The dystopian world of Panem is set to make its cinematic return in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. This begs an obvious question: do you need to watch the other films in The Hunger Games series before seeing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?
Set half a century before the events of the other films in the series, The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes tells the origin story of one of the most important characters in The Hunger Games mythos: Coriolanus Snow. As is always the case with prequels, one could argue that you don’t need to watch previous The Hunger Games films before The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes. Let’s settle the debate, shall we?
Do You Need to Watch The Hunger Games Series to Understand The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes?
You don’t technically need to watch The Hunger Games movies before watching The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, but I’d personally recommend that you do. The Hunger Games trilogy is leagues better than most other high-budget cinematic adaptions of best-selling young-adult dystopian novels. As a massive fan of The Hunger Games books, I highly recommend watching them if you’re one of the many kids who read YA dystopia books growing up.
Outside of the simple pleasure of watching great adaptions of already-fantastic books, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is chock-full of world-building that helps explain why the world of Panem is the way it is by the time The Hunger Games series begins. The film explores how the titular juvenile gladiator tournament at the heart of the series came to be while also revealing how the series’ primary villain used the bloody spectacle to facilitate his rise to power.
Trailers for The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes have already hinted at some of the ways the film alludes to the film set after it, so it’s probably safe to assume that the film itself will feature plenty of references to other characters and events within the series. If you love to comb through films for easter eggs to other movies, you’ll want to watch the rest of The Hunger Games films before you see The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.
What is The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes About?
The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes recounts the origins of Coriolanus Snow, who one day becomes the president of “The Capital,” the authoritarian city-state that governs Panem. Desperate to restore his aristocratic family to its former glory, Coriolanus agrees to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, one of two tributes from District Twelve set to compete in the 10th Annual Hunger Games.
Despite their radically different backgrounds and beliefs, Coriolanus and Lucy form a strong bond as they work to ensure that Lucy wins (aka survives) the Hunger Games. However, as the pressure to transform the Hunger Games into a symbol of the Capital’s power mounts, Coriolanus is forced to make choices that, ultimately, see him begin his transformation into the grizzled monster that The Hunger Games fans meet at the end of the first book.
- This article was updated on November 14th, 2023