When I read the first Divergent book by Veronica Roth, I was impressed with the writing as well as relationships between the characters. While a quick read, you get connected to these characters and their plight in this strange post-apocalyptic world. Plus, I had the benefit of being able to quickly grab the next book to see where they go next. Unfortunately, we have to wait at least a year for the next installment. So while I enjoyed the film, let’s take a look at a couple key details that I thought shouldn’t have been left out. Spoilers for the first film and book are included below. You’ve been warned.
Peter Is More Evil Than He Appears On Screen
From the beginning, I thought Miles Teller was an odd choice for the most villainous of the initiates. He’s previously only played the affable, fast-talking sidekicks (21 & Over, That Awkward Moment) and the troubled but still charming romantic lead (The Spectacular Now). So while he tries his hardest to be a terrible person, the character just doesn’t have that edge that was present in the novel. Plus, a key moment showing just how low and evil he can be was not included in the film. They prominently show and include the importance of the rankings for the initiates, but you only briefly see that Peter is ranked at #2 just under a guy we don’t meet in the film, Edward. It’s not good enough that Peter make it in to Dauntless…he has to be the best. One night, while all the recruits are sleeping, someone stabs Edward in the eye with a pen. Without his eye, he can’t shoot accurately and is dropped from Dauntless to become factionless for life. While Peter isn’t caught or reprimanded, it’s obvious that he was the culprit. He’s a psychopath, so when Tris does over power him during the final battle, it’s all the more satisfying. And now, if the second book does get the movie treatment, his arch likely won’t be as impactful.
Tris Fears Her Own Burgeoning Sexuality
One of the best moments in the novel is when Tris’ final test has her going through her fear landscape. And while that doesn’t sound light, there’s a brief moment between the killer birds and family murder where she and Four have a romantic moment that lightened the mood a little. While the film portrays this as a fear of rape and being powerless, in the novel it read more that she was uncomfortable with her own sexuality. Growing up in Abegnation, she learned to value selflessness and restraint and there was never any public displays of affection. She barely saw her parents even kiss! However, those aren’t held in high regard in Dauntless. If you see something you want, you take it and that includes dating and showing affection.
While there were some other minor differences between the text and the screen, I do feel they did a fantastic job of adapting it. Just by the very nature of a adaptation, not everything is going to fit in. For example, the tattoos are a much bigger part of the Dauntless culture. And Tris gets the black birds to signify the 3 family members that she left behind. It’s not just a random selection. She later also gets the Dauntless symbol to show that she’s truly a part of the right faction and the Abegnation symbol to show where she came from. This then also ties in nicely with Four’s tattoos for all of the factions.