Twilight: Emmett Cullen’s Bizarre Backstory

Twilight's Emmett Cullen became a vampire thanks to a bizarre bear attack, which is a moment the movie adaptations sadly declined to portray.

Most of the character backstories in Twilight are as dark and self-serious as the vampire movies themselves, but Emmett Cullen has a quirky, drama-free origin that the film adaptations could have benefitted from adding. Beginning in 2008 with Lords of Dogtown director Catherine Hardwicke’s sleeper smash Twilight, the saga was a series of blockbusters based on the young adult romance trilogy of the same name by Stephanie Meyer. The Twilight movies may have done impressive business at the global box office but the films were often maligned by critics, and even occasionally mocked by their own stars, such as Robert Pattison admitting he regretted his role due to embarrassment.

A lot of the hate for Twilight came from an eagerness to dismiss the series’ popularity amongst its target audience of teenagers, but there were serious flaws with the Twilight movie adaptations outside of this superficial mockery. One fair critique frequently leveled at the movies was that, much like their maudlin source material, they took themselves a touch too seriously. A dead-serious tale of vampires and werewolves, the Twilight saga injected little levity into its film versions, leading critics to rejoice when 30 Days of Night director David Slade brought some much-needed self-aware humor to the third entry, Eclipse.

Despite featuring a lighter tone in general, Eclipse also found room in its runtime for some sad Twilight backstories for the Cullen clan’s members. However, one character whose odd story should have made it into the sequel is Emmett Cullen, bear wrestler and general comic relief of the otherwise po-faced saga. After a string of characteristically dramatic and maudlin origins for the rest of the clan, it falls on gentle giant Emmett to have the most surreal and surprisingly light-hearted pre-vampire past in the Twilight series.

Emmett Cullen’s Hunting Prowess

Emmett arm wrestles Bella in Breaking Dawn

Well before becoming a human-hunting bloodsucker – more on the issue of his persistent carnivorous tastes later – the young Emmett was a skilled fisherman and hunter who could feed his family thanks to his considerable skill and strength. However, this is not to say that Emmett’s abilities didn’t also get him into trouble as an impressionable young man (although his skills at least didn’t get him imprisoned, unlike his eventual adopted sister Alice Cullen’s). Emmett was a wild child from birth, and by the time his adolescence rolled around, the sizeable brawler was constantly getting into fights with humans and animals alike. Despite his playful nature, Emmett stayed out of serious trouble as he was usually busy feeding his family thanks to his hunting prowess, a habit that eventually led him into a dangerous, bizarre fight at the age of 20.

Emmett Vs The Bear

Emmett running in Twilight.

Where most Twilight vampires became bloodsuckers due to traumatic circumstances such as Rosalie’s horrific assault, Carlisle’s fatal attack or Esme’s suicide attempt, Emmett’s death was more reminiscent of The Revenant. The circumstances of his demise are a lot less grounded and goofier in a rare bit of dark humor for the Twilight series, as Meyer reveals that – for no apparent reason – the young hunter was attacked by a black bear he then tried to unsuccessfully wrestle. This surreal scene resulted in his fatal, inevitable wounding until Carlisle and Rosalie Cullen happened upon the dying Emmett, a fortuitous coincidence that further reinforces the belief he might be the luckiest character in the saga. While most of Twilight’s transformations happen in grim settings like Edward’s Spanish flu-struck hospital or Rosalie’s roadside death bed, Emmett just happened to be in the right stretch of secluded woods at the right time and lucked into eternal life as a result.

Emmett And Rosalie’s Relationship

Emmett and Rosalie in Twilight

As one does when granted immortality by a passing good Samaritan, Emmett understandably fell in love with the beautiful, troubled Rosalie after being turned. Luckily, his simple, good-hearted nature was a balm to Rosalie’s dark past, and the pair soon became a couple – that is after Emmett, initially confused by his saviors, realized Rosalie and Carlisle weren’t an angel and god, as he had first assumed. Again, the backstory features a lot of quirky humor like this that the Twilight movies were missing almost entirely, something that made its absence from Eclipse in favor of Rosalie and Jasper Cullen’s darker stories hard to excuse.

Twilight’s Restrained Vampires

Twilight Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen Baseball Scene

However, not everything about Emmett’s new life came to him naturally. Unlike most of the Twilight saga’s vampires, Emmett does have a history of feeding on humans in addition to animal blood. The feckless bruiser took a long time to adjust to feeding off animal blood alone, struggling with the restrained “vegetarian vampire” approach invented by his adopted dad Carlisle Cullen. Where most of the series’ heroes have a heroic self-control that stops them from feeding off people, Emmett’s boorish nature meant he slipped up and ate a few neighbors occasionally. Luckily for Bella, his hunger was in check before the saga’s story begins, but it’s a nice touch that not every Cullen can boast the same heroic streak in common.

Why The Twilight Movies Cut Emmett’s Backstory

Twilight Kellan Lutz Emmett Cullen

It’s a shame the Twilight movies cut Emmett’s surprisingly fun backstory since the self-serious franchise could have done with a dose of comic relief. In an interview for Twilight’s tenth anniversary, Emmett’s actor Kellan Lutz noted he’d love to see Meyer’s “Emmett and the Bear” short story adapted to the screen, as the character’s unique origin is an undeniably cinematic one. Unfortunately, as strange and interesting as this Cullen’s backstory might be, the scene doesn’t really fit with the self-consciously grim tone the movies built, meaning it was all but inevitable Emmett and the bear would never make it to the big screen. That said, it’s understandable the saga jettisoned Emmett’s backstory when the stakes of his tale are comparatively low and there’s little character development to cover. Nonetheless, it’s still a shame one of Twilight’s most left-field moments didn’t get a movie incarnation, so here’s hoping Lutz gets his wish one way or another in the future.

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