Teen-Heroine Smackdown: 5 Ways Katniss Is Better Than Bella

In a contest between The Hunger Games and Twilight, Katniss reigns supreme

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From left: Murray Close / Lionsgate; Andrew Cooper / Lionsgate

Jennifer Lawrence, left, and Kristin Stewart

With the second film in the Hunger Games series set to premiere this weekend, it’s tempting to throw The Hunger Games and Twilight series into the same category. Of course, comparisons were made last year when the Hunger Games destroyed Twilight’s box-office record, and they will surely be made again as the new movie opens.

The similarities are there: they’re both young-adult novels turned movies with rabid fan bases. They both include a love triangle, a decent amount of PG-13 violence and have a strong female character as their protagonists.

But that’s pretty much where the parallels end. The Hunger Games follows a girl who must survive a competition in which 24 youngsters are pitted against one another in a battle arena/reality show in a future dystopia, where only one can emerge alive. Twilight is about a girl in Washington State who falls in love with a vampire.

And when it comes to the heroines representing these series, The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen is indisputably better than Twilight’s Bella Swan (which probably accounts for Games’ bigger box office).

Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Katniss doesn’t need saving. She does the saving
When Bella meets Edward, she becomes completely dependent upon him. His love is the only thing that sustains her. Without him, she’s clumsy and helpless. By the end of the series — spoiler alert — she’s pregnant with his vampire baby and refuses to go to college. She is, in a way, the kind of daughter many parents would want.

Katniss doesn’t have time for wedding planners: her top priority is survival. The sharpshooter hunts for food to keep her family from starving. She leads a rebellion against the totalitarian government. And she saves the lives of her suitors — not the other way around. (Notice the swapping of gender roles: Peeta bakes, Katniss hunts.)

2. Katniss’ love triangle is way better
Yes, the Twilight love affair stirred up a lot of drama: Team Edward and Team Jacob shirts still abound. But let’s be honest, Jacob never really had a chance. It was always about Edward for Bella.

When Katniss, on the other hand, bothers to notice her suitors’ affections, she is legitimately torn between Gale and Peeta. But, more importantly, the Hunger Games love triangle is secondary to a much more interesting story about a civil war in a future dystopia. The amorous advances from Gale and Peeta mostly seem to annoy and exasperate Katniss, who has bigger fish to fry, like saving the country from an evil dictator. Katniss is at her best when she lets go with righteous fury. That hormonal angst is Bella’s specialty.

Plus, in Twilight (spoiler) the losing suitor ends up married to Bella’s daughter. Ew.

3. In an apocalyptic battle, you’d want Katniss on your side
Bella can’t even get through gym class without hurting herself. Sure, (spoiler) she becomes immortal — but only because Edward saves her by making her that way. She’s passive. But Katniss? You don’t want to be on the other side of that bow. Plain and simple, she’s a badass.

Hunger Games Movie Review

Murray Close

And when it comes to handling hard situations, it’s no contest. Bella gets dumped, and she spends an entire book in a deep depression. Katniss sees loved ones die and battles on.

4. Selflessness is a more noble quality than selfishness
Bella is willing to give up everything — her family, her friends, her life — to be with Edward. Katniss sacrifices herself to save her sister by volunteering to play in the Hunger Games — almost certain death — in her sister’s place. Which one sounds like a better role model to you?

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2'

Andrew Cooper, SMPSP / Summit Entertainment

5. We’d take J-Law over K-Stew any day
Kristen Stewart has become a tabloid mainstay because of her tumultuous relationship with Twilight co-star and on-again, off-again boyfriend Robert Pattinson. She is also known in meme world as being the most boring Hollywood star ever.

Jennifer Lawrence is America’s Girl Next Door. She’s beautiful, funny, sweet and has just enough flaws to make her relatable: when she won her Oscar, she adorably tripped on the stairs on the way up to receive her award. She is arguably the most likable person on the planet.

Comparing the two 23-year-old stars may seem unfair, after all Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) and Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) didn’t write the characters with these actresses in mind. But Bella seems to share the same boring one-note personality of Stewart: seriously, all she talks about is Edward. Katniss is delightfully multilayered and even flawed, but in a good way: she’s brave and resourceful, but also ruthless and impulsive.

12 comments
KayeJacobs
KayeJacobs

Stupid article by a stupid author. Twilight is ROMANCE while Hunger Games is about WAR/SURVIVAL. 

Katniss isn't even interested in love and marriage; she's too busy trying to stay alive, whereas Bella is completely consumed with Edward and their relationship. It's just silly to compare the two.

drivingsideways
drivingsideways

Wow, I'd never thought I'd see the day when I'd defend Bella Swann over Katniss Everdeen, but this article was troubling to me on several points, perpetuating stereotypes while pretending to be feminist. 

1) Bella Swann is not a worse character/ role model than Katniss Everdeen because she chose having a baby and not going to college over saving the world. THESE ARE VALID CHOICES TO MAKE, IF ONE IS MAKING THEM OUT OF FREE WILL, AND BELLA SWANN CERTAINLY DID THAT. 

2) Being depressed about a broken love affair is not inherently weak or shameful. Katniss may choose a different way to deal with her problems, but for chrissake, don't invalidate some emotions as "weak" and/or "too feminine" versus "strong" or "not feminine". 

3) I will absolutely agree that Twilight has a LOT of problematic tropes- Bella making her entire life revolve around a (man) and then the (man's) child, for one. She abuses her friends' trust of her, ignores them, and generally behaves like an all round terrible friend and never apologizes or gets called out on it (as far as I recall, but I'm not an obsessive fan of the books/ movies). Even more problematic to me is her decision to become immortal, which as far as I can tell is something born out of insecurity about her physical appearance and her continuing attractiveness to her eternally youthful boyfriend. These are both lousy things to be holding out as behavioural models to young women,  but this article never calls this out. 

4) Bella as "selfish" versus Katniss as "selfless". Right, even as I've already pointed out, Bella *is * a terrible friend; but  there is also y'know, a young woman who puts her own needs (emotional/ physical) over others and pursues that with all she's got, is not, by default a worse person than any other. Especially if women are ALWAYS being taught to put others' needs before their own, 

5) Lastly, the focus on the personalities of the actresses- which, dear reviewer, a really cheap shot, besides being completely irrelevant tbh, and I can't believe Time's editors let that pass?!

Finally, yes, I love Katniss and much much more than Bella Swann; because she is a character that grows and changes and is broken and fixed, too old for her age in many ways, a heroine who triumphs and yet somebody who's scarred for life and Collins doesn't flinch from portraying any of that. She is awesome in many ways and only some of it is because she's a kickass archer or has a "better love triangle". 


HeatherBaker
HeatherBaker

The Hunger Games may provide a better role model for young girls... but I'm not sure what the author is trying to accomplish by resorting to personal attacks against the actress Kristen Stewart.  Such immature desperation at making Stewart sound boring is unbecoming to the author and only speaks to jealousy.  I am sure when the author grows up, she will regret making herself look so juvenile and vapid.

Matty08
Matty08

I expect such articles from gossip blogs but from here? For shame. 

There would not be any The Hunger Games without the success of Twilight. The cash from Bella's franchise paid for the creation of the franchise of Katniss. It is plain saddening that the media still creates articles like this that perpetuate misogyny by pitting the ladies who head successful franchises against each other.

gerbells
gerbells

Yay comparing women to one another. Fat or skinny? Boring or interesting? Shameful article, Time. Not only is the topic a joke, the content speaks loudly.

DMello
DMello

Are you serious?

Is this garbage a 'TIME' article?

:0 in shock!

Are 'TIME' broken and in need of daily hits to pay the bills?

MatthewPa
MatthewPa

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for writing this.  And it's about time!  Katniss - and Jennifer for that matter -  have become so much better roll models than Bella and whatever Kristin Stewart has become.  It's so refreshing.

ClayJPena
ClayJPena

@KayeJacobs Being ROMANCE story is no excuse for a heroine to be ridiculously passive, nor the plot to be pathetically indulgent. There are a lot of romance novels with good heroines, simply because they serve more than just being the root of the problem and who also did least in solving it. 

ClayJPena
ClayJPena

@HeatherBaker I agree. Sure, the Hunger Games is a much better novel, Katniss is a much better character, and Jennifer Lawrence is a much better actress, but it would have been better if the author just stayed away from insults on Kirsten Stewart herself. Focusing only on the novel and the characters would have been more professional. 

MatthewPa
MatthewPa

@Matty08 "There would not be any The Hunger Games without the success of Twilight".


I've heard that Kristin Stewart fans were totally delusional, so it's interesting to see that it's being confirmed through this message board.  The Hunger Games is a compelling story and would have been made by someone.  To say that there would be no Hunger Games without Twilight is so bat sh___ crazy, it's almost unbelievable.

Matty08
Matty08

@MatthewPa Dumb-ass. I'm not a Kristin or Twilight fan, just an informed movie-buff. You are delusional if you don't acknowledge that THG franchise didn't learn and financially profit off the success of Twilight. You are aware that THG franchise did/do things that got done by Twilight first.

Did you not read entertainment articles that revealed that The Hunger Games books got handed out at Twilight events prior to the first THG movie being released? THG people courted Twilight fans at multiple of their events. Why? Because they share common interests. And if Bella is such an unworthy character why did Jennifer Lawrence audition for it?

MatthewPa
MatthewPa

@Matty08 To say that there would be no Hunger Games without the success of Twilight is beyond crazy. They are two totally different entities.  Yes, there would be some cross over fans, but to say what you said shows a lack of simple logical intelligence.