Why Esme Has No Powers In The Twilight Movies
While it may seem as if Twilight's movie adaptations cut Esme Cullen's superpower for time, the character never had an ability in the novels either.
Most of Twilight’s vampires have superpowers tailored to their individual strengths, prompting some to wonder why the Cullen clan’s mother Esme doesn’t have any discernible secret skill. The Twilight saga changed a lot of details about traditional vampire lore, turning the bloodsucking creatures of earlier supernatural fiction into moping antiheroes who lived off animal blood and sparkled in the sun. However, despite the novels making vampires all but unrecognizable, the Twilight movies barely diverged from the source saga at all.
Early drafts of Twilight’s script contradicted the novels quite a lot, but the eventual movie that fans got was remarkably faithful to the books. As a result, the Twilight movies preserved some strange characters choices and odd details that are present in the original books but went unexplained. Among these was the inexplicable lack of powers possessed by Esme Cullen.
All of Twilight’s vampires, as a rule, have secret powers that align with their personal aptitudes. For example, Alice Cullen can show people their potential futures because she is attuned to the feelings of others, and Emmett Cullen’s brawniness in life manifests as super-strength in his enteral un-death. However, Esme Cullen has no powers in author Stephenie Meyers’ original Twilight novels and, as such, the supporting character ends up with no powers of her own in the movie adaptations either. This detail stands out when the rest of the family’s abilities are often called on in moments of conflict and Alice’s powers end up saving the day in the last movie’s final parts, making Esme’s lack of a special skill jarring.
In the Twilight novels, Esme’s lack of a specific strength is handwaved when Edward claims that she possesses “a strong ability to love passionately,” but she canonically has no special power despite every other vampire having one. It is an oversight that may have been intended to make her appear more maternal and less threatening as a character, but that’s also a pretty weak justification when every other vampire gets a straight-up superpower based on their strengths. Twilight’s original script made Bella a less passive character and earned criticism from some fans as a result, but Esme’s placid characterization is further proof that some of the saga’s heroines needed more tangible strengths to hold their own in an action-packed narrative.
That said, defenders of both the Twilight novels and movies have argued that the story’s heroines are comparatively under-served in terms of superpowers because that’s not what the plot centers on. Indeed, the Twilight saga is more concerned with Edward and Bella’s romance than any character’s specific abilities so, in this regard, it is arguably fitting that a depthless ability to love would be the strength afforded to Edward’s adoptive mother. Esme’s lack of a special power does underline the idea that the saga’s good vampires gain their strength from their humanity, rather than their vampirism, but the fact that Twilight’s movie adaptations made the story more violent and action-forward is arguably enough reason to give the character a more literal superpower. In any case, Esme Cullen’s lack of a superpower comes from the fidelity that Twilight’s movie adaptations had to their source material — for better or worse.