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Should The Twilight Saga Be Rebooted For Modern Audiences?

"Twilight" captured the hearts and imaginations of fans across the globe in the 2000s. The young adult vampire romance series, written by Stephenie Meyer, was first adapted for the big screen in 2008, with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson portraying star-crossed lovers Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. After "Twilight" came four sequels, each more popular than the last: "New Moon" (2009), "Eclipse" (2010), "Breaking Dawn — Part 1" (2011), and "Breaking Dawn — Part 2" (2012).

A decade later, the saga is still popular. The "Twilight" films became a trending topic in 2021, following the release of the entire series on Netflix. Social media has become host to a "'Twilight' Renaissance," highlighted by users sharing their fondest memories of the franchise and its fandom.

But it's not all roses and sparkles when it comes to "Twilight." Fans and critics alike have lambasted the saga for its problematic elements. But even so, this is the age of reboots: Anything is possible when it comes to reviving popular stories with contemporary flair. Could "Twilight" work as a rebooted series aimed at modern audiences? Let's explore the possibilities.

Twilight has always been controversial

Despite its popularity, "Twilight" has attracted significant controversy. Bella and Edward's romance has been accused of romanticizing unhealthy relationships. A vampire over a century old falling in love with a teenage girl is uncomfortable as is, but that's just the beginning. In the first "Twilight" film alone, Edward lies to Bella, threatens her life, breaks into her house to watch her sleep, and relishes every opportunity to let her know how appetizing she smells. It's not always clear why Bella falls in love with Edward in the movies, in fact. Don't rejoice just yet, Team Jacob fans — Bella's werewolf suitor is no better. "Eclipse" sees Jacob force a kiss on Bella in a twisted bid to prove her feelings for him. Jacob refuses to take no for an answer, even when Bella makes it clear — multiple times — that her heart belongs to Edward.

Romance isn't the only divisive element in play. Author Stephenie Meyer has come under fire for her portrayal of the Quileute people, a real-life Native American tribe "Twilight" takes major liberties with. The Quileute tribe never received royalties or compensation from the saga, despite the fact that "Twilight" makes major use of their history. Additionally, Meyer's depiction of Quileute characters as hot-headed, especially when juxtaposed against the calm and classy Cullen clan, has been criticized.

The Twilight Saga still has a dedicated fanbase

"Twilight" might not be perfect, but its popularity is indisputable. The "Twilight" franchise has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless fans with its vivid worldbuilding and plethora of interesting characters. From the beginning, the Cullens are shrouded in intrigue that draws fans in. The inclusion of the werewolf pack adds more lore to the series, and gives the storytelling unique texture. The rainy forests of Forks, Washington provide the perfect setting for this colorful tale of forbidden love. 

Additionally, many fans can relate to Bella. Audiences see themselves reflected in her, especially in terms of her flaws and insecurities. And of course, she and Edward have just one of many love stories in "Twilight." Alice and Jasper, Carlisle and Esme, and a number of other couples feature prominently in the series. When it comes to shippable pairs, fans of "Twilight" have all the romance they could ask for.

Plus, let's not forget the series' main selling point: vampires. If you like vampires — particularly vampire romance — then "Twilight" is right up your alley. True, the vampires in Forks are different from many of their genre counterparts, like Louis and Lestat from Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles." But their differences make them no less dangerous ... or alluring.

A Twilight reboot could diverge from the source material

The "Twilight" movies are faithful adaptations of the source material. A reboot of the franchise would likely have to diverge from Meyer's blueprint in order to pique and maintain fan interest. This opens up a world of opportunity for the story to progress in new, unexpected ways, while still staying true to the central theme of Bella and Edward's love story.

Changes to the source material could include a stint at college for Bella and Edward, postponing Renesmee's birth and Bella's transformation into a vampire. Omitting Renesmee entirely could shake up the story as well. Bella's half-vampire baby proved to be controversial in a number of ways: The "Breaking Dawn" movies feature a CGI rendition of Renesmee that has been widely mocked, and Jacob's relationship to her leaves many fans uncomfortable. Cutting out Renesmee in favor of exploring Bella and Edward's relationship in a college setting would excise these issues and provide entirely new storytelling territory.

Alternatively, a reboot could go all-in on telling a completely different story altogether. Bella doesn't have to end up with Edward at all — maybe Jacob manages to sway her heart, leading to a new ending where Bella doesn't become a vampire. Another route entirely could see Bella reject both of her love interests. Considering how creepy Edward and Jacob can be, this might just be her happiest possible ending.

A Twilight reboot could be even more faithful to the books

Though the original films stick closely to the books, a "Twilight" reboot could end up being an even more faithful adaptation of Meyer's series. Many character dynamics come across differently on the screen versus the page — Bella and Edward's bond especially departs from Meyer's vision. In the books, the duo shares more banter, challenging each other with varying viewpoints in a way that ultimately brings them closer together. Intense staring is more cinematic, admittedly, but staring isn't enough to sell a love story on its own.

Fans need to understand why Bella and Edward fall in love with each other. A reboot could include scenes of the couple getting to know each other, with some light-hearted quipping working to offset the star-struck nature of their early relationship. A great example of this arrives in the first "Twilight" book, when Bella and Edward bond over music. This is shown briefly in the first film, but never explored in much depth.

"Eclipse" is a turning point for Bella and Edward. After their break up in "New Moon," Bella and Edward's relationship grows stronger than ever in the third installment. Edward still isn't a healthy boyfriend, per se, but he learns to listen to Bella and comes to understand her. A reboot could emphasize this process, which would — ironically — humanize their relationship and make it easier for fans to root for them.

Twilight, the Netflix series

A "Twilight" reboot could certainly produce a new series of movies. But what if "Twilight" was adapted for the small screen? Netflix has done a fantastic job adapting beloved book series like "Shadow And Bone" and "Bridgerton." Producing a quality "Twilight" series certainly seems like something the streaming service is capable of.

Adapting Stephenie Meyer's books into a Netflix series would allow the "Twilight" story to unfold in a whole new way. Beloved book scenes excised from the movies could be included, providing more depth to the series' setting, cast, and mythology. Secondary characters in particular would have much more time to develop and round out the story. Bella's human friends from Forks High School would definitely benefit from increased screen time: Just imagine how much fun it could be to watch the observant Angela Weber, Bella's best friend (besides Alice and Jacob) in the books, put her own clues together regarding the Cullens. What "Twilight" fan wouldn't want to spend more time with the people of Forks, Washington?

A Twilight reboot could explore the Cullens in greater depth

Fans don't get to spend much time with the Cullens in the "Twilight" films. As Edward's vampire family contains some of the richest, most vibrant characters in the series, this is a major shame. Carlisle, the patriarch, is over 300 years old, and has mastered his bloodlust to the point where he can work in hospitals as a doctor without ever snacking on patients. The son of a Anglican pastor, Carlisle was turned by a vampire he and his father were hunting. Rather than hurt innocent people, Carlisle learned to feed on animals to satiate his bloodlust and live by strict rules, becoming the first "vegetarian" vampire.

Carlisle isn't the only Cullen with a complex backstory. Alice, originally known as Mary Alice Brandon, was imprisoned in an asylum during her human years, thanks to her psychic visions. James, the tracker who attacks Bella in "Twilight," caught Alice's scent and resolved to kill her, prompting another vampire to turn Alice to keep her safe. The other Cullens have similarly interesting histories.

It's not just about their backstories, however. As vampires who fight against their nature, the Cullens could be the most interesting aspect of a "Twilight" reboot. Give viewers scenes of Carlisle at work, or cute moments between Alice and Jasper! Let us know what the Cullens really think of Edward and Bella's romance! The storytelling possibilities are endless.

More screen time for the werewolves could happen in a Twilight reboot

Bella discovers vampires in "Twilight" and werewolves in "New Moon," but they have equal importance in the series. Both the Cullens and the werewolf pack go to great lengths to protect Bella and the citizens of Forks from dangerous nomads like James and Victoria.

One pack member who deserves increased time in the spotlight is Leah Clearwater. Played by Julia Jones in the films, Leah is the only female werewolf in Jacob's pack, making her on-screen debut in "Eclipse." The books explore her story with significantly more depth than the movies do. She phases for the first time after her father Harry's death, and joins her ex's pack. Eventually, however, she breaks away and becomes the beta wolf of Jacob's pack.

It would be great to see Leah's story expanded on screen in a rebooted "Twilight" series, especially since her character has a dedicated fanbase that's still going strong. Developing Leah and the rest of the Quileute pack — and making sure the actual Quileute people see some of the reboot's proceeds – could be a great way to reward the dedication of those fans.

Bella Swan, heroine of a Twilight reboot

It's pretty hard for Bella to not be a damsel, surrounded as she is by indestructible vampires and werewolves. But this shouldn't rob her of agency. Bella has proved to be a relatable character, despite — or even because — of her many flaws. Her clumsiness and general awkwardness are true to life for many fans. However, Bella's character has drawn criticism for revolving around her love interests. Rebooting "Twilight" presents the perfect opportunity to fix this.

Bella can be fumbling and vulnerable, but she can also be headstrong and determined. Instead of backing down to Edward, she could challenge him and call him out for his strange behavior. Bella is also more snarky in the books, something a reboot series would do well to incorporate. This gives her character definition and appeal, and offers her actor a whole lot more personality to work with.

Bella 2.0 could also pursue other activities outside of school and Edward. She loves books — maybe she attends a book club, or is writing a book of her own. Developing her friendships with her human buddies, like Angela and Jessica, would also be a great idea, as it would make her decision to say goodbye to her human life that much more bittersweet.

A Twilight reboot could develop Edward's character

Bella Swan isn't the only character who could benefit from the in-depth development a reboot series could offer. Edward's character has been mired in controversy since the release of the first "Twilight" film in 2008, primarily due to his behavior toward Bella. Rebooting the series could mean rebooting the character, however. Edward doesn't have to be perfect — he just needs to learn, develop, and grow as he transitions from being a vampire perpetually on the outside to someone deeply in love with a normal human like Bella Swan.

A "Twilight" reboot could take inspiration from "Midnight Sun," Stephenie Meyer's latest release in the "Twilight" saga. The 2020 book tells the same story "Twilight" does, but from Edward's perspective. Plenty of scenes from "Midnight Sun" could easily be added to a "Twilight" reboot, providing Edward's relationships, background, and feelings for Bella with greater depth. Edward's interactions with the other Cullens remain off-screen in the "Twilight" series — that's something a reboot could easily address by incorporating elements from "Midnight Sun." And who doesn't want to spend more time with the Cullens?

Bella and Alice's friendship could thrive in a reboot series

Bella's friendship with Alice Cullen is a key part of the "Twilight" series. In fact, Bella's strongest platonic relationship in the books is the one she shares with Alice. In their very first meeting, Alice informs Bella that they're destined to be friends. Unlike Rosalie, whose relationship with Bella is frosty pre-Renesmee, Alice forms a close bond with Bella immediately and supports her decision to join the Cullen clan as a fledgling vampire.

A reboot series would do well to devote more time to Alice and Bella's bond. For one thing, it could help the series pass the Bechdel test, a classic feminist metric which requires a movie to feature two female characters having a conversation about something other than a man. Passing such a test signifies a movie has invested in its female characters in a way that would only make the "Twilight" story stronger.

It would also be an easy feat — Bella and Alice have a lot to talk about. Both have been targeted by James, both share strong moral compasses, and both eventually share the experience of being vampires. Alice could divulge everything she remembers about her past to Bella, causing the two to open up to each other. If nothing else, it would be nice for Bella to have a best friend who isn't in love with her.

Would a reboot series still be Twilight?

With all these adaptational options in the air, one question becomes glaringly obvious: Would a "Twilight" reboot that made all these changes still be "Twilight"? How much can the original story be altered before it's no longer the same story? Herein lies the challenge at the heart of a "Twilight" reboot. 

The central story of "Twilight" is simple: A human girl falls in love with a vampire. Their forbidden love drives the narrative throughout "New Moon," "Eclipse," and "Breaking Dawn," culminating with Bella becoming a vampire and spending eternity with Edward. If Bella and Edward's love story remains the focal point of the series, then, theoretically, a "Twilight" reboot could still work, even with some heavy editing aimed at a modern audience. Just because it can be rebooted, however, doesn't necessarily mean it should be. "Twilight" has a passionate fanbase, and many of its most ardent devotees enjoy the nostalgia the movies offer. Rebooting the vampire romance series would be a gamble. Whether that gamble would pay off or not remains unclear — for now.