The Twilight series depicts werewolves imprinting on their love interests as a romantic phenomenon, but there are dark implications behind the seemingly sweet veneer of this idea. Released in 2008, Thirteen director Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight was a massive hit with audiences worldwide despite the undeniably cheesy teen movies upsetting legions of critics. An adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling paranormal young adult romance trilogy of the same name, the Twilight saga soon dropped Hardwicke as their director but remained financially successful throughout its next three cinematic installments (although even series star Robert Pattinson joined in on mocking the Twilight movies)
Much of what made the Twilight saga so popular (as well as so divisive) was the saga’s reinvention of the vampire and werewolf mythos. Whether this reinvention was inspired or inane was up to each Twilight viewer to decide, but from the late ‘00s through to the early ‘10s it was hard to avoid mention of “sparkly vampires” when discussing the mythical monsters as Meyers’ version of the beasts became a hot topic among genre fans.
However, the legendary bloodsuckers weren’t the only paranormal threat that Meyers’ Twilight series saw fit to reinvent. In a move that upset many members of the real-life Quileute nation, the Twilight series cast indigenous Americans as werewolves whose biology and mythology followed a different set of rules from most fictional shapeshifters. Supposedly inspired by native mythology (a claim questioned by many critics), Twilight’s werewolves operated in a wholly different way from any werewolves that came before them, and one of their most controversial character details was the process of “imprinting.” A way of mating for life, imprinting allowed Meyer to end her famous “Team Edward versus Team Jacob” Twilight love triangle once and for all — while also opening up a world of unfortunate implications for the mythology of the Twilight series in the process.
How Imprinting Works In Twilight
According to the lore of the Twilight series, imprinting happens when any werewolf creates an unbreakable, abiding bond with a human. This process, which occurs between Jacob Black and the newborn Renesmee at the close of the Twilight saga, allowed Meyer’s story to explain away Jacob’s attachment to Bella Swan (Renesmee’s mother), who by this point was happily married to Edward Cullen. Imprinting as a concept is mentioned earlier in the series and outlined by other Twilight characters before this deus ex machina solves the love triangle, but the process’s strange implications are never dwelled on or elaborated on further. While the premise of a deeply felt bond could be a romantic idea, according to Twilight, there’s nothing to stop adults imprinting on children (as occurs between Jacob and Renesmee) or werewolves imprinting on unwilling humans.
Werewolves Can Imprint On Anyone
In the Twilight series, viewers are informed that werewolves run hot and wear their passion on their sleeves, a nature contrasted with the more demure and bloodless vampires of the series. Of course, the fact that the series’ werewolves are uniformly indigenous people raises the specter of some unfortunate stereotypes surrounding native peoples, but there are other issues with this characterization when it comes to the idea of imprinting. One of Twilight’s werewolves — a dangerous, superhuman being that’s nigh-on impossible to ƙ𝔦ℓℓ or stop — can imprint on ay human they like, and Jacob claims “no one can resist” how obsessive their love will be. Speaking of Jacob, as proven by his unprovoked attack on Mike in New Moon, werewolves can be quick to anger and resort to violence. So, the idea of a werewolf who has imprinted on an unknowing human translates to a supernatural stalker if the person doesn’t reciprocate the attraction, something that the Twilight series never clarifies they are guaranteed to do outside of Jacob’s vague, unsubstantiated boasting.
Werewolves Can’t Control Themselves After Imprinting
After imprinting, Twilight’s versions of werewolves lose all control of themselves and will do anything to appease the human they’ve imprinted on. There’s no reason to think this doesn’t include crime, evil, ɱʋrɗᥱr, and any other amoral act that their beloved wants to be done, not to mention that this loss of free will sounds like a psychological nightmare. Also, should any grown adult (like Jacob Black) be doing the unquestioned bidding of a small child (like Renesmee), especially an adult with a short fuse and edgy temper? Controversial character Jacob has hardly proven himself a mature or worldly figure throughout the action of the Twilight saga, and instead had repeatedly turned to violence and intimidation in the hopes of getting his way. How much worse will this behavior be when he has a potent drive to enact the will of a literal child?
Furthermore, the prevalence of violence and wanton cruelty in the world of Twilight makes this setup all the more worrying. In the Cullen clan alone, there is a slew of marital abuse, parental abuse, assault, torture, and ɱʋrɗᥱr in the brutal back stories of Twilight’s vampire family, meaning fans of Twilight can be sure that the humans of the series are at best a morally mixed bunch. Should any random human plucked from this milieu be given control of a primal ƙ𝔦ℓℓing machine solely because one of Twilight’s werewolves took a shine to them? The humans of the Cullen’s backstories didn’t even have a werewolf at their disposal when they enacted the brutal cruelties that they inflicted on others, so what would they have done with a mythical beast to wield against whoever they disliked?
How This Affects The Twilight Series
If the Twilight series ever returns (particularly, as is most likely, from Renesmee’s older perspective), the creepy implications of imprinting as a practice will need to be addressed eventually. Continuing the story from her perspective could potentially be interesting, as Renesmee is rapidly maturing by the end of the original Twilight series and growing into a hitherto-unseen vampire-human hybrid who may be able to bridge the gaps between the very different species. However, she is also implicitly promised to a grown adult man in the form of Jacob Black, and although he has promised to “nurture her,” the creepy implications of both this specific relationship and the broader concept of imprinting will need to be front and center in any continuation of the Twilight mythos.