The soft-spoken Jasper Cullen (or Hale) may be one of the Cullen clan’s quietest members, but he has one of the most gruesome canon backstories of any Twilight character. Beginning in 2008 with Catherine Hardwicke’s grey-filtered teen romance Twilight, the Twilight saga was a series of blockbuster movies based on the paranormal novel series of the same name by American author Stephenie Meyer. Buoyed by supporting turns from Billy Black and Cam Gigandet as the campy villain James, the first film in the series told the story of Edward Cullen, a moody vampire, and his infatuation with human teenager Bella.
Despite receiving consistent brutal reviews from critics, the Twilight saga was a hit with its intended audience of teenage girls and even won over some older fans with its streak of self-aware humor. As the Twilight movies continued the saga, the lore of the series grew more complex and the truncated runtime of the Twilight adaptations meant that many major elements of the series were elided or compressed. As is often the case with book-to-movie adaptations, some of these changes left fans dismayed.
Like the Harry Potter series before it, the Twilight movies struggled to keep fans happy while also keeping runtimes reasonable and a handful of key moments were missing from each book’s movie adaptation. This was a particularly prevalent problem for new director Chris Weitz, who won over few fans when Hardwicke didn’t return for the first Twilight sequel New Moon. Fortunately, Weitz was himself replaced by 30 Days of Night director David Slade, who brought an appropriately dark edge to the series. Slade’s lone Twilight outing Eclipse was considered by many to be the strongest standalone movie in the saga, thanks in no small part to the intriguing backstory that the adaptation provided for Jasper Cullen. Until then a minor character, in Eclipse Jasper was granted a lengthy, gruesome flashback which delved into a tale of deception, betrayal, anguish, and not a little bl00d in its dark story set over a hundred years before the action of Twilight.
Jasper Was A Confederate Soldier
It’s clear from the start of Jasper’s lengthy tale he tells Bella that, like his adopted sister Rosalie Cullen, the character had a pretty brutal backstory. Even before becoming a vampire, Jasper was enlisted on the wrong side of the US civil war, and his time spent in service isn’t exactly glamorized in the brief glimpses Eclipse offers of the conflict. There, Jasper sees endless ɗᥱαꚍɧ and destruction which takes a sizeable mental toll, with the skillful soldier eventually ferrying refugees from affected areas when constant combat becomes too intense to bear. However, the horrors of war don’t come to a close to the start of Jasper’s torment when he comes across a coven of vampires while transporting refugees.
Jasper’s Vampire Transformation
In a scene worthy of the campy violent vampire drama Interview With a Vampire, Jasper is turned after being seduced during a moonlit night by a trio of beautiful vampires whose leader is looking to build an army. It’s a dark and surprisingly atmospheric sequence for the Twilight series, but unlike Rosalie’s tonally jarring backstory, Jasper’s violent entrapment doesn’t stray too far into explicit territory for Eclipse. Thus begins Jasper’s decades of turning innocent civilians into vampires, with the newborn vampire training each of his coven’s victims to become soldiers and mercy-ƙ𝔦ℓℓing those who couldn’t handle their new life. It’s never clarified whether Jasper’s coven is attempting to overthrow the Romanian coven or the Volturi, but judging by the lore of Twilight Marcus, Are, and co should be in power in Europe at this stage. Not that it matters much to Jasper, though. The sensitive character soon finds the process of turning humans into vampires, only to often ƙ𝔦ℓℓ them, leaves him ɗᥱαɗ inside. That’s what leads to Jasper’s eventual escape from his creator’s clutches.
Jasper’s Happy Ending
After this grim ordeal, it’s reasonable to question whether the Twilight saga could hope to grant Jasper anything like a happy ending. However, as Rosalie’s backstory and the surprisingly bl00dless climax of Breaking Dawn Part 2 both prove, the series is consistently able to offer hope at the tail end of even the darkest tales. Eventually coming across Ashley Greene’s empathetic Alice after absconding from his creator and her vampire army, Jasper is told about the Cullen clan. Edward’s chosen family, the Cullens, are a brood of vampires who live in harmony with humans and feed on animal bl00d, an option which apparently hadn’t occurred to Jasper in his years of brooding over ƙ𝔦ℓℓing humans for sustenance.
Alice convinces Jasper to seek out the Cullens with her and he falls for her before they meet the family, becoming her mate for life (or unɗᥱαꚍɧ, as it were). Soon after starting a new, less hopeless life with Alice, Jasper and his mate encounter the Cullens and he learns that the misery he felt while ƙ𝔦ℓℓing came from his ability to share a psychic link with others, something he had even before becoming a vampire. With the clan’s help, he stops feeding on humans and hones his empathetic abilities, which come in handy later in the Twilight series.
How Jasper’s Backstory Affects Twilight
As proven by the presence of Rami Malek’s element-bending Benjamin, the action of Breaking Dawn Part 2 requires every vampire in the Twilight universe to join the Cullens against the Volturi. However, not many of these undead legions, well-meaning as they are, have much in the way of combat training. That’s where Jasper’s military training and long history of creating vampire soldiers comes in handy, as he trains the Cullen’s vampire and werewolf allies to face off against the Volturi in the climactic battle of the series. In the final film, it’s a sequence that could easily have seemed like an unlikely deus ex machina. But fortunately, the training montage scene works in the mile-a-minute movie adaptation of Breaking Dawn Part 2 because Jasper’s backstory has been well-established in Eclipse.
Slade’s economic visual storytelling ensures that Jasper’s backstory makes for a memorable addition to the Twilight saga without overwhelming proceedings the way Rosalie’s bleak origins do in the same film, and the western-meets-horror story is another of the director’s surprisingly dark and intense addition to what is otherwise a largely light-hearted franchise.