We said goodbye to Katniss Everdeen with the end of Mockingjay Part 2, but we may not have bid a final farewell to Panem and The Hunger Games film franchise. Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns told Variety that the studio is exploring options for more Hunger Games films but they may not be a continuation of the story that we know. Burns hinted that if the studio does choose to make more Hunger Games films — likely considering the movies are box office gold and beloved by fans everywhere — the new films will be prequels of the original trilogy. Unfortunately, there's one thing that fans love that won't make it into the prequels, and that's Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Lawrence told Variety that it is "too soon" for her to be in another Hunger Games film, and without Katniss, the world is in for some very, very bleak movies.
Obviously it's disappointing for the film's star to bow out of the prequels, even if it's perfectly reasonable — and more logical in terms of story — for her to do so. The problem here is that without Katniss, we're left in a world with very little hope. Let's be honest: the world of Panem is hardly a picnic. The people living in this universe are starving, desperate, and forced to sacrifice their children to appease a tyrannical, cruel government. It's only when Katniss tries to beat the government at its own game that things begin to change. If the new Hunger Games films are prequels to a time where challenging the government was an impossible feat, we're in for movies that are downright depressing.
Burns hints that we are in for movies that revolve around this desperate time in Panem's history. According to the Vice Chairman, part of the appeal of Hunger Games prequels is being able to dive back into the Hunger Games arena, something that, according to Burns, appealed to the younger audience. (It's slightly disturbing that children apparently movies about brutal gladiator games starring children.) If the new movies do dive back into the world of the arena, where's the conflict? We know that it's not until Katniss comes along that any significant change is made, so essentially we're watching the world in turmoil without any hope that something may get better for our characters.
Burns is aware of the issue, and seems to want to make the new prequels more of a social commentary than an all-out blood bath. He told Variety:
Whatever extensions of The Hunger Games brand we pursue, the intent is not to glorify violence by arbitrarily telling arena stories, but to continue Suzanne Collins’s exploration of the concepts of just war theory.
The prequels could certainly make fascinating films, but without the uprising Katniss eventually brings, we may leave the film feeling far more depressed than when we went in.
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