also furious at him for allowing Katniss to show them up. Back with Katniss, Haymitch coaches her about what to say and how to act, telling her to explain away her act with the berries as temporary insanity due to her undying love for Peeta, which is exactly what she does in her post-game interview with Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci). On the train home, Katniss suggests they try to forget what they’ve been through, but Peeta declares he doesn’t want to forget, showcasing how strong his love is for Katniss and how desperately he wants her to feel the same. Then, they are welcomed back to District 12 by a cheering crowd. Meanwhile, back in the Capitol, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) seethes as he watches their homecoming before ominously leaving the control room.

What Does the Ending Mean?

Image via Lionsgate

Though Katniss and Peeta survived the games, they are in more danger than ever. Particularly Katniss, as she is the one being blamed for the stunt with the nightlock. The Capitol is watching them closely, as they have the potential to become a major threat. What Katniss did in the arena has already begun to cause rebellion. After Rue’s death, Katniss carefully lays her to rest by covering her in flowers. Then, we see the people of District 11 outraged and fighting back against the Peacekeepers, spilling food and blood until an army of Peacekeepers marches in to stop them. That small act caused such a major quake, but the berries and dual winners are an even bigger deal. Never before has someone defied the Capitol so proudly and on such a public stage. (And, given what we learn in the prequel, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, it makes perfect sense why Snow feels so threatened by Katniss and her rising star.)

In short, Katniss has started something that has already become so much greater than her and the actions she is actually responsible for. She has tipped the scales in the direction of hope for the people, proving that it is possible to defy the Capitol. As Haymitch suggests, Katniss has to sell the besotted schoolgirl act if she even hopes to survive the coming days — something she seriously struggles with in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. As for Katniss and Peeta, the ending doesn’t make much of an effort to explain how things will advance in their relationship. For better or worse, they are tied together, but they have very different ideas about how to handle the trauma they have just endured and what blossomed in the midst of it. It definitely does well at teasing what is to come, preparing Katniss and Peeta to be put through the wringer again.

Get a Glimpse at the Early Days of Panem With ‘The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

While Katniss and Peeta’s story continues in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2, the prequel film The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, takes the audience back to the early days of this version of Panem and a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) before he has become the nation’s leader. Here, the people of the Capitol are about to mark the tenth anniversary of the Hunger Games, which are nowhere near the beloved event they have become by the time that Katniss and Peeta compete. And, as we come to see, the Capitol has always been fond of changing the rules to increase intrigue and interest. As part of their schooling, Snow and his classmates in the Capitol are each assigned a tribute to guide throughout the competition with the hope that they will manage to get the Capitol’s citizens more invested in the fight, making it more of a success moving forward.

Much to his displeasure, Snow is assigned District 12’s Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), considered the weakest and least likely to win of the bunch. Without giving any major spoilers, the story follows Snow and Lucy Gray as their futures become entangled because they are, quite literally, depending on one another to move forward with their lives. The story takes unexpected turns, showcasing a different side of Snow than we see in the original films, especially through his relationship with his cousin Tigiris (Hunter Schafer). It’s an origin story for the ages, which will keep you hooked from the very start. That said, the prequel also succeeds where most do not in telling a story that complements what came before. The most thrilling part is to see that in no way does the story try to humanize Snow, but instead depicts exactly how he becomes (or always was) the monster we see face off against Katniss after decades of unspeakable acts.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is now in theaters. The Hunger Games movies are currently streaming on Peacock.

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