After ‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’: These ‘The Hunger Games’ films are a must-see

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“The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes 2” is rather unlikely, but also not necessary. After all, there are other interesting prequels from the world of Panem.

The film adaptation of the prequel novel “The Song of Birds & Snakes” ends ambiguously, just like the original book. While the path of Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is mapped out by the previous “The Hunger Games” films, the fate of Lucy Gray (Rachel Zegler) remains unclear at the end of “The Hunger Games – The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”. Nevertheless, “The Hunger Games 5” is a great prequel whose ending can stand on its own. Since Snow’s future has already been sealed by the original “The Hunger Games” films and Lucy Gray no longer plays a direct role in them, I don’t think a sequel to “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” is necessary.

Part 2 of “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” has not yet been confirmed, but further sequels to the franchise are already being discussed. As a die-hard Panem fan, I would of course like to see a sixth part, both in book form and for the big screen. However, with the original series coming to a close, only another prequel makes sense. Instead of a continuation of Snow’s rise as the cruel ruler of Panem in “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes 2”, however, there are (at least) seven other prequels that need to be told in upcoming “The Hunger Games” films.

Instead of “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes 2”: These 7 prequels are really interesting

With the ‘The Hunger Games’ series, Suzanne Collins created a multi-layered and complex world with lots of interesting characters whose backstories could still be told and filmed in the future. The possibilities of traveling back to Panem’s past are almost endless, but there are some prequels that are already being hotly debated or seem particularly sensible. The wish list of many fans includes, in particular, stories from the past of other popular characters from the original series, who we only get to know for far too short a time in the books and films.

Haymitch Abernathy and the 50th Hunger Games

After 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes': These 'The Hunger Games' films are a must-see

First and foremost, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) should certainly be mentioned. The mentor of Katniss and Peeta from District 12 emerged as the winner of the 50th Hunger Games. The anniversary was special in that twice as many tributes took part in the games. However, as we learned in “Catching Fire”, Haymitch paid for his survival with the loss of his entire family, who President Snow had killed due to Haymitch’s trick with the force field in the arena after his victory. His traumatic past is also the reason for his later addiction to alcohol. In addition to the loss of his loved ones and the trauma of the Hunger Games itself, Haymitch, as the only victor from District 12 since then, had to watch all the tributes from his district die in gruesome ways over the next 23 years.

While we learn some details about the 50th Hunger Games in the book, at least through the eyes of Katniss and Peeta, they hardly play a role in the movie. Aside from Haymitch’s tragic fate, the second anniversary seems tailor-made for the big screen, given that the arena at the time has been described as “the most breathtaking place imaginable”. As well as personal insights into Haymitch’s character and the second Jubilee as an even more gruesome version of the Hunger Games, the prequel could also introduce us to Snow’s cold-blooded methods as President Panem.

Finnick Odair: The youngest winner of the Hunger Games

After 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes': These 'The Hunger Games' films are a must-see

The backstory of Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin), the winner of the 65th Hunger Games and the youngest winner in the history of the Hunger Games, could also be worth telling. The charming tribute from District 4, whom we see for the first time in “Catching Fire”, is not only a fan favorite, but also an important character in the original series as an ally of Katniss and the rebels. His death in “Mockingjay Part 2” is undoubtedly one of the saddest in the entire series. After all, Finnick had just been reunited with the love of his life, Annie (Stef Dawson), and their love story touched fans deeply, not least because of its great tragedy.

Finnick’s past could show us a whole other side to the life of a victor and the moral abysses of the Capitol. Because behind the shiny facade of a popular tribute lies the terrible tale of woe of a boy who was forced into prostitution by the citizens of the Capitol because of his good looks and only kept his silence in order to learn important secrets as a spy for the rebellion and protect his loved ones in District 4. A prequel to Finnick’s past would certainly be quite dark, but could also have romantic overtones through the love story with Annie in the spirit of the original series and better portray the popular character in all his nuances. The connection to the Capitol could also allow us to learn more about President Snow late in his term.

Mags in the 11th Hunger Games

After 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes': These 'The Hunger Games' films are a must-see

Also earning a top spot on the list of saddest “The Hunger Games” deaths is surely Mags Flanagan (Lynn Cohen), who volunteered to take Annie’s place in the 75th Hunger Games and ultimately sacrificed herself in the arena to save her allies. With her kind and honorable nature, Mags earned a special place in our hearts and secretly blossomed into a fan favorite despite her rather small roles.

All we know about her past is that, like Finnick and Annie, she comes from District 4 and was the winner of the 11th Hunger Games. Mags’ selfless behavior in “Catching Fire” naturally raises questions about how she survived her own Hunger Games. However, a prequel could illustrate that even the kindest people will do what they have to in emergency situations in order to survive. Not only in this respect is there a parallel to Lucy Gray, who resorted to rat poison in the Hunger Games to eliminate other tributes. After all, Mag’s Hunger Games directly followed the tenth Hunger Games, which we saw in “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”.

A prequel to Mags could at least tie directly into the events of “The Hunger Games 5” and show us the evolution of Snow’s suggestions for “improving” the Hunger Games and his role as a game maker. Mags also became the first victor to move to the newly founded village of victors in her home district, allowing us to see an exciting development: How did life in District 4 continue for her after everything changed? In addition, the prequel could also show us the Victors’ first tour and, later on, the introduction of the Victors’ mentoring program for their own tributes, thus creating interesting connections to the original series.

Cinna’s backstory is still unknown

After 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes': These 'The Hunger Games' films are a must-see

Another favorite character from the original films is Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who as the stylist of the 74th Hunger Games was instrumental in making Katniss the “girl on fire” symbol of the rebellion. Aside from the fact that Cinna was a Capitol citizen who volunteered to work as a stylist for District 12 and helped Katniss make a stand against the Capitol several times, for which he was eventually murdered, we don’t know much about Cinna’s background. Not even his full name is known.

A prequel could tell us more about Cinna’s life before the 74th Hunger Games and the reason for his dislike of the Capitol’s methods. Not only would this allow us to get to know a beloved character from the original series, but also the Capitol from a new angle and learn more about the inner resistance in the capital.

The first anniversary: The 25th Hunger Games

We know even less about the first Jubilee than we do about Haymitch’s Hunger Games – not even the winner is known. The only thing we’ve been told about the 25th Hunger Games so far is that, unlike in all other Hunger Games, this year the districts had to choose the tributes themselves. Although every jubilee anniversary so far has come up with new, more horrific rules, the 25th Hunger Games had a particularly perfidious cruelty, because the horrific spectacle began with the election of the districts even before the tributes were sent into the arena.

A prequel would be entering completely uncharted territory at this point, but could tell what is possibly one of the most horrific and at the same time most exciting stories from Panem and answer interesting questions. What happens when the districts are forced to decide over the life and death of their own children? Do you want to survive as a victor when your own district has condemned you to death?

The underground rebellion of District 13

After 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes': These 'The Hunger Games' films are a must-see

Despite the “Mockingjay” films, the development of District 13 is still a great mystery. After its supposed destruction by the Capitol in the Dark Days, the population of District 13 continued to survive secretly underground and eventually became the starting point of the second rebellion, which ultimately brought down President Snow with the help of Katniss Everdeen.

But how exactly did the surrender of District 13 through a pact of secrecy with the Capitol actually take place and how did the weakened population, plagued by isolation and disease, become the base of the underground rebellion over the course of 70 years? Along with the question of what it really takes to overthrow a tyrannical government, these topics could be addressed in a prequel to District 13. Through the backstory of District 13, we could also learn more about the largely unknown past of President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and how she first became a leader of the rebellion and later a figure of power and a dangerous threat in her own right.

The Dark Days and the first Hunger Games

After 'The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes': These 'The Hunger Games' films are a must-see

Last but not least, one could of course also return to the origins for a further prequel and tell of the first rebellion and Panem’s civil war between the Capitol and the districts during the Dark Days, from which the first Hunger Games would later emerge. The Dark Days ultimately had enormous consequences for the whole of Panem, but have never been explored in detail and only played a minor role in the plot of “The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”.

A prequel that focuses on the first rebellion of the districts against the Capitol and the very first games could offer a dark and political plot with insights into the history of Panem. For example, it would be interesting to find out what conditions existed in old Panem before the first rebellion, what events specifically triggered the rebellion and the terrible war that ended with an even more terrible subjugation of the districts and finally the introduction of the Hunger Games.

What did the very first Hunger Games look like, what was necessary to implement them politically and socially and how did the districts react to the first staging of this actually unimaginably cruel competition? Perhaps in such a prequel we will also see the young Crassus Snow and his involvement in the invention of the Hunger Games, long before the Dark Days and the first rebellion?

One condition must be met for further Panem films

So the possibilities for further prequels are endless, but the filmmakers have one basic condition for further film adaptations from the world of Panem, which I absolutely agree with: There should only be more films if Suzanne Collins writes another “The Hunger Games” book. I agree with Nina Jacobs and Francis Lawrence: as the producer and director of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, only stories that do justice to the franchise should be told. And that would be the case if meaningful stories worth telling and not just sequels that unnecessarily cannibalize the franchise were filmed.

Suzanne Collins would certainly succeed in coming up with another story about the world of Panem. Perhaps the numerous prequel suggestions circulating from the fan community will inspire the author to (further) develop familiar or new storylines and characters after all? So far, there is no news about a sixth “The Hunger Games” book. But even without another novel, the franchise could be continued, for example by the author writing the screenplay or generally being involved in the production process. There is certainly enough room for further prequel film adaptations in the Panem universe.

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