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Jennifer Lawrence sparks backlash for claiming The Hunger Games was the first female-led action film

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Jennifer Lawrence sparked fierce online debate after commenting that “nobody” had put a woman in a lead action role before The Hunger Games.

The actress, 32, who burst into the spotlight after her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, made the bold statement in discussion with Viola Davis for Variety.

“I remember when I was doing Hunger Games, nobody had ever put a woman in the lead of an action movie because it wouldn’t work – because we were told girls and boys can both identify with a male lead, but boys cannot identify with a female lead,” she explained.

“And it just makes me so happy every single time I see a movie come out that just blows through every one of those beliefs, and proves that it is just a lie to keep certain people out of the movies. To keep certain people in the same positions that they’ve always been in.”

But while many have commented that her remarks on inequities within the industry are valid, movie buffs were quick to slam the assertion that she was the trailblazer for women-led action films.

Social media critics noted that several other women have starred as leads in action films – including Sigourney Weaver in the Alien franchise; Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider andUma Thurman in Kill Bill.

Charlie’s Angels – starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu – and the Resident Evil series with Milla Jovovich at the helm were also mentioned in the debate.

However, others have jumped to her defence to argue the overall point she was making is far more important than semantics.

“Honestly the dunks on this one are kind of infantile,” one wrote.

“Obviously there were female led action movies. But it’s ridiculous to claim that they’re common. Lawrence’s larger point – that boys are not expected to identify with female leads – is still valid.”

Another agreed, while adding that Lawrence’s exaggeration has prompted misdirected anger.

“It’s the hyperbole that makes people concentrate on the wrong thing,” they claimed.

“She could have said, ‘There’s been a serious lack of female led action movies, that needs to change.’ When you say NEVER, it seems selfish aggrandising and gives people a reason to argue with you.”

The Hunger Games franchise earned over $US2.97 billion ($A4.38 billion) at the worldwide box office with four movies.

A prequel to the series is currently in the works, based on Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

Rachel Zegler, Hunter Schafer, Peter Dinklage and Viola Davis are set to star in the film, which is due out in November 2023.

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