Twilight: Edward Cullen’s Dark Backstory Explained

Twilight: Edward Cullen’s Dark Backstory Explained

While Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen was the star of the Twilight saga, the movie adaptations largely forgot about the vampire’s dark backstory.

The Twilight movies focused on Robert Pattinson’s antihero Edward Cullen, but the adaptations didn’t do much to explain the character’s dark origin story. The Twilight movies had a tricky job when it came to adapting the best-selling novel saga of the same name authored by Stephanie Meyers. The Twilight novels had a devoted global fan base who wanted to see all of the lore of Twilight’s immersive fictional universe onscreen in the movie adaptations.

However, the creators of the Twilight movie adaptation had a limited budget and runtime to work with. Not only that, but Twilight’s movie adaptations even added new characters to flesh out some subplots, meaning other supporting stars got the short shrift. More than anything, the backstories of most of the Twilight saga’s main characters were truncated into brief flashbacks or ignored entirely since, while they may have fleshed out the characters, these origin stories weren’t relevant to the saga’s plot.

In some cases, jettisoning the backstories of the Twilight saga’s characters made a lot of sense. After all, viewers didn’t need to know that Edward Cullen’s adopted brother Emmett almost died fighting a bear to understand the Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle. However, not all of the elisions made by the Twilight movies are quite so easy to ignore. Most egregiously, Robert Pattinson’s Twilight franchise hero Edward Cullen lost most of his devastating backstory, which is briefly outlined in the movies but never explained in-depth despite the formative effect that its events have on Edward’s stoic antihero persona. Edward’s sad story starts back in 1900, and not a lot of it is explained in the Twilight movies, even though the impact of Edward Cullen’s dark backstory is central to his love story with Bella.

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When Edward Cullen Was Born

Unlike most of his adopted siblings in the Cullen coven (all of whom were born to different families before being turned into vampires years later), Edward was born to relatively well-adjusted, loving parents. However, his was not an easy childhood. Born in 1901 to a rich Chicago family, Edward grew up with comfortable wealth and a distant father and yearned for the day he could join the army and fight in WWI. Like Twilight franchise star Pattinson’s Batman, however, Edward’s life was struck by tragedy when he was still a child. When the Spanish flu epidemic of 1917 hit Illinois, the disease immediately killed his father and hospitalized both Edward and his mother. From there, things took an even darker turn.

How Edward Cullen (Almost) Died

When Edward and his mother were hospitalized with the flu soon after his father’s demise, they encountered the friendly doctor Carlisle Cullen. Edward’s mother soon died, but not before imploring Carlisle to save her son, as if seemingly aware that the doctor had more than natural means at his disposal. The doctor did his best with conventional medicine but couldn’t treat Edward’s influenza, eventually leading him to take drastic measures and turn the dying Edward into a vampire. Carlisle’s dark past as a vampire meant that this fate of eternal life was not one he doled out lightly. However, he had made a promise to Edward’s dying mother and intended to honor it, resulting in Edward being revived as a vampire shortly before he would have turned eighteen. While safe from Spanish flu, Edward was soon to discover that his worries were not entirely over yet.

The early years of each of the Twilight saga’s vampires are marked by a lot of bloodshed. In some cases, like that of Carlisle Cullen, this is because the bloodsuckers are learning to survive and need to eat something. In other cases, like the dark backstory of Edward’s adopted sister Rosalie, this is because the newborn, newly powerful vampires have some monstrously amoral human enemies who they still need to wreak bloody revenge upon. However, for Edward, his early years as a vampire were erratic for another reason. Although Carlisle and his mate Esme did their nest to help Edward acclimate to life as a vampire and offered him the option of drinking animal blood, the troubled young man found this change too much to comprehend and wanted more space to process.

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Edward’s Vigilante Killings

Thus, while he valued Carlisle’s guidance and fatherly care, Edward soon left Carlisle and Esme aside to practice another lifestyle. He became a vigilante vampire, killing and feeding off those he deemed morally reprehensible (his first victim was Esme’s abusive ex-husband). While the Twilight saga had none of True Blood’s R-rated gore, this period in Edward’s history does prove that the character was a traditional human-hunting vampire at one stage in his history before becoming the softer, animal-blood-drinking character seen in the Twilight movies. Eventually, Edward returned to his found family, but he did spend some time exploring the darker side of vampire life, and this is something missing from the Twilight movie adaptations.

Why Edward’s Missing Backstory Matters In The Twilight Movies

While Edward never seems entirely harmless, there is a reason that Pattinson famously complained his character “doesn’t do much vampire stuff.” The character racks up almost no villain kills in the course of the saga and doesn’t drink much human blood throughout any of the novels or movies, something that is explained by his canon backstory. However, the fact that the Twilight movies never focused on the Cullen family’s dark backstories means that many viewers left the cinema with the understandable impression that Edward Cullen was a vampire who had never drunk human blood or killed anyone. This made the Twilight movies feel even softer than their already sanitized source material should have felt, since Edward is canonically a vigilante killer who did survive on human blood for some years.

To be fair to the movie adaptations, Edward’s dark backstory is obliquely referenced a few times in the Twilight movies. However, the fact that this handful of comments about his past indiscretions don’t get more screen time and focus means that Edward does end up seeming fairly harmless as a character and is never depicted as the reformed killer of the novels. Admittedly, the Volturi’s villainous killers like Caius are far more amoral and dangerous than Edward ever was, even during his brief stint as a killer. However, a bit more moral ambiguity would have been welcome in the Twilight movies, since Edward seems utterly unprepared to take on these villains in a series of adaptations that never properly explain his history of violence to the uninitiated audience. note: Peter von Kant (2022) Kostenlos online anschauen HD


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