The upcoming movie “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” is a screen adaptation of the Suzanne Collins book of the same name. The story is a prequel to the main Hunger Games series, but you might be wondering what movies you should watch before seeing this blockbuster (and why).
Do be aware that this article will contain spoilers for the main Hunger Games movie and book series. Consider this your first and last *Spoiler Warning*.
Do You Need to Watch the Hunger Games Movies Before Seeing Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? Answered
The first movie adaptation of the Hunger Games book series came out over a decade ago, meaning even the most die-hard Hunger Games fans from the early 2010s have probably forgotten a few details regarding the story and world.
Since ‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ is a prequel, viewers will likely be expected to remember basic details about the world of Panem. If you want to brush up on your Hunger Games knowledge before going into the new movie, rewatching the old ones is a great way to make sure you catch every detail and essential piece of story-building from the new film.
Every Hunger Games Movie in Order
The original Hunger Games book series has three books that were adapted into a total of four movies: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2. If you’re thinking about rewatching some of the movies but aren’t sure which ones will be the most helpful, here’s a breakdown of each film in the series and why it may be a good idea to watch it again before seeing the prequel.
The Hunger Games (2012)
As the first movie adaptation of the book series, the original Hunger Games movie is a must-watch before Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
While the main cast of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), and the rest of this movie’s tributes obviously don’t make their appearance in the prequel, this movie also serves to introduce the character of Coriolanus Snow. Played by Donald Sutherland here, his character acts as the star of The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, with his younger self Tom Blyth in the new prequel.
It’s also perfect if you feel like you’ve forgotten all of your Hunger Games facts, as it sets the stage and introduces the viewers to the world of Panem. All of the basics of the series’ premise, from the Games to Tributes and the conflicts bubbling beneath the surface.
It’s a great place to start and will give your brain a quick refresh on the world and characters that are key to the series’ premise.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
The second movie adaptation follows Katniss and Peeta after their explosive victory in the 74th Hunger Games, their forced involvement in the next 75th Hunger Games, as well as the rapidly growing rebellion in Panem.
This movie also follows President Snow, exposing an even crueler side of him as he attempts to suppress the rebellion with any means necessary. The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will likely explore many aspects of Panem’s society that made the future rebellion inevitable—as well as how Snow interacted with the world and how that shaped how he eventually led the nation—so.
The interactions between Katniss and Snow during this movie likewise give fascinating insight into Snow’s character, allowing viewers to learn much more about him than they did in the first movie.
If you’re binging the entire Hunger Games series before going into The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, then this movie is essential viewing and will give you a great reminder as to some of the details on Snow’s characters that will be nice to know when going into the prequel.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
Following her rescue from the Quarter Quell in the previous movie, the first part of the final book’s movie adaptations focuses on Katniss after the destruction of District 12.
The movie follows the protagonist’s struggles to adjust to life after the games, her new life in District 13, and her new role as the symbol of the Rebellion. Peeta, meanwhile, has been captured and brainwashed by President Snow.
While this movie focuses on significant plot points regarding Snow, it focuses more on introducing the character of Alma Coin, who serves as the leader of District 13.
It’s also important to note that while Snow is undoubtedly an important character in Mockingjay Part 1, his role is mostly reserved for scenes where he’s seen trying to suppress the rebellion, and character exploration moments stay focused more on the former tributes, residents of District 13, and Alma Coin.
If you want to watch the rebellion unfold, you’ll want to watch this movie. But if you’re more interested in content focusing on Snow as a character, this movie could probably be skipped.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
Mockingjay Part 2 was the last Hunger Games movie released before the upcoming Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.
The final movie follows Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Finnick, and other characters as they attempt to overthrow President Snow and his regime once and for all. It also focuses on Katniss’ final actions as a symbol of the rebellion and the choices she makes for the betterment of the future of Panem. As a finale to the series, this movie wraps the story up nicely, depicting both the end of Panem as we knew it and President Snow himself.
If The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is going to show audiences the beginning of Snow’s character arc, then watching this movie is essential for seeing the end of his arc. The interactions between Snow, Katniss, Peeta, and the rest of the game survivors in this movie are exciting and give some great insight into how the events of the series have impacted all the characters and their values.
If you want to make sure you’re not missing out on any foreshadowing during The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, you’re going to want to ensure you watch the final movie of the main series before diving in.