Home » Trailer For New ‘Hunger Games’ Movie Suggests A Lot Of Exciting Alternate-Universe Cars

Trailer For New ‘Hunger Games’ Movie Suggests A Lot Of Exciting Alternate-Universe Cars

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I’ll be honest, I haven’t really thought all that much about the Hunger Games series of movies (or books) since they first came out in, what 2012 or something, but I know they’re a very big deal to a lot of young adults for whom the dystopia of reality is less interesting than a made-up dystopia. I get that.  It looks like there’s a whole new movie in the series coming out, this one a prequel to the original, based on the 2020 book The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is a long-ass title that I intend to not have to type again here. I bring all this up because the trailer features what look like could be a lot of interesting cars, and, thanks to a childhood promise made to ’70s-era funnyman Slappy White, I am morally obligated to evaluate every new fictional car that appears in any media, at least when I remember. The trailer for the movie features a number of cars, all sadly tiny, but there’s enough here to ignite my curiosity. Let’s look.

First of all, here’s the part of the trailer where all the cars show up; you don’t have to watch the rest of it if you don’t want to, I won’t tell anyone. Or you can, that’s fine, too. Whatever makes you happy:

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Okay, so, here’s why these movie cars are interesting to me: lots of movies feature cars, and usually they’re existing cars that we all know, perhaps limited to a particular time and place. Occasionally we see made-up cars, and those are always interesting, and very rarely we get a whole ecosystem of fictional cars, made up to fit a time and place that doesn’t actually exist. This seems to be one of those rare and wonderful times.

The general premise of the world where these movies and books take place is on Earth, in a future where the planet has suffered the devastation of a global-scale nuclear war. The setting of the books and movies, Panem, is a post-nuclear war country that exists geographically where most of the old contiguous 48 states of the United States of America once did, but organized very differently, into 12 “districts” and a Capitol, which seems to be located around the Rocky Mountains, near Denver, I think. Something like that.

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Anyway, there’s a repressive, authoritarian society that’s sprung up in Panem, and while earlier movies show a more advanced Panem with a very ornate, ostentatious sense of style and high technology, this earlier iteration of Panem looks to have more mid 20th-century level of technological development and a sort of Eastern Bloc-in-the-1970s kind of look and feel. And the cars seem to fit right into this sort of world. Just look at what we’ve got going on, car-wise:

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See, that looks pretty Eastern Bloc, doesn’t it, like maybe Warsaw in 1975? Something like that. We see plenty of cars driving around, generally conventional-looking, but none actually identifiable. I know I complain about the lack of good colors in modern cars, but the Panem car buyer seems to have it worse, with only black cars to be seen anywhere. And do these cars lack headlights, or do they all have covered lights? Let’s zoom in a bit:

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They definitely have taillights, but all the headlights I can see appear to be blacked out or covered or something like that. Let’s look even closer at some of these cars:

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I like what I’m seeing here, but don’t forget that I actually like, un-ironically, an awful lot of Soviet Bloc cars that many people would roll their eyes at. These feel kind of like GAZ Volgas or maybe a Škoda 1201 or something like that; an odd combination of frumpy and sleek, humble and imposing, all at once. A number of them have a similar chrome-bar grille with a little partial gap in the middle; perhaps this is a visual identity of a particular brand? It seems to show up on at least three slightly different cars.

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Other shots show the rear and profiles of some cars, and there’s only one where I feel like I can make any sort of reasonable guess as to what car the moviemakers have modified to build these; I think the one called out there may be a modified Volkswagen Type 3 Fastback? The one on the lower left is quite sleek, and could be built from a 1950s American car, but the most exciting one I think is the lower right, which seems to resemble either a Tatra T87 or T77, or perhaps a Škoda 935 Dynamic, cars that are exotic and unknown enough that if the filmmakers actually got access to one, could show up in a fictional universe and feel right at home.

Battlestartatra

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This technique has actually been seen before, such as when Tatra T87s were used as cars from another planet in the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series, as you can see above. Tatras work very well as stand-ins for cars from realities that aren’t ours.

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There are also some good alternate-future trains that seem to be in the movie, with this Deco-ish streamliner bearing a strong resemblance to Henry Dreyfuss’ Mercury streamliner from the 1930s. If you haven’t heard of Dreyfuss, I guarantee you know his work. Among other things, he was the man that designed the iconic land-line telephone! That phone is called the Model 500, in case you ever get asked.

There’s not a lot to go on here, really, just a few seconds of footage of cars buzzing around, but, as I said, it’s not all that often we get a whole entire fictional automotive ecosystem created for a movie, especially one that seems to be based on the cars of the old Eastern Bloc. I’m really curious to see how this gets developed in the film. I hope we get closeups, and names for these cars, maybe a dealership? Honestly, if the whole movie followed a Panem family test-driving about a dozen cars, I’d be fine with that!

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GhosnInABox
GhosnInABox
1 year ago

Alternate reality cars at 2m 26s, alternate reality Eminem at 1m 38s.

Side note, have they announced who’s been cast to play B.J. Blazkowicz in this yet?

Scott
Scott
1 year ago

Any mention of a Tatra makes content good (IMO). 😉

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
1 year ago

If you haven’t already, Jason, check out the 1990s movie Dark City. Lots of neat cars in the fictional world, including a very incongruous recurrent DS19.

pliney the welder
pliney the welder
1 year ago

There’s definitely a Studebaker Champion vibe to one above the VW .

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

The VW Type 3 and 4s really are the most Eastern Block looking non Eastern Block cars ever. So nice choice, film maker types!

4004
4004
1 year ago

I rather enjoyed the original books, and the films were actually decent in adapting that story, plus ok acting for that type of film.
Sadly I doubt they have the budget for this to have a fully thought out transport ecosystem, beyond some distant sweeping shots of (interestingly) modified 3D models

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

prequels are a lazy way of generating interest in a story, if the movies did an ok job and enough people never really got the back story on key figures, it is generally more interesting than say 3 more sequels.

the cars being tropes of communist bloc country vehicles seems especially lazy as it assumes we could somehow get those in the new republic before the bombs fell. I suppose those old things might still be what you could find in a museum though that were not incapacitated by EMP though.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

I agree about prequels for the most part.

The cars and motorcycles were likely post-nuke and as such their production was limited to use for people of importance in the government and such and with that limited aesthetic design and color choices. It would make sense that after a nuclear war where we survived that we wouldn’t build complex cars that rely on foreign components when supposedly there are no other “surviving” countries.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

All this seems to have the feel of Batman The Animated Series. Particularly that train.

Soso Tsundere
Soso Tsundere
1 year ago

Oof, what a title. It’s no Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance.

B L
B L
1 year ago

I feel like the only person in the world who generally dislikes prequel series. It always feel like they just don’t have stakes. We know none of the characters involved either can’t be that important (if they were we presumably would have heard of them in the main series), can’t die (if they are referenced in the main series), or can’t survive (if it makes no sense for them not to be in the main series).

Like, what is prequel games even gonna look like (or what does it look like – I’ll fully admit I haven’t and will not read the 2020 book – the other books were perfectly enjoyable but didn’t leave me wanting more)? We already know the broad strokes of what happened.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago
Reply to  B L

I agree.

That being said I hope they’ll talk more about the previous nuclear conflict and talk a bit more about their technological development.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 year ago

Henry Dreyfuss had a REALLY interesting career. My 1952 John Deere Model A was styled by Dreyfuss. Those became the prototypical tractors of the 40’s and 50’s. Even though Ford sold more tractors, the Deere looks more classic and ‘tractory’.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
1 year ago

That car in the left foreground looks like Mr. Incredible should be driving it.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

Redressing mid-20th century cars for our dystopian future is definitely a thing. The classic examples are Gattaca and In Time.

These Soviet-era machines instantly tell the story of a future Cuba, where production or trade has ceased so individuals must make due with the Cache of Clunkers.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Came here for this – I love Andrew Niccol’s movies. The police Chargers of In Time were my favorite.

BTW he also continues this nicely in Anon.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 year ago

It’s like they used Midjourney as gave it the prompt “soviet cars:1970’s”

Jb996
Jb996
1 year ago

Unrelated to the cars, (sorry) I hate these movies. It’s post-apocalyptic nuclear future, most people are supposed to be crushingly poor and downtrodden; but don’t worry, everyone is still well made-up, well-dressed, and fabulously beautiful.
Because today’s teenagers need more mental health challenges, and they need to know that no matter what happens in your life, the MOST important thing, is to not be ugly. No one cares about ugly people.
/rant off

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Jb996

They have slightly dirty Henley shirts, what more do you want?

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Collars are not for the poors.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
1 year ago
Reply to  Jb996

That’s pretty much the thing that sets off the rebellion. The Capitol was wealthy but only because of the parasitic way it treated the Districts. The books did a much better job of expressing that, I think.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago
Reply to  Jb996

You’ve missed the key point in the story. The residents of The Capitol are well made-up and fabulously dressed, but the residents of most districts (numbered 4 and up) are crushingly poor and downtrodden.

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

In a Brobdingnagian example of real-world genre blindness, most of the marketing and tie-in products seem to involve the glitz and glamor of the Capitol.

If this were really the US (especially Colorado) it’d be nothing but jacked up pickup trucks with Punisher stickers in the rear windows.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago
Reply to  Zeppelopod

Colorado? That’s most likely District 2. The Capitol is SLC.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael Beranek
Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

Huh, I must’ve missed that. For some reason it stuck in my head as the Denver/C-Springs area.

…come to think of it I probably got my wires crossed with the Nora of Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

Slappy effing White?!! Why didn’t you just go all the way with Nipsey Russell and put us all out of misery?

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
1 year ago

Honestly, if the whole movie followed a Panem family test-driving about a dozen cars, I’d be fine with that!

Jason, I definitely look forward to reading this Panem fan fiction! Make it happen!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

Well there are no cars shown in The Capitol during the 74th Hunger Games, but there are 250 mph maglev trains. Perhaps The Capitol’s mass transit system was not yet complete, so cars were still a thing.
In the book, this is a much poorer Capitol and a much poorer Panem than the one depicted in Katniss’ time.
I still wonder what happened to Canada.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

I believe it’s a common trope in fiction that Canada doesn’t exist, also Mexico. Or, in dystopian future fiction, sometimes, they’ll have the parts that have to show on on a map of the continental US joined into some post-US state, but ignore the rest

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

There was a Gundam series where the climax took place in Edmonton – and really accurate Edmonton, you could go to every location used as a background – and it was way more exciting than it should have been entirely because of that trope.

Exodia101
Exodia101
1 year ago

Panem is all of North America, including Canada and Mexico

Zeppelopod
Zeppelopod
1 year ago

Not sure about Canada, but if my sources are correct, the end of the world means Alaska breaks off from the mainland to go hang with California and Hawaii.

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