With new information about Fantastic Beasts from its Global IMAX fan event, it inspired me to take a moment to reflect on the fact that we will be revisiting the wizarding world in a matter of weeks – which is something I had not expected to happen just years after the final Harry Potter film was released.
Yet, here we are with a new movie (the first of five!) on the horizon, starring Eddie Redmayne as magical zoologist, Newt Scamander, who is best known for writing Harry’s school textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” After an excursion around the world documenting new discoveries, Newt arrives in New York and becomes entwined with the wizarding community in America and a new beastly problem they have.
The new footage and news from yesterday’s event brought up several questions fans have for this new adventure. Here are some hopes I have for the new wizarding film series.
1. A Muggle’s (or No-maj, should we say?) Perspective
If the trailers and footage are any indication, Jacob Kowolski plays a big role in the film, as Newt’s no-maj sidekick. To what capacity is Jacob involved, we aren’t quite sure. But this is something that wasn’t ever really explored in the Potter films and books. The most time we spent with Muggles who know about magic were with the Dursleys, which isn’t saying much. But here we seem to have a non-magical sidekick that is fascinated and open to the wizarding world. Finally, a character we all could relate to in this way.
2. Connection to Harry Potter Series
At first, the connection to the Harry Potter series seemed to be tenuous, since J.K. Rowling adamantly explained that this is “not a prequel.” However, yesterday, it was confirmed that Dumbledore and even Grindelwald will be featured in the the new franchise. As we noticed earlier this year, Colin Farrell’s character, Graves, name drops Dumbledore in the trailer, and we hear and see Grindelwald mentioned in the new footage. Could this franchise lead to the epic battle between Dumbledore and Grindelwald? I’m thinking yes, especially after seeing this tweet from Rowling herself.
I think, when you realise what story we're *really* telling, you'll understand that it can't possibly fit in one movie! https://t.co/xV5vYwCDdr
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 13, 2016
3. A Different Kind of Villain
If this does indeed lead to the Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald story, it means we’re in store for a different kind of villain. I’ve read a few fan theories guessing that this would be a Voldemort origin story, and I don’t think that’s quite right. It would be a lost opportunity (and totally boring) to revisit a villain we already know and defeated. Whereas with Grindelwald, we get to see his tense and intimate dynamic with Dumbledore, which is totally different than Harry vs. Voldy.
4. Anthological or Continuing Story?
Another thing to wonder is the overall structure of this new five film franchise. Will each installment be continuously told or feel more anthological in nature? One rumor says that the second film will take place in Paris, which leaves us wondering how the first film’s supporting players will be involved in the subsequent films. However, it makes sense for Newt to globetrot in search of his beasts, while allowing him to get possibly tangled up in whatever political or societal problems that arise within global magical community.
5. Introduction of the Beasts
Thanks to the cute Fantastic Beasts emojis, we have a fun glimpse of what kind of beasts to expect in the new film. I have a feeling that many of these creatures will be scene-stealers, and it’s cool to finally explore this part of the magical world. I imagine they would be very integral to plot, but to what extent?
6. New Setting and Darker Tone
Taking place in 1926 New York, not only is this a period piece but we see just how the wizarding community is like in America. From the footage, the new setting is refreshing despite how familiar the film feels to Harry Potter. Also, it’s worth noting that the story revolves around adults this time around, which may lead to film series to dive into darker topics and themes.
7. Social commentary on American society and politics
This point kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. If there is one thing that J.K. Rowling loves, it’s subtext. I’m sure this new franchise will be brimming with it. Diving into American history, there is much to work with, and I think we see a bit of that with Ezra Miller’s character and how he seems to be part of a puritanical religion. There was also the controversy of Rowling appropriating Native American culture with the American magical world. One of TYF staff writers wrote about how Rowling should stop before claiming a group’s mythology as part of her own story. With all that in mind, it’s safe to say that while I’m excited to see where the plot of the new film franchise takes us, and I’m also very curious to discover the story Rowling is “really telling” with Fantastic Beasts.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in theaters on November 18.