Lionsgate’s big screen adaptation of the popular young adult novel, The Hunger Games made headlines on almost a daily basis this past April due to the studio’s slow-burn approach to announcing casting updates on the project – which, as it were, looks to have been a successful marketing tactic.

Now the studio has unleashed a more visually appealing (in all meanings of the term) tidbit for Hunger Games fans: the first official image of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in the motion picture.

For those late to the party, here is the lowdown on The Hunger Games:

In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch.

Katniss’ younger sister, Prim (Willow Shields) is the one who actually “wins” in the Hunger Games lottery, but her strong-willed and protective sibling takes her place in the titular competition. So does Lawrence have the look of a young woman who (if needs be) is capable of kicking some serious butt?

Check out Lawrence as Katniss on the EW cover below:

Hunger Games book fans should be pleased to see that Lawrence (via the magic of makeup and hair dye) has adapted the olive-skin tone and darker hair color that Katniss is described as having in Suzanne Collins’ original novel; the bow and arrows are also a nice touch to further emphasize the idea that this is one adolescent girl not to be reckoned with. One could nitpick about how natural her appearance (with regards to her tan complexion or grey eyes) is, but Lawrence honestly looks close enough to Katniss as originally described – for us, at least.

Director Gary Ross took a lot of slack for his decision to cast the pale-skinned, blonde-haired Lawrence as Katniss in his Hunger Games adaptation, but the actress’ screen test for the part also sat well with Collins (who even publicly voiced her approval of the casting decision). While it might have been nice to see another more-than-capable young actress who naturally looks like Katniss as Collins described her (like True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld) take on the part, Lawrence nonetheless seems positioned to make an excellent impression in the film.

The Hunger Games arrives in theaters on March 23rd, 2012.

Source: EW