When MTV’s Teen Wolf ended in 2017, the calls for a revival started immediately. For years, fans begged and pleaded online for a little bit more of their favorite show, a little bit more time with their favorite characters, a little bit more Beacon Hills.
Today, Teen Wolf: The Movie finally came to streaming. While the movie delivers some much needed laughs and nostalgia, it misses some of the most important targets at the archery range. (No, I will not apologize for that horrendous joke.)
Before we dive in, here’s a vague overview, just in case you’re still waffling about watching it.
The Spoiler-Free Version
Despite a few key cast members missing, Teen Wolf: The Movie brings most of our beloved characters back to the screen, and it’s so good to have them back. Scott’s entire entrance was spoiled in the trailer, and I was still giddy when he showed up. While the fast-paced plot keeps everyone in constant motion, there are still plenty of emotional beats that hit home. The storyline does a good job of weaving in flashbacks and references, but there’s also a comfort in seeing the teens of Teen Wolf all grown up. Or—mostly grown up, the way a lot of fans probably feel about themselves.
On the other hand, the film is kept in motion with a convoluted plot that takes up a lot of screen time. In trying to balance three branches of the story and make a big reveal, the character relationships get less attention than they deserve. The plot tries hard to be shocking, but honestly, Teen Wolf: The Movie would have benefited from a simpler premise. The movie’s plot twist is almost comical, and the end makes the same mistake as a lot of other popular shows; its a lesson Hollywood can’t seem to learn.
Ultimately, I would say it’s still worth a watch for long-time fans of the show. You don’t need to rewatch or finish the series to catch up. Just manage your expectations and have a good time with the pack.
Okay, it’s spoilers and details from here on out—so beware!
Ask No Questions, We’ll Tell No Lies
If Teen Wolf: The Movie has one policy, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell. When the final trailer dropped, we discussed some of the big questions we had for the film. While the answers concerning Allison were integral to the plot, don’t hold your breath for any of the other answers.
The events between Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf: The Movie are classified on a need-to-know basis. The movie gives us the essentials to move forward with the plot, but not a crumb more. It’s a very strategic move on the writers’ part; if they don’t give any answers, the fans can’t disagree or say that they’re wrong. Limited backfilling means they can focus on the story at-hand—and this story took a lot of focus to tell.
While this is pretty much what we expected, it’s still frustrating to be deprived of the details.
“Who’s the mother of Derek’s son?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“What happened with Scott and Malia?”
“Not important, just know things are a little awkward.”
“Okay, what about Chris and Melissa?”
“You don’t need to know.”
“Since Stiles isn’t here, can you tell us how he is?”
“Wait a second, how is that guy still a—?”
We were looking forward to the story that would fill in the gaps, but that isn’t the focus of Teen Wolf: The Movie. If you’re looking for answers, you’ll just have to turn to the fandom and the slew of new fanfictions that will probably be published starting today.
The Heart of Teen Wolf
If there’s one thing this movie gets right, it’s Scott McCall. When Teen Wolf was still airing, there were some times it felt like the show forgot that Scott was the main character—the teen wolf. In Teen Wolf: The Movie, Scott stays in focus the whole time, the same optimistic, hopelessly romantic, True Alpha he’s always been. At the start, he’s a man in his thirties who feels a little lost, full of regrets from the past. Watching him find himself, save his friends, and rediscover his purpose? It’s exactly what we needed from Teen Wolf: The Movie.
When it was confirmed that Dylan O’Brien wouldn’t be returning as Stiles Stilinski, a lot of fans were worried; a valid concern. Stiles and Scott’s friendship was one of the cornerstones of Teen Wolf, something that held the show together—not to mention that Stiles was an indisputable fan favorite. (I am, in fact, wearing my Stilinski lacrosse jersey as I write this article.) So I was more than baffled to find that, while I was watching this movie, I didn’t miss him. Sure, I would’ve loved more detail about what he was up to, but there was no Stiles-shaped hole the way I had expected. Ultimately, I think that’s because Allison’s return was handled so well.
Ally A Saves the Day
While Stiles was Scott’s rock during the show, Allison was a catalyst. If Scott hadn’t handed her that pen in the pilot episode, the Teen Wolf we watched would’ve been an entirely different show. Returning to that relationship, the way Allison became Scott’s anchor and he became hers in return—it just felt right. As Allison regains her memories, we get flashbacks of some of the most important parts of the show, and seeing her and Scott back together felt like the ending Teen Wolf always needed.
But—and this is key—this only works because Teen Wolf: The Movie does a great job stressing Allison’s importance as a full character. It’s not just her relationship with Scott that makes her integral to the story. It’s the transformation she made from girl to hunter to protector. It’s the complicated relationship she had with her family. It’s the friendships she had within the pack.
One of the most important moments in the whole film is when Allison finally gets her full memory back. It’s not Scott that makes her remember, not a romantic kiss or his love confession. It’s her friendship with Lydia. That bond helps Lydia push past years of regret and trauma to use her powers again, and Lydia’s scream helps Allison become herself again. It capitalizes on the platonic love that made Teen Wolf such a great show and, if it had been any different, I would have a had a vastly different reaction to the movie.
Derek Hale Gets His Own Paragraph
Hearing that Tyler Hoechlin was returning as Derek Hale was a comfort to a lot of worried fans. No, we didn’t get answers about how Derek has a son, or when Derek had a son, or who Derek had a son with—but I digress. For a character who lost so much of his family, it was a reward just to see the life Derek built for himself. He started as a loner, squatting in the burnt remains of his childhood home. Now he’s a father, a business owner, a homeowner with a rack of wine and a decorative bowl of fruit on the table. Just that was enough to have me giggling and kicking my feet.
And, while Eli’s existence was unexpected, his character was undeniably likable. While the original characters have matured to adults, Eli brought the innocence, awkwardness, and humor of the original show. Seeing him struggle with his powers and heal his relationship with his dad was another one of the best parts of the film.
Which is why…I am so upset.
Teen Wolf: The Movie commits the same unforgivable sin that countless other shows and movies have made in the recent past: killing off a character who has struggled their whole life just before their happy ending. Dean Winchester, Eddie Munson, Tony Stark—all for what? To remind us that not everyone gets a happy ending and that it’s noble to sacrifice yourself for the greater good?
Hollywood has enough tragic endings. The world has enough tragic endings. I’m not sure if the writers thought this was the “right” ending for Derek, or just that the story would be too neat without a major character death. Either way, it feels like a disservice to the character and his journey.
And having Derek’s eyes return to Alpha red in his final moments? Insinuating that he was just as noble as Scott and worthy of being a True Alpha only to kill him off for good? That just feels like salt in the wound.
The Big Bad
In my last article, I talked about how the writers were using the Nogitsune as an attempt to recapture Teen Wolf’s golden era. After watching the movie, I still have mixed feelings about it. The return to Season 3B was important in order for Allison’s return, and since I’m so happy with that, it’s hard to critique it. But I didn’t feel a Stiles-shaped hole in the movie, there was most definitely one in the shape of Kira Yukimura.
Originally, the Nogitsune was tightly bound to the Yukimura family history. He thrived on chaos, but there were elements of heartbreak and revenge that felt a little flatter this time around. While the writers tried to balance the Nogitsune with a new kitsune character, Hikari, it doesn’t feel sincere. She’s not given enough backstory or character development to make her feel fleshed out, and I think the movie would have benefited from more screen time with her.
As for the mysterious man in the hood…I’m not sure what to say. Yes, it surprised me, and I only realized who it was the last second before the reveal. Then I paused the movie to laugh for two straight minutes. Having Mr. Harris, the mean chemistry teacher, as the big bad just…wasn’t something I could take seriously. There’s no explanation as to how he survived his death in 3A, how that affects the season’s story, where he’s been since, and his vendetta against Scott is a stretch at best. Even with the proper story building, I don’t think it would’ve worked. It complicated the storyline and took away screen time from other valuable plot points.
The Importance of Pack
The biggest mistake Teen Wolf: The Movie makes is prioritizing conflict over characters. No story can work without a plot, but when fans asked for more Teen Wolf content, they weren’t asking for more surprises and plot twists. They just wanted more time with the characters they fell in love with over the course of the show. The movie has its hands full trying to balance three subplots and, as a result, we see a lot less of the character dynamics we wanted to explore.
At the beginning, Scott makes a point of saying that his mother doesn’t know he’s in town. Chris says the same, and that he’d like to keep it that way. When we see Melissa for the first time, she doesn’t bat an eye and the situation is never addressed. There’s not even a throwaway line that trails off like, “Scott? I didn’t know you were in town! When…? …Why does that look like Allison?” Jackson’s never been my favorite character, but he’s reduced to a shell of his former self for comedic effect. Hell—Liam and Mason are best friends and have no dialogue.
One of the real sticking points for fan is the ill-fated Stydia. Lydia’s story about how she left Stiles is used as an emotional blow in the heat of the moment, but what about the fallout? Does she regret it? Did she tell Stiles about the dream or just leave? Is it affecting how he’s living now? What does Sheriff Stilinski think? Does Lydia call Stiles when the movie’s over? The information is just presented for drama and the implications are never addressed.
Credit where credit is due, I think Teen Wolf: The Movie has one of the best portrayals of Malia. Hardcore fans might remember that, originally, the role of “emotionally stunted Hale girl who likes Stiles” was supposed to be filled by Cora, Derek’s younger sister. When actress Adelaide Kane moved onto the CW, the writers adjusted their ideas to create Malia. I’ve always loved that concept, but there were definitely seasons where her character felt forced. This version of Malia—comfortable with physical intimacy but still confused by emotions and scared of commitment—by far felt the most natural to me.
That’s why I would have loved to see her story play out with Parrish. They’re put together for the tension of it, and we get some great lines like Malia’s not-a-pep-talk and Parrish’s quip that he’s definitely not gonna die. Then we have the final battle and…get nothing else on the subject.
I can’t say I went into Teen Wolf: The Movie with high expectations. I can’t say that it exceeded my expectations across the board. I was pleasantly surprised by the parts I loved and prepared for the disappointment from the scenes that fell short. That being said, I’m glad I watched it and I had fun; sometimes that’s all you can ask.
The best part about fandom is being able to share your passion with other fans. If nothing else, Teen Wolf: The Movie is a spark that will start that fire again, and allow people to find their way back to their pack.