Despite the saga’s author Stephenie Meyers saying that series human heroine Bella couldn’t be expected to face down vampires alone, the original script of Twilight’s movie adaptation saw her do just that. For years, a debate has raged among the Twilight fandom about Bella Swan. The heroine of the paranormal romance series is seen by some readers and viewers as a relatable figure, being realistically overwhelmed by the revelation that vampires and werewolves are not only real but all around her.
However, other Twilight fans found Bella’s inactivity to be infuriating and disliked how little the protagonist of the saga contributes to its action. Twilight’s movie adaptions made the story more violent, but very little of the bloodshed comes from Bella and the character remains comparatively meek throughout the entire franchise. However, this was not always going to be the case.
Screenwriter Mark Lord’s early script for the Twilight’s adaptation took the opposite approach, casting Bella as a shotgun-wielding, vampire-blasting action heroine. This was in direct opposition to series author Stephenie Meyers, who argued that no human could fight vampires no matter how strong they were. Pressed about Bella’s passivity, Meyers famously noted that Twilight’s heroine is a human among immortals. The author felt it was unfair to call her a weak female character since she couldn’t contend with vampires and werewolves, something that Meyers underlined in her gender-flipped Twilight re-telling Life and Death. However, Lord’s script completely contradicted Meyers’ point that vampires were an impossible threat for normal people to face by making Bella a violent vigilante.
This change would have fundamentally reshaped the Twilight movie adaptations and resulted in a franchise that bore little resemblance to the original novels. In contrast, eventual screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg’s Twilight screenplay was almost too faithful to the text, preserving Bella’s passivity along with almost everything else from the novel. It is tough to know whether or not Lord’s more action-packed treatment would have made fans who disliked Bella’s inactivity happy. After all, Lord’s Twilight script broke so much with the original story that even fans who can’t stand Bella may have found it bore too little resemblance to Meyers’ books.
Luckily for Bella’s defenders, the planned Paramount adaptation of Twilight was eventually shelved and the saga that made it to cinemas was far closer to the story of the novels. This meant that Kristen Stewart’s Bella remained a passive, meek character even after becoming a vampire near the end of the Twilight saga, something that reviewers took issue with upon the movie’s release. However, Twilight’s sizable fandom was seemingly happy with the approach, judging by the impressive box office returns racked up by the series. There is no knowing whether Lord’s treatment of Twilight would have managed to make as much of a splash financially, but the draft certainly flew in the face of everything that the original saga’s author said about her lead character.