Releasing 8 years after the original Hunger Games series concluded with Mockingjay Part 2, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is a world-expanding prequel for the nation of Panem. The film follows a young Coriolanus Snow 64 years before he would eventually become the tyrannical president of Panem, and sees him as a young mentor for the 10th annual Hunger Games. Tasked with taking care of female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird, the duo soon form a bond that goes beyond the game and beyond their class divide.
Outside the few characters from the original films, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes provides a great number of new and compelling characters that help flesh out the world and themes of The Hunger Games as a whole. Especially for a franchise that features a great deal of iconic and memorable characters, it’s a major feat to be able to introduce an entirely new slew of interesting and entertaining characters into the fray without taking away from the strengths of the original series.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows a young Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) — the last hope for the once-proud Snow family — who is reluctantly assigned to mentor Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), a tribute from the impoverished District 12 for the 10th Hunger Games. Snow sets out on a race against time to survive and reveal if he will become a songbird or a snake.
- Release Date
- November 17, 2023
- Francis Lawrence
- Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Viola Davis, Tom Blyth, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, Burn Gorman, Fionnula Flanagan
- 165 minutes
Played by Irene Böhm
Lamina is the female tribute from District 7 during the 10th Hunger Games, being one of the standout tributes focused on during the film. Her character is shown to be on her lonesome during the majority of the games, having a small stakeout spot of height advantage on a large pillar, after putting the attempted escapee tribute from District 2, Marcus, out of his misery. Her mercy killing gives her enough benefit from the capitol’s people to make her the first recipient of a sponsor gift in the history of the Hunger Games.
While not a major player in the overarching narrative of the film, the Hunger Games films always feature a number of key small roles of innocent young children to hammer home the series’ dreadfully painful premise. Lamina is one of the primary showcases of the franchise’s main themes, as they are not only a victim of the violence and bloodshed shown throughout, but even take it into their own hands to end the life of another person, even if only a mercy killing.
9 Clemensia Dovecote
Played by Ashley Liao
Clemensia Dovecote is a female resident of the Capitol and a student of the Academy alongside Snow and the other students during the 10th Hunger Games. As a part of the new ruling and experimentation surrounding the games, she is one of the students forced to be a mentor for one of the tributes, being chosen to mentor the District 11 male, Reaper. Clemensia is also a frequent academic collaborator of Snow, and joins in at the last minute during his requests for changes in the games and the tribute system.
Clemensia plays a more major part in the first act of the film, before the games actually start, as an important classmate and parallel to Snow and the other students adapting to their mentorship role. She specifically is at the center of one of the most stand-out moments of the first act, when she attempts to take credit for Snow’s debrief on the new system, and is forced to stick her hand in a pit of dangerous rainbow snakes. She continues to make appearances during the games in support of Reaper, but takes a back seat to more major players in the story.
Played by Mackenzie Lansing
Coral is the female tribute from District 4 during the 10th Hunger Games, and immediately stands out as one of the deadliest tributes competing in the games. It does not take long before Coral begins forming an alliance with which to take control and win the entire game, becoming one of the last survivors of the 10th Hunger Games and leading the charge with a number of kills. Coral fulfills a similar role to that of Cato in the first film, being the penultimate and final tribute to be taken down and the overall favorite to win the game.
Coral shows that even in the early years of The Hunger Games, there are always tributes who go about the process with a ruthless and cutthroat demeanor, doing everything to survive the games. If not for the cheating that Snow partakes in order to have Lucy Gray survive the games, it’s highly likely that Coral ends up being the final survivor of the games, but she ends up still dying at the hands of the dangerous snakes that are sent into the arena during the final day.
7 Tigris Snow
Played by Hunter Schafer
One of the few characters to have actually been in the original Hunger Games movies, Tigris Snow is the cousin of Coriolanus Snow and lives alongside him and their grandmother in the Capitol. She acts as one of the major motivators for Snow’s success at the Academy and in The Capitol as a whole, as he desires his family to be able to live in well-off conditions and not be evicted. However, as Snow becomes more and more enthralled and involved with the ruthless nature of the games, Tigris makes it known that he is drifting farther and farther away from the Snow she grew up with.
For a character who only had a minimal role in the original series, Hunter Schafer does a tremendous job in giving the character many additional layers of depth and nuance as it relates to her relationship with Snow and the rising Capitol state. As an always looming and important part of Snow’s life, it’s nice to see a directly positive impact on his life and growth at an early age, and it makes for an especially interesting dynamic when considering the state of the character in the main series.
6 Lucretius ‘Lucky’ Flickerman
Played by Jason Schwartzman
Lucretius Flickerman, most commonly known by his nickname Lucky Flickerman, was a simple weathercaster for the Capital who attained the opportunity to become the first-ever host of the Hunger Games for the 10th Hunger Games. Being the first person to ever fulfill the role of the host, Lucky sets the more optimistic and comedic tone that future hosts would parallel, using his signature stage presence to make the games more exciting for the audiences at home.
While it would be difficult for any actor to follow up the role of Hunger Games host that Stanley Tucci‘s Caesar Flickerman accomplished in the original series, Jason Schwartzman does a pretty great job playing Caesar’s ancestor, Lucky. While Caesar was always in control and a perfect stage presence host in the original, the more amateur and awkward performance that Lucky provides makes for a great dark comedic angle throughout the film. Even before the actual games take place, his often appearances during the interviews and preparation for the games make him a highlight among Capitol citizens.
5 Casca Highbottom
Played by Peter Dinklage
Casca Highbottom is the Dean of the Academy as well as being the man credited for the invention and creation of te Hunger Games as a whole, being the public face of the event when it was first announced. However, since the games’ invention and implementation, Casca has been on a seemingly endless downward spiral as he regrets his involvement with the games, and wishes nothing more than for the games to end once and for all.
Casca is a fascinating and multifaceted character in the Hunger Games universe, as he starts off the film as a seemingly uncaring antagonist for Snow’s goal of reaching the upper class. However, by the end of the film, more and more is unveiled and revealed about the truth behind his character’s motivations and thoughts on the Hunger Games as a whole, putting his actions from a completely different perspective.
4 Sejanus Plinth
Played by Josh Andrés Rivera
Sejanus Plinth is a Capitol citizen and Academy student who was formerly a citizen of District 2, before having his family join the capitol following his father’s massive success in weapon manufacturing. Having the perspective of both a Capitol citizen and a district citizen, he’s highly against the Hunger Games as an institution, making it all the more painful when he has to mentor a former friend from District 2, Marcus. Sejanus soon forms a bond with Snow, as the duo are two of the only people openly attempting to stop the relentless killing in the games.
Sejanus is easily one of the most unique and powerful new characters to be introduced in the film, providing a great deal of perspective between both the Capitol and districts rarely seen in the series. Especially when the vast majority of characters who went from the Districts to the Capitol have abandoned their District side, seeing Sejanus as a young, angry revolutionary is highly engaging to watch on screen. He’s a character that, of all the new characters introduced, most effectively and closely hammers home the series’ themes of greed and class divide.
3 Dr. Volumnia Gaul
Played by Viola Davis
Dr. Volumnia Gaul is the Head Gamemaker of the 10th Hunger Games, as well as a notable instructor at the University that Snow and the other classmates wish to attend after graduation. She is also the figurehead behind the Capitol’s experimental animal-based weaponry, which is seen both throughout this film and the entirety of the Hunger Games franchise. She is a character that has the greatest understanding and vision of what the Hunger Games can be and why it exists in the first place, seeking to evolve it with the help of Coriolanus Snow.
As one of the primary antagonists of the film, there is a great deal of influence that Gaul’s methods and ideology has upon Snow, as he uses a number of her tactics by the end of the film to get his way. She is a commanding and undeniable force and presence throughout the majority of the film, slowly enticing and pushing Snow toward his darker, more animalistic, and primal traits. The character is constantly making an impact on the audience thanks to the powerful performance from Viola Davis, who truly dives into the fractured psyche of the character.
2 Coriolanus Snow
Played by Tom Blyth
The young, more innocent version of the main antagonist of the entire Hunger Games franchise, Coriolanus Snow is given much more perspective and understanding throughout this film, showing how he got to the way he was in the original series. His major changes come in the form of his connection as the mentor of tribute Lucy Gray Baird, as their connection and bond prove to go beyond the games itself, with Snow going out of his way to do whatever he can to make sure that Lucy Gray survives the games.
For a character that was mostly considered nothing more than a one-note tyrannical villain in the original series of films, Tom Blyth‘s portrayal of Coriolanus Snow provides much greater insight and depth to the character. The film as a whole does a great job of painting the greater picture of the loss, struggles, and motivations that led to Snow becoming the ruthless ruler he would eventually become. It makes for a much more heartbreaking and emotional story where even the worst of people can have genuine beginnings with honest motivations and good intentions.
1 Lucy Gray Baird
Played by Rachel Zegler
The film’s star tribute and the love interest for Coriolanus Snow, Lucy Gray Baird is the female tribute from District 12 during the 10th Hunger Games, and much like another iconic District 12 female, is defined by her rebellious nature and exhilarating star power. Her singing ability immediately makes her a notable figure during the games and is used strategically by Lucy Gray and Snow in order to further her status and donations in the game. While their relationship is originally nothing more than mentor and student, Lucy Gray and Snow soon find themselves sharing a deep and powerful bond beyond the game.
Lucy Gray Baird acts as the original predecessor to Katniss, as she shares similar headstrong attributes that make her an excellent star in the Hunger Games. What especially makes her such an exciting character to watch on screen is her evolution and change throughout the film, having to toughen up to survive not just the games, but Snow’s overarching schemes. She’s a character who leaves a lasting impact not just on the audience, but on Snow himself, as a great deal of Snow’s villainy in the main series can be attributed to his experiences with Lucy Gray Baird.
NEXT: 10 Most Underrated ‘The Hunger Games’ Characters, Ranked