$155 million has a nice ring to it, wouldn’t you agree? Say it with me, one hundred and fifty-five million dollars. That number would be the best opening weekend for a franchise ever and it belongs to Lions Gate Films for The Hunger Games. I am sure Twilight fans are displeased seeing as the first movie only brought home $69.6 million. Still we all can’t help but compare the two movies. Both stem from Young Adult fiction books written by women authors. Both feature a women lead character and a love triangle. However, the similarities begin to stretch a bit after that.
Twilight is set in the present day and tells the tale of Bella Swan, a Human high school girl, who falls in love with a Vampire named Edward Cullen. She’s pulled into the supernatural world not just by Edward but also her friend Jacob Black, a Werewolf, who happens to have feelings for her as well. The majority of the books and movies revolve around Bella being caught between these two supernatural beings as they battle not only for her love but also out of an ancient rivalry between their species.
The Hunger Games is set in the future of the United States now called Panem and features Katniss Everdeen, a girl of 16 years from District 12 who is the sole bread winner for her mother and sister. Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place as Tribute in the annual Hunger Games which pits her against 23 other Tributes from the 12 Districts in a gladiatorial fight to the death, where only one victor can win it all. The movie alludes to her hunting partner Gale Hawthorne having feelings for her, but mostly focuses on Peeta Mellark sharing his feelings, though it is unclear if these are true or just a ploy to win favor in the games.
In the books and movies Bella comes across as a bit, well whiny to be honest. Any time a challenge is presented to her, she runs and curls into Edward’s safe arms and leaves him to deal with the situation after comforting her. She comes across as needy, clingy, childish and in constant need of saving. I started to wonder how Bella survived so long without Edward the further I progressed in the series. It was nice to see her being taken care of by him, but at times Edward seemed very over protective and blinded by his love when making decisions affecting her life.
Katniss on the other hand is hard, independent, and steadfast. She lives in a world where survival is first and foremost and always in constant shadow to the lavish and tyrannical power of the Capitol. Her focus begins with helping her family and later shifts to her own need to live. Her singular focus on survival has blinded her to the world, making her naïve. Piece by painful piece her innocence is stripped bare as she is forced to face harsh truths and the realization that she cannot go back to the way things were. Peeta acts a counter balance, showing her that she does not have to lose her identity or hide behind a stoic exterior.
The love triangle is very clear in Twilight, showing Edward and Jacob as possible suitors. While Bella tends to show more favor and kisses with Edward, she does also care deeply for Jacob. The result of this brings a great deal of fighting between Edward and Jacob to show Bella who is the stronger male. A very animalistic and almost National Geographic version of how Alpha males fight for the female.
With The Hunger Games the love between Peeta and Katniss is very apparent but still the viewer is not sure if it is real or not. Small scenes showing Gale’s reaction to their in Game love are shared, making you wonder if Katniss knows of his feelings. There is no battle here nor is Peeta the clear victor, there is just the inkling that something is brewing beneath the surface.
When it comes to merchandise these two franchises appear to have it all. Everything imaginable from fan books, notebooks, bags, shirts, jewelry, make-up, socks, collectibles, cardboard cut outs, posters, and the list goes on and on. The Hunger Games nail polish collection does appear to have the lead on Twilight’s make-up collection, but Twilight has the lead with collectible dolls.
You can’t make a successful franchise without a huge fan base to get behind it and while Twilight has more women followers, The Hunger Games tends to appeal to both men and women. Twilight fans are deeply passionate and always excited to share their viewpoints for their fandom with you. At times they can be a bit overly devotional and quick to anger if you disagree even on the small points. Hunger Games’ are just as passionate about their fandom, but are also more open to engaging in debate on your feelings. The mood tends to be a lot calmer with The Hunger Games while Twilight feels more frenetic.
For me I found The Hunger Games to be more enjoyable. The story covered a wider range of topics than just focusing on the romance. I personified with both Katniss’s and Bella’s struggles, but I felt Katniss was much more independent and able to pull herself out of any situation while Bella seemed to wallow in them. The Hunger Games told the story with visuals as well as dialogue; it coupled amazing make-up and costumes with subtle special effects and allowed the actors to truly shine. It is also possible my opinion was swayed due to a short scene in the Capitol featuring two pink Borzois.
In all fairness it boils down to one simple thing, what do you, the consumer, prefer? Does the balance and battle of Vampire vs. Werewolf over the romance it ignites call to you? Or the dichotomy of famine vs. gluttony in a battle to the death where star crossed lovers are the victor? You decide.