New Hunger Games Profile Posters Provide New Glimpses With a Capitol Touch

Lionsgate, the company in charge of the new Hunger Games film to be released in March, has just put out a series of striking new posters that each feature one of the story’s major characters, photographed in profile. The images are fascinating, and not just for their surface meaning (Come see this movie! Buy loads of popcorn!). In fact, their underlying meaning is just as riveting as the actors’ distant stares. Follow me after the jump for some overall thoughts on this whole poster campaign and some insights on each one.
“Shine in the Sky and Disappear forever”
My initial reaction on seeing the posters was that they reminded me of the headshots used by the Capitol for the Tributes. These images are displayed with the training scores and are projected onto the sky to show the remaining Tributes who has died. They serve, in Suzanne Collins’s war story, the same purpose as those pictures shown on the evening news, displaying the faces of fallen troops. These shots, so very beautifully done, have the Capitol’s brand of slickness, but they also have a lovely alchemical look with the dark background, lit faces, and flaming Mockingajy insignia. I also find it interesting that we have only first names. While Collins gives some of the Capitol folks first and last names, the stylists and prep teams never have last names anyway, but these single names both create the sense of superstardom given to the Tributes (like single name sports and music celebrities such as Pele and Prince) and create a sense of familiarity. As readers, and now as movie-goers, we are expected to immediately identify, connect with these characters, just as the Capitol viewers connect, or think they do, with the Tributes going to their deaths. Yet, those Capitol viewers do not really know or care about the Tributes. As Katniss notes in her prep team’s reaction to her victory, everything is about them, not the dying children in the arena. So, as we gaze in awe at these images, it is intriguing, and more than a little ironic, to look at what the actors on the posters are displaying about the characters on the page and about what we can expect from the film.

The Katniss poster is the only one with the actor facing right. This sets our protagonist apart from the rest of the cast, just as the character is set apart in her District and in the Games. The image also emphasizes her isolation, just as her steely gaze reflects her hunting prowess and vision. She is in her arena costume, but the skin looks like she’s already had her full complexion buff treatment that wipes away all the scars, and apparently, pores as well. The pose showcases her braid, but it also means the damaged ear, the left one, would be the one turned away from the viewer, so it’s in the dark, a nice touch.

I have been intrigued by the casting of Lenny Kravitz, and this image only adds to my interest. I particularly like the tiny touch of gold eyeliner, per Collins’s description, which also brings in the “fire” motif as well as the alchemy. I just wish we could see the rest of his necklace. Anyone want to make bets on how the rest of it looks? A pearl pendant, maybe?

Josh Hutcherson campaigned for the part of Peeta and really seems to love and understand this role, so I’d agree with his casting if he were 40 and had dreadlocks, but he is really starting to look the part. I like how his nose looks like it might have been broken once. A little swat from Momma, maybe?

As we noted when the first casting announcements came out, the filmmakers are playing with fan expectations and creating clear doppelgangers in their selection of actors for Cato and Clove. In addition to making them look much as we expected Peeta and Katniss to look, they’ve made Cato a lovely (and scary) mirror of Peeta. In addition, as my astute students noted today as we looked at the posters in class, he looks like the Hitler Youth poster boy. Creepy.

Head bowed, rather than a defiant stare, Rue’s pose made my class gasp. Her bare, vulnerable arm also adds to this powerful image, and the lighting plays up her beautiful eyelashes. I actually find myself dreading seeing the movie (as I must) now that we have this image in place. The Rue in my head is still an amalgam of the many Latina young girls I often see around town, but this child may really do something amazing in the role if she can live up to the image here.

Yes, he’s very attractive. He still looks far older than he should, but then, Civil War soldiers often looked 30 when they were 22. Lives like theirs (and Gale’s) age people. He also looks like he’s squinting at something. Katniss on television with Peeta, perhaps?

Obviously, this is cleaned-up Haymitch. I do like the long hair. He looks enough like a washed-up IRA operative or participant in one of the early 20th-century coal mine wars that I think he just might do after all. He does look young, but then, he would only be 41 or 42 at the oldest, and even with the liquor, he’s had it easier than most District 12 residents in terms of living conditions (except when he made his own living conditions awful) He will still need to knock my socks off, but I’ll loosen my shoelaces, just in case.

W-ow. Our “extra-on-the-ground” Jay tells us Reaping Effie has a pink wig, so maybe this delightful lavender number is for later in the story. Elizabeth Banks, who normally looks like a little older Glimmer, has been totally transformed, just like a Tribute herself. Like Hutcherson, Banks begged for her part, so I have high expectations for her portrayal. The make-up, the hair, even that wild boa, all speak volumes of Capitol decadence. I love how her super white skin reflects both artificiality and the fashion of ridiculous paleness embraced by cultures as diverse as the Elizabethans, the Japanese, and the nineteenth-century Americans. Since being pale meant one didn’t have to work hard outside, that pallor was a status symbol. I do like the one dark purple (nightlock color!) flower in the boa, too.

As the film gets closer (these teasers are to grab the holiday filmgoers), we may see additional images. Perhaps they will continue, like these, to reflect both the film’s treatment of the text and its ironic treatment of the very entertainment world from whence it comes.

Comments? Questions? Further insights?


  1. What a terrific analysis/breakdown of these poster photos, Elizabeth! when I saw the initial publicity photo of the actress playing Rue, it was painful, because she looked exactly how I pictured Rue. This poster photo is very moving.

    I pictured Haymitch as a rougher character, but perhaps as coach in the Games, he once again goes through some buffing for the interviews he must certainly endure all through the Games. That hadn’t occurred to me–as with Finnick, it’s never really over for any of the victors, is it.

    The Capital folk wouldn’t want to hurt their eyes looking at ugly, or even ordinary (same thing?) people, would they? Just like us. But this whole film thing and how it’s so entwined with the book themes really gives me brain cramp.

  2. I’m sorry, but I loved the books, and I think the movies might just ruin the francise. I really hope these producers know how to handle this, because personally it isn’t looking too good right now…

  3. First of all…these posters are breath-taking! Cudos to the design team who had the vision to shun chaotic composition and literally zero-in on the characters themselves. They are quite beautiful pieces of photographic art: I anticipate the remaining portraits to be as stunning.

    Second…I agree whole-heartedly with Arabella when she compliments your analysis, Elizabeth. Your insights have aided my HG understanding tremendously. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Really, Prof. Baird-Hardy, you leave very little to say except some expression of gratitude for opening up these pictures as you have! I think the marketers of the film have embraced their dual roles as Cinnas of the cinema and Capitol Gamesmakers, an uneasy combination inevitably becoming ironic and which your notes highlight wonderfully.

    I’d add two things.

    (1) The profile shots or cameos speak simultaneously of incompletion, ‘the side we’re seeing’ which masks and points to the side we don’t see, as well as of another era, when such shots were much preferred for this reason to the full face perspective. Your note about Katniss looking for something else, i.e., in a different direction, is important in this regard, too. She’s the only character whose right side we know.

    (2) I hope you’ll add some of your notes about the clothes they’re wearing along the lines of your Effie attire exegesis. Is there something to the slick single color tees of the young people? Is the black whatever Katniss is wearing a mourning outfit or her ‘girl on fire’ suit? What of Haymitch’s formal attire (Edwardian collar?) and Cinna’s collared shirt?

    Thank you again for this break down — and, in advance, for your continuing work on these Hollywood/Capitol releases!

  5. Nice breakdown. I certainly didn’t think this far, only going as far as “Poor Rue.” and “I love Effie’s poster!”

    Oddly enough, while I didn’t pay much attention to Cinna in the books, seeing Lenny Kravitz here makes me more interested.

  6. Have you sen the Vanity Fair ones that were released a couple of days ago? Here’s a link: I do like how we get to see other characters, but I really hate how they posed Katniss, Peeta and Gale in their “love triangle” shots. We all know that is not what the book is about, but I guess the magazine wants to sell copies, so… Anyway, I feel better about Cato’s casting because I didn’t think he was hulky enough for Cato, but after seeing the Vanity Fair pic, I’m convinced he’ll do.

    I like your comment on Effie’s “nightlock purple” flower and information about the pale skin. That makes perfect sense and neither are things I had thought of before. I always enjoy your insight!

  7. Oops…I forgot the link to the article!
    This is the interactive picture.

  8. Check out this compilation of the Thirteen Templates for Movie Posters here.


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