As you know, Tris’ character transformation from Divergent to Insurgent was epitomized by her dramatic shift in hairstyle. As we’ve written about previously, a woman’s choice to chop off her hair in cinema usually symbolizes victimization or strength. In Insurgent’s case, it was the latter.
Tris wholeheartedly accepted her new-found revolutionary role by sporting a new pixie cut. Viewers and fashion outlets definitely took notice. The ‘Insurgent haircut’ was a hit on Pinterest and women across the globe were pining for it. In Allegiant, Tris still rocks a short cut, but it’s tamed. The way you perfectly coiffed and added volume to Shailene Woodly’s hair presented her in a doting manner. It’s the exact opposite of what positioned her as a badass in Insurgent. It’s what Hollywood would prefer in a leading lady and a perfect example of the boresome decline of the Divergent franchise.
I quite enjoyed the first Divergent film. In what seemed to be the boom of dystopian melodramas (Elysium, The Hunger Games, The Giver, Maze Runner, etc.), Divergent stood out. The whole idea of factions struck a chord and I looked forward to the sequels. But as more and more anti-utopian features came out, the lines between them started to blur. It was in that mess of suppressed civilians under a totalitarian regime that Insurgent came out and I couldn't have cared less. I remember seeing the previews but didn't think anything past that point (I wasn’t interested in getting the haircut). I eventually forgot that it ever existed, which is what led me to believe that Allegiant was the direct sequel to Divergent. While this came as a shock to me, it also helped solidify that the franchise is forgettable.
The fact that I skipped an entire connecting movie didn’t make a difference. It’s been two years since I last saw a Divergent film and I picked up right where I left off with Allegiant. I was stunned to see that the story didn't change and none of the characters developed. Four is a copy and paste from the first movie and Peter is still an irritating prick (largely due to Miles Teller). Tris actually regressed by being fooled by corruption, again; only this time, instead of Kate Winslet, it's Jeff Daniels, who’s been cursed with playing 'white man in power suit' for the rest of his acting days.
Tris’ uninspired hair is not just a metaphor for the decline of the Divergent franchise, but also an ode to the state of blockbuster sagas. Once franchises garner a strong fan base, they become lazy. They accept that they don’t have to try as hard to make the same amount of money and decide to coast on mediocrity. It’s buzzcuts, all around. I can’t describe to you the complete neutrality of my feelings with _Allegiant. It was so conventional—so familiar. It didn’t raise a single hair on my body.
In an expected attempt to rake in more dough and stay relevant for a little while longer, Allegiant—the final chapter of the saga—has been split into two separate films, much like what has been done with The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Harry Potter. If it’s anything like Allegiant, part two isn’t going to be exciting. Unless you change that. You are the Key Hair Stylist and the trend-setter. Give Tris a purple Mohawk and let her go out guns blazing, closing the franchise in the same way that made it popular to being with.