Twilight is a superhero movie. Yes, really. It posits an interesting twist to the psychological dynamics of the superhero narrative however. In superhero comics, the powered lead is usually our identification character, the story is set up to give us the wish fulfilment of being the hero. In Twilight, a romance, rather than become all powerful like the friendly vegetarian vampire, the wish-fulfilment is in dating him. Whilst I don’t doubt wanting to be a superhero is a bit of a lame ambition, wanting to date a vampire seems at least one step removed from being the main agency in your life. Define yourself by your relationships why doncha?

So Twilight is 25% small time Superman, 25% Twin Peaks and 50% Count Duckula. Though clearly not as good as that might suggest. Mostly it plays up to its female teen demographic whilst not making for a very interesting film. There have been complaints that Twilight is misogynistic, or overtly conservative in its sexual politics. After all our lead vampire keeps withdrawing from even a kiss, that’s about as chaste as you can be in modern cinema. What the critics are missing here is as far as he is concerned he is snogging the tastiest steak in the Argentinian restaurant. It is the very definition of playing with your food. As for Bella, our female lead, sure its flattering to be told that of all the dishes on the human buffet you are easily the tastiest. But is it really the basis for a relationship? With a vampire? Emo pornography at best, if the porn you are after is all about chastity.

The strange thing about Twilight is how gentle it is. Until the last twenty minutes there is little which would conform to your average vampire film. Again much like a poor superhero film, it is three parts origin story, one part actual exciting adventure story, and it gets that bit done and dusted very quickly with special effects that would look at home in Smallville. But for a film which starts with our heroine turning up at a new school, there is none of the nastiness and grit I expect from a modern high school movie. Let alone the nastiness and grit I might expect from, say, a VAMPIRE FILM. Its just Buffy without the Angel turning into Angelus when he falls in love. Its all very cosy. Even the big villain set up for the next film seems to fit with the twee parochial setting. In the end we know the female vampire will be back for more, partially because her man(vampire) has been vanquished, but mainly because she wears such trashy clothes. This is a film whose tweaks of vampire mythology are almost wholly and literally cosmetic. Why don’t vampires go out in sunlight? Not because they will melt, or burn. Rather they are a bit embarrassed that it will look like they are wearing glittery make-up. Oooh, get them!

Oh for a proper Count Duckula movie!