A traditional sequel to Twilight wouldn’t work for myriad reasons, but a prequel television series focusing on the Cullen clan’s bleak backstories could reignite interest in the franchise. The Twilight franchise was a full-blown pop culture phenomenon circa the late 00s when the novel saga topped the bestseller charts and Twilight’s movie adaptations were blockbuster hits at the multiplex.
However, for the first few years after the series wrapped in 2012, Twilight’s popularity appeared to wane. The franchise was replaced by a more critically well-liked young adult fiction adaptation and the Twilight saga became a cringe-worthy if nostalgic piece of pop culture ephemera from the previous decade. However, as leading actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson became blockbuster stars all over again, recent years have seen something of a revival in Twilight’s fortunes.
As proven by the extraordinary streaming numbers that Netflix reported when the Twilight movies were made available on the service, the series is still popular with viewers of a certain vintage. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer wasted no time cashing in on this collective audience nostalgia when she released Midnight Sun, a re-telling of the original Twilight novel from Edward Cullen’s perspective, in 2020. However, it was a lot easier for the writer to bring back the story on paper than it would be for Twilight’s producers to repeat this trick on screen. The prospect of a Twilight sequel is almost impossible to imagine in 2022 for numerous reasons, which is precisely a prequel television show chronicling the Cullen family’s origins could work.
Why A Twilight Movie Sequel Would’t Work In 2022
Despite the Netflix hit Midnight Mass borrowing some of Twilight’s alternative vampire lore, 2022 is not the best time for a direct theatrical sequel to the series. For one thing, there is no way Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart would return for another movie in the franchise now that the duo are both taken seriously by critics as dramatic actors and have both headlined blockbuster releases. For another, there are no more Twilight books for the franchise’s producers to adapt even if the cast were willing to reunite. The Twilight novels all have movie adaptations, save for the gender-flipped retelling Life & Death and the perspective-flipped retelling Midnight Sun. Both of these are (admittedly ingenious) gimmicks that only work in novel form, since the original Twilight movie adaptation covers the same narrative ground as these two novels and thus couldn’t be adapted again, despite Meyers being able to tell the same story three times from three different/angles.
Why The Cullens Deserve An Origin Show
Although the Twilight franchise can’t provide any more original stories for new movie adaptations, the series may not need this. All of the necessary melodrama, tragedy, and horror needed to maintain a miniseries is contained within Twilight’s Cullen family backstories. The surprisingly gory origin stories of Edward’s adopted family are by the far darkest part of the Twilight saga’s mythos and they are either elided by the movies entirely or compressed into brief montages, meaning viewers wouldn’t be bored by the show retreading familiar ground. Spanning different continents and centuries, the backstories range in genre and tone from Carlisle Cullen’s Witchfinder General-style childhood in 1600s London to Rosalie Hale’s Jazz Age revenge backstory. The Cullens are a troubled bunch whose origin stories belie the PG-rated image of Twilight, and that could actually be a good thing for the franchise and its potential further expansion.
The Cullen Backstories Make Twilight Darker
The Twilight series and its movie adaptations are notoriously anodyne for a saga that is ostensibly about werewolves battling vampires. However, the Cullen family’s backstories are not quite as family-friendly, to put it mildly. There’s a lot of gory horror in the origin stories of the Cullens, as well as more mature themes, darker twists, and some full-throated tragedy. Edward’s adopted mother Esme Cullen being saved from a suicide attempt by Carlisle is a more impactful story than Edward’s superficially similar rescue of Bella, and it is not the only case of the Cullen family’s backstories adding some necessary edge to the Twilight franchise. Rosalie’s murderous rampage offers some bloodthirsty violence in a series that has fastidiously avoided gore despite centering its plot around a family of vampires, while Alice’s twisty tale of abuse, gaslighting, and revenge is more psychologically complex than most of the Twilight movies in their entirety.
Twilight’s Original Fans Are Ready (& Eager) For Darker Stories
Not only has television as a medium gotten a lot laxer about what can air in the years since the Twilight saga’s movie adaptations, but the target demographic of the Twilight saga is now older and more mature, too. When the movies were initially released in the late 00s, Twilight was True Blood’s PG alternative, and the novels and movies succeeded primarily because they appealed to a huge demographic of teenagers and preteens. However, those teenagers are now old enough to see stories like Alice’s visions allowing her to escape an abusive home, Rosalie’s violent vengeance, and Jackson’s seduction by a coven of vampires during the Civil War.
Twilight’s Backstories Expand The Franchise’s Universe
As the above summaries imply, the Cullen family’s backstories also allow the Twilight franchise to tell more stories than the painfully 00s original saga. The novels and movies are fairly dated to the period of their original release thanks to everything from the late 00s fashions to the soundtrack choices to the slang that the teen characters use, whereas the fact that the Cullen family’s backstories are spread across centuries lets viewers see more of the saga’s immersive world. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer has already written the tale of Carlisle briefly living with the Volturi, or Emmett Cullen being saved by an angelic Rosalie after his bloody battle with a wild bear. Unlike many franchises, the Twilight saga has both a built-in audience looking for new content and a treasure trove of un-adapted stories that are already written. While it would hard work for a Twilight prequel show to make viewers take the saga seriously again, the Cullen’s backstories provide enough drama and intrigue to make the prospect of going back to Forks irresistible for viewers of a certain age.