If you caught our "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" premiere live stream last week then you've already been introduced to the fact that I am a pretty huge "Harry Potter" fan. I've been reading these books since I was 11 years old and seen each film the weekend it's been released since "Sorcerer's Stone" first hit theaters.
That being said, I've also kept up to date on the "Twilight" franchise, though I didn't get into the books until after "Eclipse" was released. I thought "Breaking Dawn" was a pretty big letdown (so sue me, I thought Edward was going to reclaim his "soul" and return to his human form, allowing him and Bella to live happily ever after without her being changed to a vampire), and I haven't been in love with the movies. So while my "Twilight" knowledge ranks up there with the best of them, I wouldn't say I'm the series' biggest fan.
Now that I have fully disclosed where I stand on the "Potter" versus "Twilight" debate, it should come as no surprise that I was pretty disappointed when I found out that Moviefone decided that "Twilight" did a better job converting the novels to the screen than "Harry Potter" did. Uhh, what? Andrew Sims from Mugglenetdebated Laura Byrne-Cristiano's, the co-leading lady over at Twilight Lexicon. The debate was a little skewed because both Andrew and Laura are fans of their respective opposing franchises (and both had/have fan sites dedicated to them as well!)... but somehow Laura managed to get the best of Andrew and give "Twilight" the lead.
Yes, I understand that particular debate is over and "Twilight" has won, but I just can't let it go! Even Twihards admitted in the Twilight Lexicon comments section that they think "Harry Potter" is the stronger film franchise. So here's my defense of "Harry Potter" from a totally biased perspective and with no intended disrespect to the "Twilight" franchise or the awesome debaters (Andrew and Laura, you guys rock!). Read my thoughts on why I think "Harry Potter" is better, and share your own in the comments section below!
Hermione Granger vs. Bella Swan
How is this even a fight? Hermione is the stronger of the two lead female characters, hands down. Laura describes her as a know-it-all, which is true in the earlier "Potter" films and books, but the more we get to know her, the more we realize that she is not only the smartest of her best friends, Ron and Harry, but she is also the strongest witch. Ron even acknowledges this in the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1" film when he asks her to erase some Death Eaters' minds because she is the "best at spells." Hermione often is the character who comes up with the solutions to get them out of trouble, and even though the danger seems to follow Harry, she could easily get herself out of trouble if given the chance. In addition, she willingly risks her life for the sake of her friends repeatedly, making her about as selfless as they come.
By contrast, Bella is never able to protect herself and always needs to rely on Edward and the Cullens (or Jacob and the wolves)... at least in the films we've seen. Yes, I know, Bella becomes a super powerful and confident vampire in "Breaking Dawn," but we are talking about the films that have been released so far, and in them Bella only causes problems instead of solving them. Another major difference between Bella and Hermione in the books is that "The Twilight Saga" is written from Bella's perspective while Hermione is a secondary character in "Harry Potter," and we only see her through Harry's eyes. Had "Harry Potter" been written from Hermione's perspective (imagine how strange that would be), there would be no contest between which is a stronger female character.
Cedric Diggory vs. Edward Cullen
It's hard to compare a secondary though pivotal character like Cedric Diggory to the backbone of the "Twilight" films, Edward Cullen, but let's go at it anyways. Yes, "Twilight" has given Robert Pattinson a whole new world of opportunities, and I'd hope so, considering he's the male lead. Would he have been considered for the role of Edward if not for the fan acceptance in his first major film role in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"? Maybe. Cedric definitely wasn't a character that had girls drooling all over themselves like they do over Edward, but I definitely found Pattinson's portrayal of Cedric to be a lot more endearing than his gloomy, wincing and sometimes unintentionally comical version of Edward (before you start to yell at me, rewatch that scene in "Twilight" where he sucks the venom out of Bella's arm and bite your tongue). Just compare the critics' response to "Goblet of Fire" (88 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) to the best-received of the "Twilight" films, "Eclipse" (51 percent fresh) and you have an idea of how most people who aren't obsessed with either franchise feel about Pattinson in both films. I don't think that Pattinson has proven himself as an actor in "Twilight" any more than he did in "Harry Potter," which is a bit disappointing considering how many years he's had to develop, and it's also a letdown that most fans would say we have to wait for a film like "Bel Ami" and "Water for Elephants" to see Pattinson's abilities really shine through. Why, again, do we have to wait?
Who Would Win in a Fight: Harry or Edward?
Blah blah blah, Edward reading Harry's mind before he could hit him with a killing curse, impossible strength to overcome and super speed. Uhh, ever heard of occlumency? I think if Harry can kill someone as evil as Voldemort, he can take a sparkly vampire any day. Also, Andrew said it best when he argued that Stephenie Meyer thinks Harry could beat Edward, and I think she's the one who would know best.
Potterheads vs Twihards
Yes, "Twilight' fans have proved time and again that they are more extreme in their passion (to the point of insanity at sometimes), but "Potter" fans have showed that they can be crazy passionate too. Also, Laura's the argument that "Twilight" brings generations together while "Harry Potter" doesn't is totally crazy. Yeah, "Twilight" might have a daughter, mother and grandmother going gaga over Edward, but I can tell you personally that my mother bonded with my younger brother by reading him the "Potter" books when he was too young to read. And one of my close friends got her grandmother to start reading the series a year ago so she could talk with someone in her family about them. "Potter" not only crosses generations, but it also crosses genders which is something "Twilight" has never been able to successfully and fully accomplish, especially the films (even with "Eclipse"). A guy liking "Twilight" is the exception, while "Potter" bridges any sort of gender gap.
Laura argues that you can figure out what's going on in whatever "Twilight" film you come into with little-to-no background knowledge, and the major plot points of the books are translated to the screen. Well, yes, I can't deny this is the case because "The Twilight Saga" has the most minimal plot lines required to make a story interesting. The plot for "Twilight" in 10 words: Bella and Edward fall in love, but he's a vampire. "New Moon": Edward leaves Bella, and she is sad; enter werepuppy Jacob. Things get a bit more complicated by "Eclipse," but still, we aren't talking about intricate literature here. "Twilight" is so great because it's so simplistic. But try summarizing the "Harry Potter" plot lines in one sentence, especially by the time you get to the later books. I certainly couldn't. Jo Rowling wove a plot so intricate that a detail as minute as the color of Harry's eyes becomes one of the biggest plot points in the entire series. Come on!
Also, in terms of critical response, as measured by RottenTomatoes.com the "Twilight" films have done terribly -- 50 percent rotten for "Twilight," 27 percent rotten for "New Moon," 51 percent rotten for "Eclipse" -- while the lowest-received "Potter" film was still 76 percent fresh ("Deathly Hallows: Part 1"), and the best beloved by critics was 90 percent fresh ("Prisoner of Azkaban"). Love or hate film reviews, those numbers say a lot about each franchise.
Standing the Test of Time
Umm, "Harry Potter" has a theme park. Enough said (although of course I'm going to say a lot more). If anything should guarantee that this series is going to be a significantly relevant part of global pop culture for the next 50 years or so, it should be that.
In addition, Rowling's "Sorcerer's Stone" book came out more than 15 years ago which, as Andrew pointed out, show's that it's already standing the test of time. The first film was released in 2001, which means these films will have taken a decade to be released. By contrast, "Twilight" was only released in 2005 with the next three books coming out over the next three years. There was no drawn-out tension, no several years passing by with no new "Potter." Similarly, the first "Twilight" film was released in 2008 and Summit has been pumping them out ever since, though they're slowing down now with the second part of "Breaking Dawn" not being released until 2012. But that still means that all the "Twilight" books and films will have been released in only seven years, half the time it took for us to wait for "Potter."
Andrew and Laura debated about the midnight releases for the books and films, and I've got to side with Andrew on this one as well. There would not have been any midnight book release for "Breaking Dawn" (and, uh, only "Breaking Dawn," since the "Twilight Saga" didn't really become popular until "Eclipse" came out) if "Harry Potter" hadn't been doing it for years with the book releases beforehand and proved that it was profitable. And speaking of following the leader, do you think "Breaking Dawn" would have been split into two films if Warner Bros. hadn't done that with "Deathly Hallows" first?
And how can we forget the fact that "Twilight" wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for "Harry Potter"? "Potter" took the publishing industry by storm when it was released and showed that kids really could be passionate about books. Since, we've seen a significant boom in the young-adult book industry, which paved the way for "Twilight" to be released a decade after "Sorcerer's Stone." Yes, "Twilight" is different in subject and tone, but do you really think Little Brown and Co. would have given Stephenie Meyer's novel a second glance if it hadn't been proven again and again that kids love to read? I don't think so.
Which franchise do you think has churned out better movies? Let us know in the comments below!