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When you head to the theaters this weekend to see our girl Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) compete in "The Hunger Games," keep in mind there's another battle brewing. The battle for Miss Everdeen's heart, that is.
On one side is Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), who's been Katniss' tall, dark and handsome confidant and hunting partner ever since they both lost their fathers in a mining accident. For years, Gale has had the exclusive on Katniss' trust and attention thanks to their mutual need to provide for their younger siblings.
Then comes Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her fellow tribute from District 12, who makes a startling confession about his life-long affection for Katniss, sending her into a mild tizzy and changing the nature of the Games altogether. Once upon a time, Peeta – whom she only knew as the baker's son — gave her some much-needed bread in a time of deep desperation. In fact, she might just say he saved her life.
Many "Hunger Games" fans rallied around one character or the other as their picks for our leading lady, and thus began the battle of Team Gale and Team Peeta.
In Favor Of Team Gale
[caption id="attachment_102254" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Lionsgate"][/caption]Fans who cheer for Team Gale point out his many shared interests with Katniss. Not only do they both like (and need) to hunt, but they also brave the Seam's black market together and share their spoils evenly. Katniss can count on Gale to provide for her family, even when she's sent off to fight in the Arena and might not come back. He's a tried and true friend to her, and he ignites the notion a better life for them both, saying, "We could do it, you know. Take off … live in the woods."
Marissa T.: "I'm all Team Gale … He's a man's man. He is a little rough around the edges ... He also seems to be the only one that is comparable to her. They are both hardened and closed off in the same way, but they are able to break those barriers down when they are with each other."
Rebekah D.: "He's the best friend. He's a hunter. He's a hot studly dark-haired man. How could he not win Katniss? ... Sure, Katniss and Peeta are cute together and all. They have their moments, but Gale has my heart!"
Amber L.: "He was her perfect match from the beginning. If Katniss had never been a tribute they would have spent their lives together."
In Favor Of Team Peeta
[caption id="attachment_103875" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Lionsgate"][/caption]Those allying with Team Peeta note that the smooth-talking, artistically-inclined blonde is as sweet as his delicious sugar cookies. He's genuine, too. While the understandably suspicious Katniss might initially think his words of affection are a clever ruse to win favor with the sponsors, Peeta's actions coincide. For him, it's more than just a game, and he influences her to consider a deeper goal than just winning. "I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don't own me. If I'm gonna die, I wanna still be me," he says.
Bradley T.: "I'm definitely on Team Peeta, but that's probably because his character is developed a lot more in the first book … I could go all day on how Peeta is my homeboy."
Amie F.: "Definitely Team Peeta … How can you not love his cheeky wit and desperate romantic nature?"
Andre R.: "Peeta was man enough to go for it… I say if [Gale] wanted her, he should have gone for her before it was in question."
Jimmy W.: "I found myself relating most with Peeta in that he does what is right for people around him … I'm sure more of the women are all about Gale and will be after the movie because of the actor who was cast, but my guy in the series will always be Peeta."
Where the Cast Stands
Jennifer Lawrence told Seventeen Magazine, "I think I was Gale, until he started getting a little too trigger-happy... or maybe first Peeta and then Gale, or Gale then Peeta? I went back and forth a lot!"
Isabelle Fuhrman explained on Twitter, "I loved Team Gale for the first book and for half of the second, but after 'Mockingjay' I knew that I was Team Peeta."
Jacqueline Emerson said to MTV, "[Peeta's] so sweet! He balances Katniss out."
Your turn: Where do you stand? Sound off in the comments below!
Amanda Bell is a young adult book-to-film enthusiast and has made a name for herself as a fan-friendly, informative and dependable source. In addition to being the District 14 columnist for NextMovie, she runs the popular Twilight Examiner column. Keep tabs on her on Twitter.