Throughout history, there have been many successful book franchises that have turned into huge blockbuster films – but none quite as big as the Twilight film series. In 2008, the first film in the series, Twilight, was released after three years of development.
This led to a huge film series with films such as New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn Part I and Breaking Dawn Part II. Each film just increased the fan base rapidly and soon became bigger than the previous film.
Whilst the film series was a huge box office success, the impact it had on popular culture was even bigger. From the moment the film series hit the big screen, audiences were absolutely blown away and many other mediums followed the trend with soft copies of Twilight.
How exactly did one small film franchise change the world? That’s exactly what we’ll be discussing in this article. So sit back, relax and find out exactly how the Twilight films changed the world.
Altered the perception of vampires
The concept of the dead returning to feed off the living became incredibly popular in Christian Europe during the twelfth century. By the 1700s, vampires were in popular culture and depicted vampires as cruel and grotesque creatures that defile pious maidens. This was continued through to Bram Stoker’s Dracula who plagues a poor seaside town.
Whilst, earlier depictions of vampires were alluring and enticing, they were deadly dangerous and were always destroyed in the end. There was no denying that vampires were evil and could not safely mingle with humans. Famously, F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu presents the audience with a disgusting-looking vampire as bald, ghoulish and most definitely someone you would not want to mingle with. However, this perception completely changed with the Twilight series.
Vampires were now cool, young and sparkly. They were nowhere near as threatening as they once were and could happily live amongst the humans in peace. This change in the perception of vampires led to other mediums creating content that showcases the forbidden romances between humans and vampires.
Many television shows such as True Blood and Vampire Diaries showcased sexy vampires that were both dangerous and kind to humans. It’s clear that audiences were desperate for more twisted romances between humans and vampires as both shows ran for over 7 seasons.
The popularity even spread to the iGaming world with the popular online slot called Immortal Romance. In terms of the premise, the game follows two young women in love with mysterious vampires. The attitude towards vampires had shifted to something modern and appealing to audiences. This would not have happened without the Twilight film franchise.
Kick-started the rise of YA adaptations
Young adult fiction books, also known as YA, have often been confused with adult fiction books – but there is a clear difference between them both. The protagonist is often in their teens in YA novels and adult fiction books are often told in a reflection of the past, usually in the third person.
Young adult novels appeal to all ages but primarily focus on younger demographics – especially teenagers. These stories provide themes of coming of age, self-discovery and first love, which make for excellent on-screen adaptations.
There’s no denying that Twilight is one of the most successful YA adaptations. As soon as movie executives saw the financial success of the Twilight film, many knew that YA adaptations were absolute gold mines. This was perfect for fans of YA novels as it led to a huge influx of adaptations.
Some of these adaptations were great successes such as the case with The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars. Unfortunately, there were many film adaptations that completely bombed such as the case with Mortal Instruments, Divergent and The Host.
Despite these failures, Twilight has arguably kick-started the rise of YA adaptations produced by Netflix with hit films such as The Kissing Booth and To All The Boys which have even spawned multiple sequels. This could not have happened without the success of the Twilight film series.
Popularised the ‘Mary Sue’ trope
Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart in the movie series, is the protagonist of Twilight and she is often hailed as the archetype of all Mary Sues. A Mary Sue character can be many things but she is often a female character that has no significant flaws, everyone loves, is effortlessly beautiful and someone who has no real growth throughout the story.
In the books, Bella Swan is described as plain but everyone fawns over her and instantly falls in love with her. Obviously, she has two main love interests with Edward and Jacob – but other guys in the series such as Mike, Eric and Tyler also fall for her as well, even though she is not overly interesting, attractive or endearing. Bella Swan most definitely has flaws but everyone loves them throughout the series and sees her as charming.
As the character is nothing spectacular but still popular, this allows readers (especially young women) to fantasise about being the Mary Sue character themselves and that they could become Bella Swan. Characters like Bella Swan act as wish fulfilment to audiences which is why the trope has become more popular in films since the release of Twilight.
That’s not to say the trope wasn’t in cinema or other mediums before, but Twilight catapulted the Mary Sue archetype leading to many copycats such as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey and Emily from Emily in Paris. Escapism and fantasy have always been at the heart of cinema and television, so the Mary Sue trope only adds to this element and ultimately makes the audience happy.
This would not have been half as popular if it wasn’t for the Twilight films. Many people sigh and cringe when they think of the Twilight films, but there’s no denying that they changed the landscape of the world as we know it.