Everything You Need to Know About ‘Divergent’ Before the Film’s Release

Shailene Woodley, DivergentSummit Entertainment

When the trailer for the upcoming YA blockbuster series Divergent first dropped, there were many people who began excitedly counting down the days until the film was released in theaters. But there were just as many people who were left scratching their heads in confusion. “It looks really cool,” they thought, “but I’m not sure I know what’s going on. Is she in a dream world? Are they really drowning her? Why is everyone lining up to have knives thrown at their heads? Doesn’t that seem a little reckless? It seems like the kind of movie I would want to see, but I just don’t get the premise of it.” 

If you happen to be someone who’s struggling to keep all of the factions straight, or can’t seem to make heads-or-tails of why Kate Winslet is supposed to be so intimidating, was just too distracted by all of the train-jumping and gun-loading that you’ve missed an important plot point, consider this your lucky day. We’ve taken the time to break down the difference between Dauntless and Abnegation and explained why it’s such a big deal that Tris is Divergent so that when March 21 rolls around, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the action without getting lost. Or, you know, finally undertsand what’s happening in that trailer. 

So, Divergent is based on a book series, right?
Yes. It’s a dystopian YA trilogy written by Veronica Roth. The books are called DivergentInsurgent, and Allegiant.

Like The Hunger Games?
They’re both dystopian trilogies, but other than that, no, not really.

Can you sum up the premise of Divergent in only one sentence?
That’s a bit difficult, as there are a lot of different elements to the plot, but we’ll give it a shot: In a world where everyone is divided up into groups, one girl discovers that she doesn’t fit into just one category, and it’s a secret she must guard with her life.

Who’s the girl?
Beatrice ‘Tris’ Prior, the 16 year-old protagonist of the series.

Who’s going to play her in the film?
Shailene Woodley

And where is Tris’ story set?
In a dystopian future version of Chicago, IL

What do you mean by ‘dystopian’? 
In the world of Divergent, the entire population is divided up into 5 different groups, or factions, based on their dominant personality traits. If you don’t belong to any of these groups, because you’ve been kicked out or you refused to choose one, you are then considered factionless, and therefore abandoned to survive on your own.  

So, it’s important to belong to a faction?
Very. Without a faction, you don’t have a community of people who will protect you and look out for you, and the government essentially wants nothing to do with you.

Kind of like The Hunger Games, then?
A little bit. Anyway, stop bringing up The Hunger Games. Let’s just focus on Divergent for now.

Okay, fine. What are the different factions?
The five factions are Dauntless for the brave, Abnegation for the selfless, Amity for the peaceful, Candor for the honest, and Erudite for the intelligent.

And how do they determine who is part of what faction?
When you turn 16, you take a test that tells you which faction you belong in based on your personality.

What, like a Scantron? Or one of those BuzzFeed quizzes?
Not exactly. The test is made up of different simulations, which allows them to determine which aspects of your personality are most dominant, based on the way that you respond to certain situations.

And who gives the test?
Tris is given the test by a woman named Tori. She’s played by Maggie Q in the films.

So, is this like Hogwarts, where you’re just part of the general population until you get assigned to your faction?
No, people are born into whatever faction their parents are in. Then, after they take their tests, they can choose to remain in the faction, or, if the results place them someplace else, they can choose to leave their birth faction for a different one.

I’m not quite sure I follow you.
Take Tris and her brother, Caleb, for example: they were both born into the Abnegation faction, and then after their tests, Tris chooses Dauntless and Caleb chooses Erudite.

And who’s playing Caleb?
Ansel Elgort

Wait, isn’t he in that other movie with Shailene Woodley?
Yes, After they filmed Divergent, they were both cast in The Fault in Our Stars, where Woodley plays Hazel Grace Lancaster and Elgort plays Augustus Waters.

Aren’t they in love in that one?
Yeah, but it’s okay. Caleb doesn’t play a huge role in this installment, so you shouldn’t have trouble keeping the characters separate, or feeling too creepy.

Getting back on topic, then: Where does Tris get placed by the test?
Instead of being placed in one faction, the test shows that Tris has equal aptitude for three of them – Dauntless, Abnegation and Erudite – which means she’s Divergent.

And that’s a bad thing?
Yes. Tris must keep her divergence a secret in order to keep the faction leaders from finding out.

Why, what happens if they find out?
They will most likely try to kill her. Divergents are rare, and Divergents who split the results three ways are even more so, and so the government tries to eliminate them so they don’t cause problems.

How does she keep anyone from finding out that she’s Divergent?
She covers it up by picking only one faction to belong to.

So, after Tris chooses Dauntless, then what happens?
After you pick your faction, you undergo an initiation process. Since Dauntless is all about bravery, Tris’ initiation involves fighting, fear-inducing simulations, and feats of physical endurance. When the testing is done, she needs to be one of the top 10 initiates in order to take her place in the faction; otherwise, she becomes factionless.

And who’s giving that test?
Four, the Initiate Instructor. He will be played by Theo James.

His name is Four?

Don’t ask.

Are there any other initiates I should know about?
She’s initiated with a pretty big group, but the two most important characters to know going into the film are Christina (Zoe Kravitz), who becomes one of Tris’ closest friends and Peter (Miles Teller), who spends all of his time terrorizing Tris.

Why would he do that?
Partly because he’s worried that she’s outranking him in the challenges and he wants to be the best, but mostly because he’s a huge jerk.

Wait, wasn’t he in that other movie with Shailene Woodley?
Yes, The Spectacular Now.

Aren’t they in love in that one?!
Yes. She’s very lovable.

Okay. Well, I think I’ve got the faction stuff down, but what about the government? Isn’t there supposed to be some kind of revolution or uprising?
That comes later in the series, and we wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you. For now, all you need to worry about is Jeanine, the leader of the Erudite, who is attempting to seize power. She’s the main enemy of Tris and the Dauntless faction.

And she’s the one played by Kate Winslet?
She is indeed.

Wait, so, this movie’s just about Tris joining the faction?
Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of action and excitement from her initiations process, and the government threat is there throughout. That particular plot just doesn’t kick off until towards the end of the book/film.

But what about romance? Does Tris have a love interest? I’m only interested in Divergent if I get to ship something.
Tris and Four’s romance plays a role in the series as a whole.

Wait, it’s just Four? There’s no childhood best friend who needs to compete with him for Tris’ affections?
It’s just Four.  

So there’s no love triangle?
No, thank god.  

Can you please tell me why his name is Four?
Trust us, that’s not a particularly interesting reveal.

Fine. So, if I’ve got the factions down, and I understand Divergence, and I know who the hero and the villain are, is there anything else I should know before I see the film?
Nope, you should be all caught up and ready for the movie!

And when does the movie come out?
Divergent is released on March 21.

And if I wanted to watch the trailer again, now that I finally get what’s going on?
You can check it out here:

Divergent hits theaters March 21. You can check showtimes and purchase advanced tickets at Movietickets.com.