This picture above, and a couple of others that emerged recently - such as the one where Ender and Petra are holding hands in the Battle Room gate - have led to hot discussions in the Ender's Game fandom if these two characters will have some kind of teen love story in the movie. We asked Hailee Steinfeld (Petra), Asa Butterfield, and director and writer Gavin Hood about the depth of the relationship between Ender and Petra, but before we get into what they had to say, here are a few things to consider:
We know that - for several plausible reasons that have been widely communicated - the age of the Battle School kids in the movie has been upped to about 12 or 13 years from 6 to 7 in the book. What you will see on screen is a rather lonely and isolated 13-year-old boy (Ender) confined to a boarding school-like environment in space. And he makes friends with a girl of his age. What kind of chemistry would you expect to see between these two characters to make Ender believable, to bond with him?
But rest assured, there is no teenage love story between Ender and Petra. However, both characters formed a very tight friendship with moments of 'genuine tenderness' as Gavin Hood explained.
[Hailee]: "What's so great about the relationship between them... Not only did I not really see it as a sort of romance thing, the characters don't either. I think they're looking for a friend, for somebody to trust and feel comfortable with. And that doesn't necessarily mean boyfriend/girlfriend or whatever."What do you think? Doesn't it sound just perfectly right?
[Gavin Hood]: "You expressed it pretty well. They are in this Battle School, which is pretty brutal, and there is genuine tenderness between these two characters at certain moments. And there are genuinely sweet moments, when she teaches him how to shoot... both exciting and really tender. But it's not "let's be cute-y". None of that! None of us wanted that.
But Petra really is a badass in the movie, and does amazingly badass things! But we are all not just one thing. And just because she kicks ass, is badass, doesn't mean there's not a need for friendship. And both of these characters [Ender and Petra] are isolated and tough because they are kind of outsiders, and there's a couple of really nice moments in the movie where they're gonna say "to hell with those other people. We're gonna go out in the Battle Room and train!" And there is something genuine about it! There's nothing cutesy about it, no "oh let's have a little love story", none of that. But there is something... dare I say 'certain romance' to that, which is beautiful, in a real way, and they play it in a real way."