What The Hunger Games SHOULD Have Looked Like In The Movies

WARNING: SPOILERS ACROSS PANEM. This list discusses The Hunger Games books and the movie adaptations. So if you’re not caught up, this is your friendly Mockingjay whistle to return when you've read the books and watched the films.   

How are The Hunger Games movies different than the books? Several characters look different and a few story lines may have changed, but the film producers did the smart thing and allowed the books’ author, Suzanne Collins, to consult and collaborate on the adaptation. Still, it’s always difficult to pack all of the book's material into a feature film (or four). There's bound to be some obvious missteps. Still, if you love the movie regardless, be sure to also check out more shows and movies like The Hunger Games.

When it comes to Hunger Games book vs. movie discussions, it’s easy to forget the challenges of casting. An actor may look exactly like a book character, but this series requires lots of action, emotional range, and the ability to convey Collins’s intent across three books - not an easy job when there are die hard fans waiting for you to trip up. Fortunately, Collins was part of the audition process, and the search was exhaustive and intense (except for the lazy casting of Buttercup in the first film).   

In the books, we are experiencing Katniss’s story through her first person narration. In the screen versions, there is no narration. That gave the filmmakers the opportunity to feature other aspects of the story, and to take some license with the characters' looks. This can be frustrating for book fans, while giving those new to the Hunger Games trilogy a more complete idea of the story.  

While the filmmakers got a lot of the casting right (Gale, Prim, Cinna, Rue), they sometimes made some out-of-the box choices. What do you think? How were The Hunger Games books different than the movies? What did they get right? What is your biggest beef? Was Donald Sutherland’s President Snow up to snuff or just not snakey enough? What about the casting of Amanda Plummer and Jeffrey Wright as Wiress and Beetee?

Let us know in the comments and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

  • Peeta Mellark in the Movies: Brown-Eyed and Able-Bodied
    Photo: Lionsgate Films
    Hutcherson’s casting is pretty close to the books, except maybe for the length of his hair and his brown eyes. Oh, and onscreen Peeta has all of his limbs, he’s just lost his mind at the end of Mockingjay Part 1
  • Peeta Mellark in the Books: Minus One Leg

    Peeta Mellark in the Books: Minus One Leg
    Photo: Paul Rosales/Ranker / Lionsgate Films
    In the book, Peeta has his leg amputated after infection sets in from the Games. Also, book Peeta has blue eyes. Peeta is described in the book as “medium height, stocky build, ashy blond hair that falls in waves over his forehead.” 
  • President Snow in the Movies: Scary Donald Sutherland
    Photo: Lionsgate Films
    Donald Sutherland is an attractive villain on screen and he uses his white hair and beard to full effect. But he’s definitely not the book Snow, with his weird mouth and snake-like features. Despite his toned-down look, maybe Sutherland is creepy enough with this roguish version of Snow, because did we really want to see the Voldemort version for four films? Maybe?
  • President Snow in the Books: A Snake-Human
    Photo: Paul Rosales/Ranker / Lionsgate Films

    The book version of President Snow is strikingly different than the screen version. The literary character is described as “a small, thin man with paper-white hair,” with thick lips that are stretched across his face. His appearance is snake-like.

    According to the books, as Snow poisoned his enemies, he had to drink some of the poison himself. He took an antidote, but he was not cured of the sores the poison left behind. He had surgery to fix his weird mouth, but it still looked weird. He wears genetically engineered roses to cover the smell of blood in his mouth. Creepy (and gross).
  • Caesar Flickerman in the Movies: Extravagant, Yet Understated
    Photo: Lionsgate Films

    Stanley Tucci’s Caesar is decidedly more understated than the book version. His makeup is apparent, but doesn't totally live up to the over-the-top custom of the Capitol, or the way he's described in the books.

    Yet somehow, Tucci captures the ghoulish media bloodsucker without all of the ornamentation. 

  • Caesar Flickerman in the Books: The Neon Media Ringleader
    Photo: Paul Rosales/Ranker / Lionsgate Films

    Caesar’s probably been injecting embalming fluid because he has changed little over the 40 years of his broadcast career. Katniss describes him this way: “Same face under a coating of pure white makeup. Same hairstyle that he dyes a different color for each Hunger Games. Same ceremonial suit, midnight blue dotted with a thousand tiny electric bulbs that twinkle like stars. They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner.”  

    For the 74th Hunger Games, Caesar went blue. “Caesar’s hair is powder blue and his eyelids and lips are coated in the same hue. He looks freakish but less frightening than he did last year when his color was crimson and he seemed to be bleeding.”