Forgive me, but I desperately need to talk to the internet about Entertainment Weekly’s new Catching Fire cover.
I mean, it’s not just that I’m a huge fan of The Hunger Games and that I watch the film every two weeks on DVD, or that I’ve ranted twice now to my mom about how unrealistic it is that the children of Panem grow up in a world where it’s likely they’ll be sent to kill each other on television and their parents never think to even teach them how to build a fire and not eat poisonous berries (that doesn’t seem realistic, right?? I get that the careers have an academy, but didn’t any of the District 7 kids have a talk with their mom or dad or uncle one night about how to tie their shoes and brush their teeth and run far, far away from the Cornucopia??).
You already know I think too much about The Hunger Games. I wrote a piece wherein I outlined my survival method in the arena by using Razzle Dazzle. But this cover has got my brain working overtime. Why? Because this cover reveals our first look at a majorly mythic part of The Hunger Games saga that comes from District 4 and is incredibly sexy.
That’s right. Finnick’s trident.
Oh, you thought I was going to say Finnick? Oh no. You already knew I was going to say, “Finnick’s Trident”, because that’s the title of the piece. Right.
Well, here’s the thing, I really, really love that Finnick has a trident. The whole District 4 way of fighting with a net and trident is cool to me because I am a nerd for Roman history. Allow me to geek out about ancient Roman gladiatorial games for a moment and explain that in Ancient Rome, when people were tossed into an arena of death for the public’s enjoyment, they were called gladiators and they were often given a “type”, which meant they were given a themed costume and a particular weapon suited to that theme with which to fight one another.
A lot of the gladiators had swords and spears and knives, but the Retiarius was a really popular type that didn’t have a typical soldier’s weapon. Retiarii had the weapons of a fisherman: a dagger, a fishing net and a trident. When I first learned about this, I laughed out and then felt sorry for all the poor Retiarii who died two thousand years ago for Roman entertainment because all they had were tridents.
The thing is, the Retiarii didn’t always lose. They threw the net on their opponents to ensnare them and then when their opponents couldn’t move, they, uh, went all stabby with the tridents and killed the usually bigger and buffer dudes with spears and swords. The Retiarii were considered the “pretty boys” of the gladiator world. They were often underdogs and they didn’t wear armor or conceal their faces, which made them more popular to women.
Basically, Finnick Odair’s fighting method in the Hunger Games (he won at 14 by being an attractive underdog who wooed his way into a sponsor’s heart enough to merit a trident–he then created snares for the other tributes, trapped them and went all stabby with the trident), is a nod to this now obscure footnote in Roman history.
WHY ISN’T EVERY CONVERSATION ABOUT FINNICK ODAIR ABOUT THIS?!?!
Anyway, I love Finnick’s trident and what it symbolizes in the context of world history. So, I was really nervous to see how the filmmakers would capture it. I mean, what if they got my sexy trident wrong?
See, Finnick’s trident has always looked a certain, sexy way in my mind and I was worried that if the filmmakers didn’t somehow find a way to look into my brain, recreated Finnick’s trident exactly the way I imagined it and how no one else did, then it would ruin the movie altogether. I mean, who cares what the filmmakers think Finnick’s trident should look like. THE MOVIE HAS TO BE AN EXACT REPLICA OF WHAT THE BOOK LOOKED LIKE IN MY MIND.
But obviously, all those thoughts I had turned out to be silly.
As you can see on the cover, that trident is pretty cool looking, but it’s not at all how I imagined it. It looks nothing like tridents from Ancient Rome. Furthermore, I’m not entirely sure it’s a trident because it looks like it has at least four points, and tridents can only have three.
Will this ruin Catching Fire? No. Films aren’t ruined when one detail of an adaptation turns out differently than how it’s depicted in the book. Films are ruined when the story is lacking and the actors are bad, and with J. Law and Philip Seymour Hoffman leading the cast, it’s tough to imagine that the film will suck completely.
Will it be my Catching Fire? No. My Catching Fire would ideally shuck most of the first half and focus on the Quarter Quell and the back stories of all the returning tributes, but that’s not going to happen because that’s not how Suzanne Collins wrote the book and it’s not how Hollywood is making the film. It’s how I saw the story in my imagination and that’s so personal that no film will ever match it, and no film can ever take those images away from me.
So, I’m cool with Finnick’s trident not being how I envisioned it. And I’m cool with the fact that Peeta’s shorter than Katniss. And I’m totally willing to give Sam Claflin a chance to wow me as Finnick, even though he looks slighter than I envisioned him in my oh-so-precious imagination.
And actually, even though it’s not what I envisioned at all, it looks pretty cool.
Featured image and image of Finnick and Katniss via Entertainment Weekly.