Geek Girl in Hollywood: Katniss Everdeen is still a complex female character
The trailer for the fourth "Hunger Games" movies just landed, which is a good excuse to talk about the richness of Katniss Everdeen.
The new trailer for “The Hunger Games: Mockingly — Part 2” was just released and it once again reminded me how much I love Katniss Everdeen. Jennifer Lawrence plays her perfectly on screen, but it’s not just the films I love. It’s book-Katniss as well. She defies every stereotype of a heroine we’ve been brought up to know and “love,” and it’s as refreshing as a giant bucket of ice water thrown in my face.
I’m not saying I don’t love other heroines. I do! Katniss is just…different. She’s hard, but not unbending. She’s had to deal with the death of her father, a mother who’s checked out, taking care of her sister, famine and a society that prizes children fighting to the death in an arena for their entertainment.
The thing is, she’s not just hard. She hasn’t turned into one of those kickass chicks we’re shown who become so remote after rape/torture/loss of children/loved ones (insert awful inciting incident here) that they have no feelings left and therefore must be killed at the end, because we can’t hook them up with someone. What guy can handle a chick “harder” than him, amirite? She’s a survivalist, but she still cares deeply about her sister, Rue, her friends and the people she loves. She’s a realistic portrayal of a young woman who has to fight to survive. But she isn’t a robot.
She’s also human in terms of her reactions to things. Your usual hero kills and fights and has no other reaction besides a long-suffering, yet super-sexy look on their face. It never seems to really affect them. Killing is just a thing they do. Katniss (and Lawrence captured this so well in the second film) is absolutely suffering from PTSD, dealing with what it means to actually take another life. She’s dealing with the loss of Rue, her real feelings for Gale, the fake romance with Peeta and what that fake romance is turning into. She’s a mess, as any one of us would be.
That’s the other thing. Like any young woman, she thinks about love and relationships, but like anyone dealing with this sort of unimaginable trauma, she doesn’t always have time for it. It’s not the first thing on her mind. When it is, it’s a product of real time spent together (Gale) and shared hardships, or shared trauma and experiences (Peeta). It’s not just gazing at a pretty guy (Bella Swan from “Twilight”) and thinking you’re not good enough.
Why do I bring this up before the final film? This is the sort of character I’ve been hoping for after years of seeing ciphers and Mary Sues. She’s not there as scene dressing. She’s not a fantasy creature who’s above it all. She’s not damaged goods that can’t go on, though she is indeed damaged. She’s a human being. She’s fully realized. She’s real. Before this franchise ends, I want to know that there are more Katinisses on the way.