When Allegiant, the third of four cinematic Divergent adaptations, underwhelmed at the box office this year, Lionsgate decided to convert the impending fourth film Ascendant into a TV movie. The decision left fans upset and developments uncertain, with the YA trilogy's on-screen fate hanging in the balance. There's been nothing to go on but speculation for months now, but that hasn't stopped some notable voices from speaking up.
Shailene Woodley, who stars in the franchise as protagonist Tris, controversially stated early this fall that she would not be interested in a Divergent TV adaptation, before backpedaling soon after to clarify that she meant she did not want to star in a TV series. Though the rest of the Divergent cast has largely stayed silent since Ascendant's downgrade, another actor has finally spoken up -- and it happens to be Woodley's on-screen beau.
In a brief interview with TooFab, Theo James said that not only he, but most of the original movie cast, would probably pass on a televised Ascendant. When asked if he had any updates for Divergent fans, James stated:
"My message would be 'Thanks for the support.' I think it's a shame that we can't finish the story, but I think it's evolving in a place where the actors that have been in the three movies probably won't be in whatever it evolves to in the future."
James played leading man Four in the Divergent films. A daring, (almost) fearless young man from a conservative, abusive home, Four works with Tris to help her overcome her own doubts. With Four's help, Tris gains the strength to engineer the revolution that colors the dystopian Divergent series. In the same interview with TooFab, James said he would also not return to the Underworld films after their fifth and latest addition Underworld: Blood Wars. James plays David, a vampire and protagonist Selene's protege, in the Kate Beckinsale-led franchise.
This could be sad news for fans of the Divergent films, as it indicates that the made-for-TV Ascendant may be unrecognizable. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as the films were notoriously criticized for overcomplicating their largely character-driven source material with flashy sci-fi imagery. Though Divergent was a solid adaptation (and its box office numbers reflected that fact), follow-ups Insurgent and Allegiant relied too heavily on sleek, futuristic tech that ultimately distracted from their plots. Perhaps a fresh start is exactly what the Divergent franchise needs, then. Rather than clinging to a fourth film that could be yet another nail in the current adaptations' collective coffin, a TV series reboot would give Lionsgate a second crack at the source material, and perhaps introduce a new faction of fans.
No matter what, it's sad to see a series peter out like this one, especially since news like this continues to have larger implications for the dystopian YA genre overall. Here's hoping that whatever Lionsgate has in store next properly honors both the fans and the source material -- or at least finally drops the series' earth-shattering ending.
Screen Rant will have more details for you on Ascendant as they are made available.