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How to Craft an Irresistible Villain: Coriolanus Snow

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SPU chapter.

*This includes spoilers for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes*

The highly anticipated prequel to The Hunger Games movies has finally arrived and fans couldn’t be more happy. It must be acknowledged that I am an avid Hunger Games fan. I am confident I have read the original trilogy at least ten times through. So, yes you could say I am biased, but the critics on Rotten Tomatoes are just wrong. I also refuse to listen to any critique from anyone who hasn’t read the book.

But I’m not here to talk about how the critics are wrong. I’m here to talk about how masterfully Suzanne Collins and Frances Lawrence, the director of the film, were at making Coriolanus Snow intriguing, likable, and even attractive. 

How do you make the man behind the Hunger Games, who quite literally has the blood of thousands on his hands from just the games alone, not to mention the hundreds of executions that happen under his name and administration, likable? 

Orphaned as a child and stripped of a normal childhood because of the ‘Dark Days’, the battle between the rebels and the Capitol, Snow is definitely traumatized and perhaps desensitized to violence, along with his whole generation. But Snow is placed in contrast to his cousin Tigris who has experienced all the same things in childhood. Because you like Tigris and Tigris likes Snow, you want to trust him. 

Snow is likable by association. Because of the two very likable women in his life, Tigris and Lucy Gray, you are primed to gravitate towards his character, besides the fact that he is the main character of the film. As an audience member, you are introduced to him as a morally gray teenager. He could swing either way; he could join Tigris and Lucy in their empathy for humanity or join the likes of Dr. Gual in her power and fear-mongering view of life. Collins skillfully creates space in the narrative for you to empathize with the boy who was born into a very corrupt world. 

Lawrence does a brilliant job guiding the film through the book’s plot. It’s not until the very end of the movie can you fully understand why Snow is a horrible person, but up until the infamous scene in the woods, you like him. You like him because he blurs the lines between what actions are for self-preservation and which ones are selfless acts of kindness or love. If you don’t look too deeply, he’s kind. He saves Lucy Gray and is willing to run away with her.

But if you pay attention, you realize he only ever was kind to Lucy because he thought it would give him a better chance at the Plynth prize. He’s only willing to run away after he thinks any chance of ever getting back to the Capitol is lost. Their love affair is a power trip for him. If you’ve read the book, you know Collins writes his inner monologue about Lucy Gray as very controlling and possessive. Once presented with his last loose ends, there’s nothing that can stand between him and the promise of power back home. 

So if he’s manipulative, why are moviegoers so obsessed with him? Snow is a fascinating character because of his intellect. From maliciously creating ways to make the games more marketable to cunningly navigating his way into Dr. Gaul’s elusive good graces, Snow always seems to land on top, and because of that, his story is irresistible. Brilliantly told by Lawrence, viewers get to enjoy Snow’s genius unfold on screen. 

Suzanne Collin’s ultimately plays with the reader’s empathy. Toying with the idea that Snow could ever be likable, you find yourself conflicted, often rooting for him to make the right decisions and see the evil in the Games. As Coriolanus develops and transforms as a person, there are moments where he leans into good, but his need for power always takes over. 

Perhaps the reader should take away this from his character: when an evil system in place could work in your favor, are you more willing to fight against the system or work within it to elevate yourself? You want to have empathy for him but ultimately he chooses power over love. 

The final reason everyone’s so obsessed with this movie lies in casting. Tom Blythe was a brilliant choice. Attractive and an amazing actor, he portrays Snow masterfully. I mean, who knew he’d look even better with a buzz cut right? But in all, seriousness, once Lucy starts trusting Snow and even starts flirting with him, you start to romanticize his character. Additionally, Collins taps into the enemies-to-lovers trope which always draws people in. What an intriguing tale and even more intriguing character. Blinded by his need for control spurred on by his natural instinct to survive, Snow and Baird have the most haunting love affair in The Hunger Games trilogy. A performer forced to fight, put all her trust in a boy who ultimately betrays her because he was in his own arena desperately trying to win his way into the Capitol’s high society. An already memorable character, Suzanne Collins outdoes herself in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes creating a Snow that no one will forget and some find themselves battling to not like.

Haley Blain is the President of Her Campus SPU! She joined Her Campus as a freshman and has thoroughly enjoyed the community. She is in charge of overseeing the direction of the club’s content and is responsible for being a correspondent to the HCHQ. She is currently a junior at SPU double majoring in Global Development and Economics. She lived in Shanghai, China for six and a half years. This influenced her decision to major in Global Development. Her writing experience includes writing for Her Campus since her freshman year, writing for the Falcon (SPU’s campus newspaper), and Bethany Community Church. At BCC, she created and wrote her own handbook for their missions department evaluating partnerships between the church and non-profits. It’s pretty obvious that Haley loves writing. She also enjoys reading, hiking, CrossFit, and dance. She is an avid music listener and likes to stream on KSPU (SPU’s radio station) with custom playlists that have new themes each week. This bio would not be complete without addressing her deep love for Taylor Swift’s music. Concerts are some of her favorite events to attend. Some highlights include Taylor Swift (Rep & Eras), Greta Van Fleet, and Alicia Keys.