Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Repeating the Potter Series
I know we’re all excited about the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movie, given the hype and hoopla for the reveal of the title/image/synopsis of the next film. Sure, we may be more excited about some things than others (Johnny Depp is still the worst, and as the hosts of MuggleCast pointed out, the title is disappointing in its simplicity). But generally, folks are getting more and more hyped with every tidbit.
As for me… I’m growing more and more concerned about the film. Specifically, I’m growing concerned that it’ll become a rehash of everything we’ve done in Harry Potter. The whole selling point of the Fantastic Beasts film series is that it’s a brand new story. So why does it begin to seem like they’re retreading familiar ground?
The biggest warning sign I received was the synopsis for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald referring to Grindelwald’s “true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.” Excuse me, but what in the name of Merlin’s most baggy Y-fronts is that all about? Literally everything we know of Grindelwald suggests he had the opposite agenda: raising wizards to rule over Muggles. That’s what his diatribe against Picquery was about in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. That’s what’s contained in the letter he sends to Albus, seen in Deathly Hallows. If he wants Muggles subjugated to wizards, then Muggle-borns are a good thing; they sway the numbers toward the wizards.
More importantly, this distinction is what makes him different from Voldemort (as discussed in my essay “The Big Bads“). The whole pure-blood supremacy shtick? Been there! Done that! Read over 4,000 pages all about it! Voldemort was a fantastic villain, but Grindelwald won’t be able to out-Voldy Voldemort, so let’s have a bit of variety in our villains! Otherwise, the wizarding world will become like CW’s The Flash: The first speedster Big Bad was spectacular, the second and third completely uninspired.
Then, looking at the title art for Crimes of Grindelwald, every HP fan worth their wand noticed the Deathly Hallows buried in the vowels. And again, why would the Hallows be involved? The Cloak is, as far as we know, in the custody of either Henry Potter of Fleamont Potter. The Resurrection Stone is in the custody of Morfin Gaunt. It’s bad enough that the climactic battle of the entire series will involve the changing allegiance of the Elder Wand, but I have no desire to go through the Hallows again, especially given that we know where they will all end up by 1945 anyway.
It’s why I’m really hoping the films don’t exert a lot of energy on the question of who’s master of the Elder Wand (which is probably Newt at the moment, so it’ll definitely come up in some capacity). We’re all good on complicated wandlore as it related to mastery of the Elder Wand; there’s a lovely 700-page book all about it that we can reread to our hearts’ content. We don’t need a few more films about it.
I also worry about the storyline of this new Maledictus. I have to imagine that her “blood curse” isn’t lycanthropy because we’ve been there and done that with werewolves in the HP series. But I hope she is very different from both Lupin and Greyback so we can get a fresh, new perspective on what it’s like to deal with a transformation you can’t control.
And this is my attitude toward most things to do with the original HP series. Leave well enough alone, and tell your own story. Leave the Potters out of it. And leave the primary MacGuffins of the Potter series out of it as well: The Hallows, the Horcruxes, and the Sorcerer’s Stone. We’ve received no indication thus far that Grindelwald seeks immortality; let’s keep it that way. I’m not opposed to running into some peripheral HP characters (I’m quite looking forward to the Flamels!). But if they’re just going to rehash Harry Potter by making Grindelwald a Voldy 2.0… well, then just reboot the films and be done with it.
This could be much ado about nothing since the title card and the synopsis could just be some crappy decisions made by the marketing department at Warner Bros. and have precious little to do with what’s in the actual movie. That’s one of the frustrating things about receiving Potter products that are crafted by corporations instead of Jo all by herself… you don’t know what’s actually relevant information and what’s corporate nonsense. But I grow warier and warier that this film series won’t be quite as wonderful as we all want it to be.