With outstanding casting, the four film versions of The Hunger Games were able to address a critical issue. Suzanne Collins’s novels devote a great deal of attention to the many citizens of the totalitarian future nation of Panem, but the films usually only spend a few seconds on each of them.
The solution is to cast actors who can do a lot in a small amount of time, which is why many of the supporting cast members in the series have gone on to greater fame.
Among them is the well-established Mahershala Ali, who played Boggs in the final two films of the series. His voice may be heard as The Prowler in both Spider-Verse animated features and as Cottonmouth in the Luke Cage TV series.
If the long-delayed Blade movie finally gets made, he’ll play the title role. Along with the rest of the characters in The Hunger Games, he manages to imbue Boggs with all the requisite complexity in very few on-screen minutes.
In The Hunger Games, Boggs is a Top Rebel Leader
The fictional world in which Boggs grew up, District 13, was reportedly destroyed by the ruling Capitol of Panem 75 years before the events of the books.
The District’s population has been able to endure and plan for another revolution thanks in large part to the massive underground complex it built when it was producing weapons and military technologies for The Capitol. Boggs, the District’s current number two, probably spent his formative years in those underground tunnels.
Coin, who is dedicated to District 13’s cause but whom he sees as deceptive and ambitious, is his official superior. He is an advocate for liberty who pushes for a more democratic government in Panem. Coin sees this and puts him in charge of protecting Katniss Everdeen while she performs her crucial propaganda duties.
A booby trap kills him during the last assault on The Capitol, in which he participates. He forewarns Katniss that Coin and her associates will see her as a liability once the war is finished and that they should not be trusted.
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Boggs Is a Perfectionist Living in a Realistic World
Boggs, as Coin’s second in command, should have her complete confidence. However, his doubts about her intentions and his willingness to discuss them with Katniss suggest deeper motivations. In other words, Boggs is more than just a political operative.
He is dedicated to the cause he defends, and his ideology goes beyond that of the faction he currently serves. That’s why he trusts Katniss implicitly with his worst suspicions about Coin, and why he has such great regard for her despite her suffering at the Capitol’s hands.
This links in with the story’s climax, in which victorious Coin plots to re-establish the old rule by staging another Hunger Games, this time with youngsters from the fallen Capitol. Katniss kills Coin to stop the rebellion and establish a more compassionate government.
With his forewarning, Boggs makes it possible for him to realize his overarching objectives, even if he does not survive to see their fruition. That’s due to the fact that he’s a master of political maneuvering and can work with Coin without compromising his principles.
Ali’s casting is what really makes this work. The actor gives Boggs a seasoned perspective on making do with what he has. But he also has the calm confidence of someone who has been in harm’s way, and he knows that Katniss can make a difference where it counts. Even the books are scant on details about Boggs’ upbringing, but with Ali, it’s all there in the flesh.
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