Admit it: you’ve read the Twilight books or watched the The Twilight Saga films at least once in your life.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Looking back, some of us may have had an embarrassing Twilight phase where we’d fight with random strangers on the internet on whether we’re #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob. Some of us may have even waited hours in line just to be one of the first to watch it when it premiered in your area.
The order of watching The Twilight Saga films are fairly straightforward: start with the first film, Twilight, followed by The Twilight Sage: New Moon, and then The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and then The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, then finally end it with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. The films stay true to the books and, except for the final movie split into two, features the main problem that was mentioned in the books.
But fans of Stephenie Meyer’s saga know that The Twilight Saga wasn’t supposed to end in 2012 after the final film was released. This is because around 2008, we were expecting Meyer to finish and publish a book called Midnight Sun within the next few years. What is Midnight Sun?
It’s the events of Twilight – told through Edward Cullen’s perspective.
What Happened to Midnight Sun?
In 2008, around the time the book Breaking Dawn was published and the film Twilight was released, Meyer hinted that she was writing a book called Midnight Sun, which was the retelling of Twilight, but told from Edward’s point of view. In her first four books, the story was told from protagonist Bella Swan’s perspective, which meant that the readers were limited to everything Bella saw and experienced.
Midnight Sun promised readers the chance to see Edward’s thoughts and actions the moment he first noticed Bella, including his initial reaction to her irresistible scent. Meyer said it was more exciting because in Bella’s perspective, all she saw was Edward “looking at her funny,” but in Edward’s perspective, there was the shock and frustration of meeting a human who finally peaked his interest. The book also featured where Edward went to on days when he would disappear.
However, around August 2008, a partial draft of the book was leaked onto the internet. Due to her feelings about the leak, Meyer decided to put the book on an indefinite hold and focus on her other writing projects. She did, however, publish a rough draft of the first 12 chapters of Midnight Sun on her website.
It’s been 11 years since the incident, but Meyer hasn’t released an update on whether or not the book will push through. In 2015, Meyer released Life and Death. Fans expected this to be the official release of Midnight Sun, but Meyer stated in the book’s foreword that this wasn’t Midnight Sun that showed Edward’s perspective of Twilight, but rather a book with swapped gender roles: it features a human male named Beau and a vampire named Edythe.
Midnight Sun’s Position in the Series
Let’s say that Meyer is actually secretly writing Midnight Sun at the moment and intends to publish it late 2019 or sometime in 2020. If that was the case and Hollywood decided to make it a film, where would it fall in The Twilight Saga movie order?
Some film series are simply sequential: in films like Harry Potter, Divergent, and The Hunger Games, the most logical way to watch it is according to the years each installment was released. Other series, like Star Wars and Lord of The Rings, feature prequels released as sequels, meaning you can watch it according to the year it was released, but if you want to watch it according to the film’s timeline, you have to watch the later films before the older films.
So, where would Midnight Sun’s position be in the five movies if it were to become a film? Some people may say should go between the first and second film (Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, respectively), but here’s why I think it belongs at the very end.
First Movie: Twilight
My main argument is that by trying to squeeze Midnight Sun into the already established timeline of events, you’re breaking the flow constructed by the first five movies. You have to remember: Stephenie Meyer said she came up with the idea of Midnight Sun out of the blue, which meant it was never meant to be a part of the canon four books. To prove that, let’s recap on the story told by The Twilight Saga divided into films.
The first movie, Twilight, introduces the audience to Isabella “Bella” Swan, a young girl who moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father while her mother and new stepfather travel. The town of Forks is cold and bleak and rarely has a sunny day, and Bella is immediately drawn to a young man in her school, Edward Cullen. Bella soon learns that Edward is a 110-year old vampire frozen at the age of 17 and his family are actually a coven of vampires who feed on animal blood.
They fall in love, but immediately after, Bella attracts the attention of nomadic vampires who are drawn to her scent and try to kill her. Edward saves her, and Bella proposes he turn her into a vampire so they can be safe together, but he refuses.
The first movie establishes the film’s world, how vampires work, and how Bella sees it through her eyes. By placing the movie in between this and New Moon, you would be seeing the same movie, but through another pair of eyes. Not only is it redundant, but it also confuses the rest of the flow of the other movies since they shift back to Bella’s perspective.
Second Movie: New Moon
The second film takes place shortly after the events of the last one. Edward is worried that Bella being near him and his world puts her at risk, and the threat is made clear when one of Edward’s adoptive brothers, Jasper, tries to attack Bella when she sustains a paper cut. While Jasper means well, he is still a new vampire who craves for blood. This, on top of the fact that two of the nomadic vampires are probably still after her, leads Edward to believe that Bella is not safe near him and the Cullens abandon Bella and disappear without a trace.
Bella falls into a depression until she reunites with her childhood friend, Jacob Black, who she finds out is a werewolf. Jacob falls in love with her and protects her from a nomad vampire with his pack. Bella finds that putting herself in thrill-inducing situations leads her to see a figure of Edward, so she jumps off a cliff into the ocean, having seen several of Jacob’s friends perform it safely. Alice suddenly returns, having had a vision of Bella jumping off a cliff and then a funeral held in Forks shortly after (this was actually a funeral for a family friend of Bella and Jacob). Alice realizes she did not see Bella’s future clearly because werewolves in Bella’s presence are blocking her ability to see. She tells her that Edward believes she is dead and has gone to the Volturi (a vampire coven who rule as the de facto leaders of all vampire-kind) to commit suicide. Alice has a vision that the Volturi will refuse Edward’s request, so Edward will reveal himself as a vampire in front of humans to force them to kill him.
Bella and Alice fly to Italy to stop Edward just in time. The Volturi find out about Bella and fear that she knows too much about their existence. They give Edward a choice: either he change her into a vampire or they will kill her. Alice shows them a vision of the future where both Bella and Edward are vampires, though Edward is reluctant to do so. The Cullens return to Forks, and Jacob argues that if Edward turns Bella into a vampire, the treaty keeping the werewolves and vampires from attacking each other will be broken. However, Bella insists this is her choice and should not affect the treaty. Edward agrees to change Bella into a vampire but only if she marries him.
Third Movie: Eclipse
Victoria, the final nomadic vampire, seeks revenge against Bella and the Cullens. She raises an army of newborn vampires, which are much stronger than older vampires due to the higher amount of human blood in their system. Meanwhile, Bella is still unsure about marrying at a young age, since she is now already technically a year older than Edward when he became a vampire. Edward, however, wants her to live a normal human life, even if it means Bella matures into an old woman.
When they discover what Victoria is planning, the Cullens and Jacob’s pack unite to defend Forks against the army of newborns. Eventually, they are successful and kill Victoria and all her newborns. Bella realizes she loves Jacob, but she decides she wants to spend an eternity with Edward and accepts his proposal. Jacob promises not to come between the two of them.
Fourth Movie: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Fourth and fifth in the order of Twilight films are from the Breaking Dawn book split into two movies. Bella and Edward get married with the intent to consummate their marriage on their honeymoon before turning her into a vampire – an act Jacob knows may harm Bella due to Edward’s strength as a vampire. Two weeks after their consummation, Bella sees symptoms of a pregnancy, and this is confirmed when Alice has a vision confirming it. Carlisle, Edward’s adoptive father, insists Bella abort the baby for her own safety, as they aren’t sure what a half-vampire baby can do to a human mother, and is supported by Alice, Edward, and Jacob. However, Bella convinces Edward’s sister, Rosalie, to protect her and the baby, which grows rapidly.
Eventually, they agree to honor Bella’s wishes and keep the baby, even going as far as to drink human blood to sate the baby. Unfortunately, the baby is growing so rapidly that Bella’s body can no longer support the baby and collapses. With Carlisle gone, Edward is forced to perform a cesarean section on her to save the baby. Bella nearly dies on the table, but Edward injects vampire venom into her.
Jacob, in anger over Bella’s death, attempts to kill her baby (named Renesmee), but his werewolf instincts lead him to imprint on her, which also protects her from the rest of the werewolves who planned on killing Renesmee. Bella survives the ordeal and, while unconscious, turns into a vampire. Meanwhile, the Volturi are informed of Bella’s transformation.
Fifth Movie: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Bella awakens from her transformation and adapts to her new abilities as a newborn vampire. She meets Renesmee, who is growing rapidly from a baby to a young child, and is furious when she learns Jacob has imprinted on her. To prevent the Cullens from leaving Forks and abandoning Bella’s father Charlie, Jacob reveals the truth about werewolves and introduces him to Renesmee, who they pass off as Edward’s niece that they adopted.
As Renesmee grows up, she is spotted by Irina, a vampire and old family friend of the Cullens who had a romantic relationship with one of the nomadic vampires killed and blames the Cullens and the werewolves for his death. She mistakes Renesmee as an immortal child, a human child turned into a vampire that cannot be trained to hide their secret, which the Volturi does not allow and kills immortal children to hide their secret as well as any vampire who tries to transform a child. Alice has a vision of the entire Volturi coven coming to kill the Cullens, so they gather as many vampires as they can to testify that Renesmee is not an immortal child and is actually growing. Knowing that the Volturi may not listen, some vampires refuse to testify, while those that do prepare for battle.
Bella discovers she has a mental shield that prevents people from reading her minds and, when expanded, can protect others from their vampire powers. They realize that the Volturi have been abusing their power for years, killing most of the regular vampires due to trumped-up charges but sparing gifted vampires and adding them to their coven. The Cullens, together with their vampire witnesses and the werewolf pack, manage to prove that Renesmee is not an immortal child (which leads to Irina’s death). However, the Volturi insist that Renesmee is still a threat to their future. Before anyone else can be killed, Alice shows Aro, one of the Volturi leaders, a future where both the Volturi and their side take on heavy casualties, including Aro himself, if they fight. Alice shows him a half-mortal half-vampire with a similar background like Renesmee who reveals that Renesmee will grow rapidly until she becomes a matured adult and that she can survive on both human food and blood. The Volturi leave, allowing Bella and Edward to finally live in peace.
Sixth Movie: Midnight Sun (and the Concept of AUs)
So, with all the drama that’s passed in the lives of Bella and Edward, why is it necessary to watch Midnight Sun (should it ever be released and made into a film) last in the order of The Twilight Saga films? It’s because of continuity. The flow of the last five movies all take place in Bella’s perspective.
To put it in front of all five other movies is to cause confusion as there’s more exposition in Twilight. Putting it second creates a redundant effect on the first movie while also making it difficult to continue the flow of Bella’s train of thought.
Placing Midnight Sun at the end of your Twilight watch list has three benefits: its flow, its full-circle style, and its place in alternative universes. First, it flows better because from the first to the fifth movie, you have Bella narrating what is happening in her life. Even if Edward is with her, the book is structured in such a way that this is undeniably Bella’s story. The Twilight Saga is one story revolving around Bella Swan as she enters the world of vampires and werewolves. To shoehorn Edward’s perspective just breaks that effect and defeats the purpose of seeing her story through her eyes. Edward’s story is related, but not enough for it to squeeze itself in the middle of the story.
Second, ending the saga right where it began gives you a sense of coming full circle. The Twilight Saga began because of Bella’s attraction towards Edward, but we never get to see the story told from Edward’s point of view. However, because most of the story has already been told, Edward’s story is mostly just additional information. Instead of being a story on its own, it’s just giving closure the story by sharing the information we never knew.
And finally, you have the concept of an “alternative universe,” or AU, in the world of fan fiction. This is a term used when a story is written outside of what is canon. AUs can sometimes go to the extremes like “What would happen if all the gifted vampires in the Cullen coven ended up in the Volturi?” to simple prompts like “An AU where Edward could read Bella’s thoughts.”
In this case, Midnight Sun (as well as Life and Death and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner) is an AU away from the original Twilight story because it’s told through another perspective, thus it’s possible that it’s another universe on its own. In this case, even if all the books in the Twilight franchise tells the same story, the fact that the other narrators can tell bits that Bella would never know means that their own stories are an alternate universe.
By inserting an AU story into Bella’s timeline, you’re breaking the canon that is the original four books (or in this case, five movies). The point of an AU is that it never breaks the canon because the canon is the basis of all fan fiction and other types of literature of films that spawn from it. Just because Twilight and Midnight Sun take place at the same time does not mean they are in the same story. While Bella is wondering why the handsome boy in her science class was looking at her weirdly and is actively avoiding her, Edward is traveling to Alaska to escape Bella and ends up rejecting the advances of a vampire from the Denali coven. They’re happening in the same timeline and tend to overlap, but that does not mean they are in the same story. And since Edward’s story is AU, it is much better to hear the entire canon of Bella’s story before going on to listen to Edward’s story as supplementary material.
Again, this is all banking on the idea that Stephenie Meyer will one-day complete Midnight Sun and Hollywood studios will pick it up and make one final movie out of it. It’s unlikely, but it does give you an idea why the concept of the book shouldn’t affect the order of The Twilight Saga films despite the timeline of events. Until then, fans can only re-watch the existing five films and check Meyer’s website from time to time for any updates on the future of their fandom’s existing films.