Books Movies

9 Things We Learned From THE DARKEST MINDS Panel At BookCon

Alexandra Bracken and Amandla Stenberg shared some big details at THE DARKEST MINDS panel!

There was so much novel love at this year’s BookCon, but there was also plenty of book-to-movie love!

The Darkest Minds author Alexandra Bracken and Amandla Stenberg, the star of the film adaptation, headed up a special preview panel in which we were lucky enough to see a clip– in which Ruby escapes from Cate and Rob, finds Zu, and eventually ends up in Blue Betty– before the two talked extensively about the film and answered fan questions. There was A LOT going on, but we broke down the biggest moments for you!

There are a lot of reasons behind the transition from Black Betty to Blue Betty

When we first heard that the minivan known as Black Betty would be Blue Betty the cleaning van in the film, we figured it was for rights reasons. But there’s a lot more to it than that! For visual purposes, director Jennifer Yuh Nelson wanted Betty to be brighter, as the colors in the world outside Thurmond represent Ruby’s freedom. The van also had to be bigger to physically accommodate the cast, crew, and filming equipment. Additionally, Alexandra Bracken admitted that at the time she wrote the book, she didn’t realized that “Black Betty” by Ram Jam was considered a racially charged song– She simply thought of it as a rhythmic “marching song.” It worked along with her many classic rock references in the book, but that theme won’t be in the movie, either.

The “Yellow” classification is now “Gold”

Alexandra Bracken was the first to call herself out on the content of the original series, including the “yellow” classification being used to describe the story’s only prominently featured Asian character when the color is used as a slur against Asians. The movie seized its chance to correct that issue, changing Zu’s electric classification to “gold.”

Chubs is a test audience favorite

After a slight moment of hesitation, Alex divulged a behind-the-scenes secret: Skylan Brooks’ Chubs “killed it” with studio-selected test audiences. In fact, they loved him so much that Skylan was given more to do in the later stages of filming to feature Chubs even more. So there’s a lot of Chubs hilarity to look forward to!

Amandla sees herself in Miya Cech

Amandla Stenberg loved all the cast, but especially connected Miya Cech, who plays Zu, on a personal level. She says she tried to be the “big sister” mentor to then 10-year-old Miya that Jennifer Lawrence was to her on the set of The Hunger Games. Both Amandla and Alex talked about Miya’s intensity and acting prowess, which is especially impressive given that Zu doesn’t speak.

Chubs is going green– and it changes pretty much nothing

Some book fans were surprised to see that Chubs is a green in the movie promo, but it’s not that dramatic. Alex says that, despite her initial hesitation on that change, people still ask her to this day if Chubs is a blue or a green after finishing book one because she doesn’t specify much in that novel. Additionally, Alex couldn’t find a major storyline in the series that required Chubs to be a blue. So instead, we get a wider representation of the Psi colors in Blue Betty.

Things are getting glowy

That’s not a reflection you’re seeing in the trailer– Characters’ eyes are glowing the color of their power in the film adaptation. The reason is twofold: 1) Test audiences needed a little visual aid to help them remember which colors correlated with which powers and 2) Without the small effect, the characters appeared to just be staring very intensely and it didn’t quite have the same “oomph.”

Alexandra Bracken had script input

Once The Darkest Minds was a go, screenwriter Chad Hodges spoke to Alex intensively over the phone, going over book passages and asking questions. Despite some changes discussed above, Alexandra says that the screenplay is true to the book and she thinks readers will be very happy with the smaller changes meant for streamlining and clarity, some of which she wishes she thought of.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson is a rare director

Hollywood has known issues with representation, particularly behind the scenes. The Darkest Minds director Jennifer Yuh Nelson is a woman of color and one of only three female directors helming a major studio film in 2018, according to Alex Bracken. As if we didn’t have enough reasons to support the film, we’re here to support this!

Amandla really wants to star in Kill Bill Vol. 3

About a year ago, Amandla Stenberg sent Quentin Tarantino a letter *signed in her own blood* campaigning to play Vernita Green’s daughter Nikkia Green if he should ever make Kill Bill Vol. 3. In Vol. 2, The Bride tells a young Nikkia to come after her in 10 years if she still feels “raw” about her mother’s murder and Quentin has said that if he ever made Vol. 3, Nikkia may be the main character. We know this isn’t related to TDM, but… WHAT?!

In case you missed it, you can watch the full panel below:

By Kait

Kait is a New Englander, a YA book and adaptation lover, and a Slythindor, as well as a red velvet and red wine enthusiast. She likes to like things. Catch her on Twitter: @kaitmary

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