I wish people would stop calling Divergent a Hunger Games knock-off.
Sure, the two franchises have some similar elements, like an ass-kicking teenage heroine struggling to survive in an improbable dystopia. But the language of “knock-off” and “wannabe” and “copy” is disturbing in that it reinforces this idea that there should only be one popular movie about a girl hero. It’s part of the same screwed-up dynamic that prompts lazy headline writers to ask, “Who’s the next Jennifer Lawrence?” There are already so few on-screen heroines and so few ingenues with mega-success — why does the media always force them into competition with one another? (Lawrence and Shailene Woodley have smartly pre-empted this dumb narrative by talking about their friendship in interviews.)
Meanwhile, there are approximately a bajillion movies about men with big guns, fast cars, and/or superpowers chasing after bad guys. And guess what? None of those are all lumped together just because the protagonists happen to be of the same gender.
Divergent might be exploiting the current fad of YA dystopias on the brink of collapse, but it’s also satisfying a need for more female protagonists and the desire to see stories about girls and women as the center of their stories.
Whatever the case of its appeal, the Shailene Woodley vehicle is poised to become a genuine YA phenomenon. It’s already made nearly $5 million overnight. And Fandango reports that 80% of its weekend ticket sales are for Divergent, while box-office analysts say it’s headed for a $60 million opening weekend. (That’s not too far from the $70 million opening weekend that the first Twilight movie enjoyed — and that spawned four sequels.)
For its part, production on a Divergent second-parter, titled Insurgent, is set to begin in May. Veronica Roth’s books form a trilogy, including the threequel Allegiant.