Picture this, it’s November 12, 2012. You’ve been eagerly awaiting this moment. The final Twilight movie has arrived. The last time you saw Bella and Edward, she was being killed by her own baby and he had to finally turn her in order to save her. You and your friends have saved up all your cash from your after school jobs in order to afford tickets to the first screening on Thursday night. You aren’t wearing your Team Edward shirt, that would be a little too much; that’s all very 2009. But you did put on your Cullen clan bracelet. Now, as you juggle a packet of Raisinets and over buttered popcorn, it’s finally here.
Like almost everyone else in the theater you already know what’s coming. Bella’s awakening, her bafflingly named daughter Renesmee, Jacob imprinting on a baby. So far, just like the book. Of course, while the Volturi pose a threat we all know that Edward and Bella will get their happy ending. But first they have to prove that Renesmee—lol—isn’t an immortal child. Collecting their coven from around the world, the family has their witnesses. Now all they need is an audience. So when the final act showdown in the snow begins, there’s no need to worry. But after Aro (Micheal Sheen) executes Irina, something changes.
It’s then that a recently returned Alice realizes that Aro will never change his mind, no matter what she shows him. The Cullens attack and that’s when it happens. Carlisle runs toward Aro, but as the pair land from their confrontation the leader of the Volturi holds Carlisle’s freshly removed head in his hand. As the Cullens and the wolves run across the fresh snow in attack, you can barely breathe. Suddenly, Jasper is in the arms of the Volturi and his head is literally karate chopped off his neck! The vampire family you’ve dedicated your life to are dying and this never happened in the book!! The theater fills with screams as the Cullens and their allies are picked off one by one. What the f*ck is happening?
Whether you hate Twilight with a passion or hold a nostalgic fondness for it, the battle scene in Breaking Dawn: Part 2 stands as one of cinema’s greatest fake-outs. While the book plays on the potential tension of what could happen, in Bill Condon’s blockbuster finale to the franchise he makes those fears text. The over-the-top sequence brings an unexpected—and often hilarious—brutality to the proceedings. Terrorizing his teenage audience, Condon decapitates and mutilates the movie’s heroes. It’s a huge diversion from what is Meyer’s most boring book. In the final tome, the battle never happens. Instead, any violence is stopped by the arrival of Alice, Jasper, and their witnesses.
Here, Condon delivers a destructive and violent battle that pits the Cullens and their allies against the eerie Volturi and it doesn’t go well for anyone. While the Volturi take the most losses, the Cullens lose their patriarch and we even get to see famous Confederate soldier Cullen Jasper getting his head chopped off. It was a moment that made theaters around the world scream in shock. Things only get more dramatic when Benjamin—the Twilight universe’s Earthbender—creates a sinkhole. Many casualties fall into it. Esme almost loses her life before Leah sacrifices herself to save her. But just as things seem to be most dire for the family and their coven, Bella and Edward do a married couple combo move that would make WWE proud, decapitating Aro. The bittersweet victory is a brutal one, and it’s key to the movie’s biggest and most memorable reveal.
The bloodbath was in fact just a vision Alice shows to Aro in order to convince him to change his plan to attack. His own arrogance and fear means he’ll never pursue the battle at the cost of his own life. So just like the book, the Cullens win without a drop of blood shed. But for those ten minutes, audiences everywhere were out of their minds in what would have been a game changing twist. The fact that it was all a dream makes it even more memorable and perfect for the Twilight Saga. Of course, the blockbuster teen franchise has to have its own Dallas moment. It’s so tonally fitting it almost hurts; to introduce a massive amount of real stakes that add an emotional heft and depth to the story, just to pull them away before they can truly make an impact. Incredible scenes, literally.
Almost a decade later, the battle sequence still lives in infamy. That’s especially impressive for a film that includes so many iconic, infamous things. The cursed puppet of Renesmee that had to be CG’d over at the last minute. The aforementioned love connection between an adult shapeshifter and a CG baby. And yet the fake out battle sequence still towers above those as a rare surprise in the wild yet predictable world of Stephanie Meyer.
Though a highly-fictionalized version of the Quileute Tribe featured prominently in Meyer’s books and the Twilight movies, the tribe was never paid. If you want to support the real Quileute Tribe, you can donate to their Move to Higher Ground fundraiser.
Featured Image: Summit Pictures