It seems like only yesterday that we were eagerly waiting for the release of Twilight, our first glimpse of the stars of the popular vampire sagas. But, in reality, it’s been over a year since the first of the four films was premiered in theaters across the country.

The year has been a crazy one — in part, because it’s been such a long time since we’ve been treated to a new vampire movie, and in part, because of all the exciting changes going on with our favorite brood of bloodsuckers.

New boyfriends for Edward and Bella, and new battles for the Cullens! Plus, after years of being a supporting player, Bella Swan finally gets to shine in her own right in the massively anticipated New Moon.

While we were patiently waiting for news about the next installment of Twilight, we were gifted with two delicious installments of The Hobbit in 2012. Then, in May of this year, we got to celebrate the end of Twilight with the final installment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

What Has Changed?

Let’s take a look back at some of the significant changes that took place in the twilight world since the last time we checked in with it.

  • New faces. While we were enjoying the first two Hobbit films (an exceptional job by Peter Jackson), we were also treated to cameo appearances by numerous A-list celebrities.
  • Reinvention. Robert Pattinson’s Mr. Pattinson has reinvented himself as a leading man, nabbing several major leading roles in critically acclaimed films.
  • New romances. Bella’s not alone in falling for an outsider. Even Edward Cullen is learning to let his guard down and give someone else a chance.
  • New perspectives. Michelle Williams’ fearless performance as the legendary Billie Holiday in the film adaptation of Lady Bird changed the way we look at the legendary jazz singer. And who wouldn’t like to see a film adaptation of James Baldwin’s stunningly beautiful No Name of Mercy?
  • An entirely new setting. The fourth Twilight film takes place in New York City, and we couldn’t be more excited.
  • A darker tone. Much darker. Perhaps not surprisingly, the second Twilight movie is quite a bit more adult-oriented than its predecessors. With all the bloodsucking and violence, some might even call it an “adult fantasy” rather than a “kids’ movie.” But, as we’ve been conditioned to expect, director Chris Weitz makes sure that “tamed” versions of the monsters remain appealing to children.

Who’s That Woman?

While we’re on the subject of changes and new beginnings, let’s take a quick gander at the transformation of one of our favorite movie monsters, Victoria. In the comics, Victoria is a beautiful vampire who possesses all the physical qualities we love in a woman: She’s got great hair, great outfits, and she always smells amazing. In the movies, though, Victoria has been one of the most consistently annoying characters, particularly in her early scenes. In the original Tombstone, we meet a brusque and bossy Victoria, who speaks with a phony British accent and insists, over and over again, that she’s not a monster. For whatever reason, Victoria has always been better suited to the big-cat world than she is to human society. Let’s put it this way: At the end of the day, who else wants to see a woman wear a panther costume and roar at the top of her lungs? After all these years, the character has finally found the perfect niche, and it’s one not often seen in Hollywood: the strong, proud, independent female lead.

New Moon, New York

One of the most exciting changes to come about in the twilight world is its new setting, New Moon. The fourth installment of the Twilight Saga was directed by Bill Condon and it premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Since then, it’s been playing to packed houses in theaters across the country, and it’s even won some major awards, including the coveted Golden Globe for best movie.

Set in the city of New York, New Moon follows the misadventures of Bella (Taylor Lautner) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) as they navigate the unfamiliar landscape of a romantic relationship. While the setting might be new, the story of the film is very much a sequel to Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Edward and Bella’s daughter, Charlie (Alison Leee), is a key figure in the film, acting as a bridge between the two couples. In New Moon, as in previous installments of the Twilight Saga, the Cullens must reluctantly step away from their isolated secluded life and adjust to the bright lights and hustle and bustle of the big city.

The Big Apple

It’s fair to say that New York City is one of the most romanticized places in the world. From the skyscrapers of Wall Street to the Broadway stages, the city is teeming with life and romance. It’s fitting, then, that one of our favorite films of the year should take place in the Big Apple. Plus, let’s face facts: The Big Apple is where all the movie monsters come from — Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Wolfman, and, of course, the Wicked Witch of the West.

Bella’s New Love Interest

Another significant development in the twilight world is the introduction of a new love interest for Bella. It’s been a long time coming, but Peter Facinelli’s portrayal of Dr. Carlisle Cullen’s psychiatrist, Dr. Frederick, marks the first time since Breaking Dawn – Part 1 that we’re presented with a love interest for Bella other than Edward. And what’s more, the new character is named after the eminent scholar Jane Austen. While we’re on the subject of literary love interests, let’s not forget about Charlotte Lucas, the lovely actress who plays the role of Elizabeth Bennet in the stage adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. (She’s the woman Darcy would have married if Mr. Darcy hadn’t succumbed to his vile ex-wife’s vile advances.)

The Perfect Arrangement

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Robert Pattinson’s work, and we’re particularly fond of his performance in the 2012 adaptation of David Michôd’s acclaimed novel, The King. In that film, Pattinson plays the title character, King George, a much-abused and neglected husband who finds himself facing one domineering wife after another, each one more beautiful and imperious than the last. Never a dull moment when Robert Pattinson is on screen!

Unfortunately, we won’t see Pattinson in an exciting new role for a while, as filming on the highly anticipated The Prisoner of Florence, in which he plays Cosimo, has been postponed due to coronavirus fears. But that will only make us even more excited to see him back on the big screen as King George next year.

The Awakening of the Cullen Women

One of the most significant changes that has occurred in the twilight world in the past year is the awakening of the Cullen women. After years of being forced to play second fiddle to their sizzling hot–yet-tame vampire counterparts, the elder and more experienced Bella, Alice, and Emily finally get the chance to shine in their own right. In this past year alone, we’ve seen these three characters evolve from passive, submissive, and slightly dimwitted damsels into confident, assertive, and cunning women, who aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone and into the limelight.

The first step in their evolution was taken in January 2012, when Emily’s world is turned upside down when she discovers her twin sister, Alice, is a living, breathing vampire. Needless to say, this revelation isn’t welcome news for Emily, who had always looked up to her older sister, thinking of them as a mother/daughter duo and the only blood relation Alice had ever acknowledged. While it’s certainly not an easy task, Alice takes the reins in this new world and, with the help of her vampire family, sets out to educate her fellow “vampires” in the ways of the world. This lesson is most effectively demonstrated in the form of a comic book titled “Wolves and How to Train Them,” written by Kevin Smith and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. (Available on Amazon.)