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Film / Divergent

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"The factions system is a living being composed of cells; all of you. And the only way it can survive and thrive is for each of you to claim your rightful place. The future belongs to those who know where they belong."

The Divergent Series is a series of film adaptations of the Divergent young adult novel series by Veronica Roth. The series consists of three films released from 2014 to 2016; however, it was ultimately left unfinished. It stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, Zoë Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Naomi Watts, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer and Maggie Q.

The first book's adaptation, directed by Neil Burger, was released on March 21, 2014. The second book's adaptation, The Divergent Series: Insurgent (directed by Robert Schwentke, as was the next installment), was released on March 20, 2015. The third book was divided into two films — the first part, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, was released on March 18, 2016; the second part, Ascendant, was slated for a 2017 release, but Allegiant's disappointing commercial and critical response threw it into Development Hell. This eventually led to plans being made for Ascendant to instead be released as a television film for Starz that would set up an additional Spin-Off series, but it was ultimately cancelled due to lack of interest from network executives and the franchise's cast, effectively bringing the franchise to a premature end.

Tropes applying to the films:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: In Insurgent, Evelyn doesn't look remotely old enough to be Four's mother. Naomi Watts is sixteen years older than Theo James, so their parental relationship in the movie is biologically possible, but the makeup and lighting departments did a damn good job at making her look as old as him, tops. Evelyn does at least say she was "very young" when she ran away.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The films actually cut out a chunk of information from the novels to focus more on others.
    • Tris' friendship with other Dauntless members not named Christina, Will, and Al are sacrificed so the films could focus more on her budding romance with Four. It is also why when Uriah meets Tris in the Candor headquarters in The Divergent Series: Insurgent, he has to introduce himself first (in the novels he is one of her best friends since the first book).
    • The insurgency against Erudite at the end of Insurgent had the entire Dauntless faction (plus a few from other factions) actually collaborate in the plot, whilst in The Divergent Series: Insurgent this is simplified so that only Tris, Four, Caleb, Peter, and Jeanine figure much.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Thanks to the plans to split Allegiant into two films, its first part, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, allows for many chances at this.
    • An additional subplot concerns the "rescue" (actually more like putting more people into the Bureau) of a village's worth of people. It serves as the first indication to Four that David is not what he seems.
    • A meeting with the council members at the city of Providence finally causes Tris to discover David's true intentions. She does not learn about his alignment until very far into the novel.
    • The whole plot about the memory serum is moved to much earlier in the timeline. Because Nita's rebellion is adapted out, Four immediately goes to Chicago following the aforementioned village's rescue, and Tris gets to visit Chicago again (in the novel, she spends her entire time in the Bureau). The battle between the Allegiant and the factionless is thus expanded, not to mention furthering Evelyn's role (she's essentially relegated to the background until Four's visit in the novel, which happens much, much later). David also has a very direct role in the battle. Due to the second part of the film adaptation, The Divergent Series: Ascendant, ultimately getting cancelled, how it was going to fill the rest of the book's events remains unclear, seeing that the only major event from the novel left uncovered was Tris' death.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the novel, Tris is described as average looking, with a long nose. In the film, she is played by the gorgeous Shailene Woodley.
    • In the novel, Eric is described as having a frightening and repugnant appearance. In the film, he certainly still has an intimidating presence, but is actually pretty good looking.
    • A more general example is Chicago itself. In the book, it is far bleaker and grimmer. The filmmakers claimed they wanted to play up the Crapsaccharine World trope - initially showing Chicago as a "communal utopia" before slowly revealing all the corruption underneath.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance:
    • Jeanine appears more often in the film version of Divergent than the book, where she is only mentioned most of the time.
    • David being revealed as the true Big Bad is a major shocking reveal in Allegiant and is kept secret until near the end; with most of the first part of the book focusing on Nita's rebellion. However halfway through The Divergent Series: Allegiant, David's true persona is already unmasked and he spends the rest of the film as the main villain.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Molly is much less antagonistic in the film than she is in the novel. She's still portrayed as a tough fighter, but otherwise lacks the openly sadistic and cruel streak of her book counterpart, and even compliments Tris for standing up to Eric during the knife-throwing.
    • Nita in The Divergent Series: Allegiant does not try to rebel against the Bureau for mistreating the genetically-damaged like she does in Allegiant. While she does assist Tris and co. against the Bureau's orders, it's because she (and everybody else in the Bureau) knows that David is up to no good, not because of a personal vendetta that Tris is sympathetic with.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Many of Tris' friends and fellow initiates from the books do not make it in to the films so that more focus could be put on her romance with Four. This includes Uriah, Lynn, Marlene, Lynn's sister Shauna, Uriah's brother Zeke, and Will's sister Cara. The Divergent Series: Insurgent features them in a much more reduced role, with Lynn only coming up just once to remind the others that the recently deceased Marlene did have a name.

      The exclusion of Cara is particularly significant, since in Allegiant, she is one of the leaders of the titular Allegiant, participates together with Tris' group to get to the fringes of Chicago, and also gets the task of informing Four at the end about Tris' death.
    • Tori's brother, George, and Four's mentor, Amar, do not appear in The Divergent Series: Allegiant. However, since they figure little if at all in the book (other than serving some tear-jerking moments as Tori was killed just moments before, rendering her entire goal to take revenge a "Shaggy Dog" Story), it does not greatly impact the plot.
  • Age-Gap Romance: The films technically have this trope between Four and Tris. In the first book, Tris has recently turned 16 and Four is 18, averting this trope. However, in the movie Four looks much older than Tris. The characters' ages aren't specified in the movie though according to Tris' actor Shailene Woodley, Tris is still supposed to be around 16 while Four was aged up to 24 or 25 to accommodate Theo James' casting, as he was 28 during filming and looked it; Woodley was 22 but could pass for a teenager. Going by Woodley's statement, Four is around eight to nine years older than Tris. The age gap isn't commented upon, although their romance develops whilst the more experienced Four mentors Tris as a Dauntless initiate. It's worth noting that in the setting, people come of age and are allowed to choose the Faction they want want to join permanently at 16, so in-universe they're likely viewed as two adults in a relationship despite them being nearly a decade apart.
  • And Starring:
  • Armor-Piercing Response: When Four guesses that Tris is a Divergent.
    Tris: Neither am I [going to pass the final test].
    Four: Why do you say that?
    Tris: You know why. And as soon as the others find out, they're gonna kill me.
    Four: I am not going to let that happen.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: In Insurgent, Tori, one of Tris' friends, kills Jeanine near the end of the novel to avenge her brother. In its film adaptation, it's instead Evelyn who does the job, likely to foreshadow the fact that she is much crueller than she appears to be.
  • Big "NO!": Jeanine is a master of this. She says big nos when Tris stops the simulation on Dauntless in Divergent and when Tris apparently dies during the attempt to open the simulation box in The Divergent Series: Insurgent.
    • David utters a big one when Tris manages to prevent the memory serum from being completely released in Chicago in The Divergent Series: Allegiant.
  • Blue and Orange Contrast:
    • In Divergent the orange is dominant during the fear simulations, with blue in the background. This is reversed at the test, where blue is dominant and orange is in the background.
    • In The Divergent Series: Insurgent Jeanine's control room is made up of various shades of blue. The controls on the screen are orange.
    • The Divergent Series: Allegiant does a similar thing where the screens of many of the machines are blue, and the text appears in orange.
  • Bookends: Insurgent begins with Jeanine taking power over and addressing the city with her will and it ends with her watching the loss of her power while imprisoned and then goes straight to the credits the instant she's executed by Evelyn.
  • Canon Foreigner: A new character, Edgar, replaces the role that Edward (the Dauntless guy who is forced to go factionless in Divergent) would take in The Divergent Series: Insurgent and beyond. Unlike Edward, though, Edgar survives all the way to the end of The Divergent Series: Allegiant (he's actually the one who kills Tori), while Edward dies just a few pages into Allegiant.
  • Divided for Adaptation: The novel Allegiant was split into two films, Allegiant and Ascendant, the latter of which was cancelled after the formers disappointing reception and box office performance.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • Tris's hair is used as a clock to symbolise her character development. In Divergent, when she is part of Abnegation, it's tied up in a modest bun. When she joins Dauntless, it's kept in a ponytail. It only comes down whenever she's at her most vulnerable (usually when she's alone with Four). In The Divergent Series: Insurgent she cuts it drastically short, showing how she's haunted by what's happened to her. She forgives herself for everything at the end of the film, so it has grown longer by The Divergent Series: Allegiant to reflect this.
    • Jeanine wears her hair down in Divergent when she's merely a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. When she takes control in The Divergent Series: Insurgent she now wears her hair up.
    • Natalie's hair was in a bun like Tris's at the start of Divergent. When she pulls a Big Damn Heroes moment in the climax to rescue Tris her hair is now down.
  • Foreshadowing: In the early scenes of The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Tris is told that to be a member of Amity means forgiving others and yourself. At the end of the film, she passes the Amity simulation by declaring that even if no one else forgives her for what she's done, she can still forgive herself.
  • Hypocrite:
    • In Divergent, when Tris shoots Peter to get information, Marcus asks "did you have to shoot him?" - which is very hypocritical coming from the abusive father.
    • In The Divergent Series: Insurgent, this is highlighted with Evelyn too. She claims that she fled Marcus because he was cruel and abusive, getting a very cold look from Tris because she still abandoned her son.
  • In Name Only: The third film adaptation, The Divergent Series: Allegiant uses some elements and characters from the book it's based on, Allegiant, as groundwork, but it otherwise has very different direction to the story it takes. Namely, it skips a whole arc from the novel (Nita's rebellion), reveals David as the villain much earlier, modifies some backgrounds (Natalie didn't just come from the fringes; she's from another city entirely, an experimental one like Chicago to boot), and even makes up some elements that just weren't there in the novel (the City of Providence). It also has Evelyn and Johanna reconcile, Marcus having his memories erased, and the whole city knowing about the outside world before Tris is able to perform her Heroic Sacrifice like she does in the novel. Essentially, it's a loose adaptation of Allegiant with a decidedly happy ending.
  • Ironic Echo: The film has Jeanine explain to Tris why Divergents must be eliminated. During this explanation, she says "I must admit, there is a certain beauty to your resistance." After using Jeanine's own brainwashing drug to force Jeanine to shut down her scheme, Tris returns the line to her.
  • Kangaroo Court: In Allegiant, the defendants' guilt isn't the issue (the truth serum reveals that) but the judges are blatantly biased against them and show no mercy. All of them are shot immediately. This is why Tris decides to break Caleb out and flee the city.
  • Meaningful Echo: In The Divergent Series: Allegiant, "it's/that's what you do for your family". Tris initially says this as her reason for rescuing Caleb from the prison, though she says it so coldly, you might think she wants to punch him if she doesn't restrain herself. Later in the film, after Caleb helps point Tris to cancel the memory serum, he returns this response to her as his reason for helping her, in a warmer tone and without any hatred.
  • Moody Trailer Cover Song: Insurgent uses a moodier cover of Louis Armstrong's happy "What a Wonderful World" ironically, as much destruction goes on in the trailer as it plays.
  • Only a Flesh Wound:
    • Peter gets shot in the leg by Tris to shut him down and force him to help her stop the simulation serum. He doesn't bleed and turns up perfectly fine by the end of the rebellion with no indication of a limp at all.
    • Similarly, in The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Evelyn gets shot by Peter, again in the leg, so she can't intervene in the release of the memory serum. Barring some limp, she can function normally afterward, and by the ending, can walk unattended.
  • Pet the Dog: Molly gets a moment like this in the first film, congratulating Tris on standing up to Eric.
  • Please Wake Up: Tris in Divergent to her mother mere moments after she dies. It's just one piece of her heart-breaking reaction. She briefly tries this with Tori in The Divergent Series: Allegiant but she has to flee soon afterwards.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: The Amity simulation in The Divergent Series: Insurgent is Tris fighting a double of herself.
  • Remember the New Guy?: A few characters who were in the first book but got left out of the film - such as Uriah and Marlene, appear in The Divergent Series: Insurgent along with the rest of the Dauntless. As the first film mainly focused on Tris and her three friends, we can assume they were there but we just didn't see them. Uriah's name does appear on the scoreboard in the first film.
  • Running Gag: In the first movie we have this gem:
    Person: You're not gonna shoot me.
    Tris shoots him
    • The last time it happens she even adds an exasperated "Why do people keep saying that?".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Said word to word, sentence to sentence by one of Evelyn's Mooks, when he realizes that it's futile to go against Tris and Christina's drones in The Divergent Series: Allegiant. He gets gunned down by Christina for his trouble.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Tris starts wearing white in The Divergent Series: Allegiant when she works closely with David. After discovering that he's the villain, she switches back to her old gear.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the first book, many Dauntless initiates miss the jump from the train and fall presumably to their deaths (or at least are left factionless). In the film, everyone makes the jump.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Marcus Eaton in The Divergent Series: Allegiant is shown in prison with his head now shaved, implying Evelyn had that done to him as soon as she took control.
  • Vague Age: The book states that the initiates take their test when they're sixteen, and Four and Eric's generation are eighteen. They are played by late twenties actors, so their ages are left deliberately vague as a result.
  • Villainous Valor: Said by Jeanine to Tris.
    "I admire that you're willing to die for what you believe. So am I."

Alternative Title(s): The Divergent Series Insurgent, The Divergent Series Allegiant