Jennifer Lawrence Liam Hemsworth The Hunger Games

We’re getting our first look at Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in character as Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne for The Hunger Games, and it looks like fans might have over-reacted when they harshly criticized some of the casting choices.

Hemsworth’s most notable role so far has been the love interest of Miley Cyrus in The Last Song but The Hunger Games gives him the chance to really shine, possibly even putting him on the same level as his brother, Chris, who’s been taking Hollywood by storm in Thor and the upcoming films, The Avengers and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Even though fans of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian YA novel expressed serious doubts when Hemsworth was cast as Gale, director Gary Ross was confident with the decision, saying, “On first glance he’s such a hunk that it’s easy to ascribe a hunklike simplicity to him, but this is a phenomenally subtle actor, totally in control of what he was doing.”

You can check out for a few more pics, which include a look at Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and don’t forget to take a look at Katniss’ two main men on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.

The Hunger Games is set to arrive in theaters on March 23, 2012.