Divergent is a 2014 post-apocalyptic film, the first in a series based on novels by Veronica Roth. With distinctly dystopian themes and storylines that encapsulate the young adult experience, Divergent became an instant fan favorite. Unfortunately Ascendant, the final film in the series based on the second half of the Allegiant book, never manifested, leaving fans yearning for more movies like Divergent to fill in the void.
Thankfully, there are a few films that can help with that.
Movie Series Like Divergent
The greatest flaw of the Divergent film series is its unfinished ending. If you’re in desperate need of closure, here are a few series that did manage to see themselves to completion.
Hunger Games (2012)
Understandably, we lead with the Hunger Games franchise. It features a female lead thrust into a war of survival. There is class divide, there are factions, there is suffering and victory. The lines of morality blur as rebellion and romance entwine. Movies like Hunger Games and Divergent are beloved for these reasons and more.
But what ultimately makes both so popular is that neither attempts to paint a pretty picture. War is gritty, senseless, and ultimately traumatic. When sacrifices are made in dystopian movies, grief follows, becoming a way of life. And ultimately, no one really wins.
Maze Runner (2014)
Maze Runner opens with sixteen-year-old Thomas waking up in a labyrinth with no memories. As he tries to navigate the new world he was dropped into, he finds himself battling creatures of the night and soon, comes up against a nefarious plot that he must help uncover before it takes the lives of everyone around him.
Science fiction, action, adventure, and mystery all blend seamlessly in this movie – this first of three. Like Divergent, Maze Runner offers an interesting look into how a society forms in the first place. After all, if you have no memories and are fighting to survive, you inadvertently rely on your peers for support. Yet survival instincts can sometimes cloud one’s judgment and soon, lies and deceit take root.
But in addition to its dystopian themes, Maze Runner also offers an intriguing thrill ride as the characters’ attempts to escape simply leads them further into the heart of the mystery.
Resident Evil (2002)
Based on the game of the same name, this series follows the exploits of security specialist Alice and her team in a zombie-infested world, a product of bioweapons gone wrong. Alice and her team are tasked with pushing back the manmade apocalypse before it ravages the planet. As they continue the fight, the team must battle turning into zombies themselves.
The movies have been praised and criticized for a variety of reasons. Yet, most audiences have acknowledged them for their splendid cinematography. Additionally, the franchise was one of the first to successfully bring the gaming experience to the big screen.
Love it or hate it, Resident Evil changed the game when it came to film adaptations of games.
Best Dystopian Movies Like Divergent
When it opens, Divergent introduces its audience to a unique world order. Humanity is divided into factions based on human virtues. When Tris Prior discovers she is “divergent,” an outlier, she must race against the clock to discover the secrets of her faction before her abnormal leanings get her killed.
Divergent offers a rather interesting premise. One where humanity fears deviance to such an extreme, they murder anyone who displays any uniqueness or complexity. What makes it dystopian isn’t the post-apocalyptic environment itself, but the internal struggle and strife the characters endure.
Here are a few more dystopian movies like Divergent that tackle human suffering, resilience, and will.
V For Vendetta (2005)
In the distant future, anarchist freedom fighter V leads a revolution against a fascist totalitarian government. Along the way, he enlists the help of a young woman named Evey Hammond. Amid terrorism, war, and pandemics, the unlikely duo forge a bond and vow to take down the oppressors.
V For Vendetta was well-received by critics and audiences alike. Over the years, it has come to be closely associated with rebellion. The Guy Fawkes mask that V dons for the whole film has been used by several groups who fight against oppression, most notably the hacktivist collective Anonymous.
What makes this film so revolutionary, outside of its fashion choices, is it serves as a call to arms of sorts. It encourages its audience to take action against oppression. Yet it never tells them exactly what to do or whom to fight. This part of the struggle it leaves entirely up to you.
Dune is set in a dystopian future where a delicate balance exists between several warring noble families. This precarious balance is threatened amid betrayal and power plays. The situation goes from bad to worse when control of “spice,” a vital resource in this world, changes hands.
Dystopia is often one of the most difficult concepts to bring to life on screen. It is often bleak, grey, and dull. The dystopian struggle is also largely political on the larger scale and internal on the individual level. Which makes it quite hard to portray.
Yet movies like Divergent have managed to do just that. And Dune has already cemented its place as one of the most visually stunning films of all time.
Best Romantic Action Movies Like Divergent
While the dystopian struggle is the overall theme of Divergent, its romantic subplot is as beloved as its main story. Here are a few more movies Like Divergent with romance playing an equally important role in how the story unfolds.
I Am Number Four (2011)
After a war on a planet named Lorien decimates its people, nine children are sent to hide on earth, each with a guardian for protection. When the first three children are murdered, number Four, John, and his guardian Henri hit the road and try to hide out in a remote town.
John soon finds himself falling for a local girl named Sarah. And for the first time, he finds himself less willing to relocate for his own safety, instead deciding to take a stand and fight.
While critics weren’t a fan of the film, audiences appeared to enjoy the premise quite a bit. Unfortunately, the film suffered a similar fate to Divergent. Alas, we may never learn the fate of the rest of the Lorien Garde hiding on earth. But at least we got one cool romantic action flick out of it!
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Jupiter Ascending is a space opera built on the premise of transhuman alien royalty and intergalactic organ harvesting. Put simply, humans are being harvested to produce youth serums for aliens. When the alien matriarch’s death results in a power struggle among her sons, a young housekeeper named Jupiter finds her normal life turned upside down.
The film wasn’t a critic-favorite by any means, but it earned a pretty solid following among female sci-fi fans. Much of this stemmed from its choice to have an everywoman as its lead as opposed to a gun-toting death-defying badass. Jupiter is your average girl. She is clumsy, scared, and caught in a war she never knew existed. And that makes her much more similar to the leads in traditionally male-led sci-fi action flicks.
And beyond its appeal, Jupiter Ascending is a visual treat with a pretty solid romantic subplot that never overwhelms the overarching story.
Arguably Kate Beckinsale’s most iconic role, Underworld follows elite vampire warrior Selene, a loyal member of her clan who soon begins to question her loyalties after befriending a human caught between the ever-raging vampire-werewolf war.
The series takes Selene on a journey, beginning with her bringing down tyrannical oppressors, battling extermination, and eventually fighting super soldiers and mystical creatures. It’s a wild ride and features some of the most stylish steampunk-dystopian visuals of the last few decades.
And beyond its visuals, the Underworld franchise offers some stunning action sequences and does a pretty good job upping the ante with each new installment.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
New Yorker Clary Fray is just your average teen: she lives in a gorgeous loft with her mother, she hangs out at clubs with her friends, and she occasionally draws runic symbols entirely out of context. Talk about quirky!
On one of her nights out, specifically her sixteenth birthday, Clary runs into a group of “Shadowhunters” and witnesses them murder a man. Needless to say, she doesn’t take this too well. But she soon learns things are not what they seem. And as her destiny unfolds around her, Clary must battle everything from creatures of the night to her growing feelings for the Shadowhunter Jace.
The Host (2013)
Post-apocalyptic dystopia and romance blend in this sci-fi thriller from Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame. Parasitic aliens have taken over the world and made humans their “hosts.” One host, Melanie, finds herself in the company of a parasite named “Wanderer.” Soon, the two begin a battle to take full control over the host body.
And when each soul begins to yearn for the people they have begun to love, it becomes even harder for them to let go.
The Host’s dystopian elements stem largely from an alien invasion and resulting war. But outside of its sci-fi plot, it tackles human relationships and bonds and, interestingly, offers its own unique take on the mind-body connection.
“Becoming Fearless Isn’t The Point”
As Divergent’s Tobias so eloquently puts it, dystopian films are very rarely about the grand finale or ultimate victory. And they’re certainly not about destroying one’s own fear. On the contrary, their charm lies in the overcoming of struggle while retaining one’s humanity. Well, most of it, at least.
Movies like Divergent have attempted in a variety of ways to accomplish this feat. While it’s easy to be swept away by the visuals and dystopian elements, ultimately, they all keep their focus on the actual people themselves. Their journeys, their growth, and ultimately, their inherent humanity and indomitable spirit.
Liked this list? Check can also out Best Dystopian Movies on Netflix.