The Recent Installments in the Wizarding World Have Fans Under a Confundus Charm!
Harry Potter is a beloved series that has left a profound impact on the lives of its fans. All fans can agree that the book series along with the film series were amazing. The beautiful storyline, complex characters, humor, relatable themes, and the wonder of magic entranced us all, transporting us to the Wizarding World and all it had to offer. We can’t help but want to go back, no matter how long it’s been since we read the final sentence of the final book. What better way to return to the world we know and love than with new installments? Fans were ecstatic after it was announced that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were in development, the former as a play and the latter as a film. That excitement stayed around until these new installments were released, and the fans were left questioning “what is happening here?” and saying “this is not the Harry Potter we know”. Both The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts 1&2 struggled to canonically make sense with the original series, and give us that same sense of wonder. As a fan of the original series, I thought I would give my thoughts on the new installments and what seems to be going wrong. Warning, there will be spoilers.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
This new chapter in the Harry Potter franchise was released as a play debuting at the West End in London, England on July 30, 2016. Around the same time J.K. Rowling and her co-creators, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, released the script for fans who could not see the play. The Cursed Child focuses on Albus Potter, Harry’s youngest son, and his struggles to live up to Harry’s legacy. The Cursed Child is my least favorite out of the new installments and just the series in general. I remember a few weeks before the release, fans had read spoilers and were talking on social media about how it was not good, and that it wasn’t Harry Potter. Or at least not what Harry Potter should be. Initially I didn’t believe it could be that bad, but after reading it, I fully agreed with the fans. I will say this, I enjoyed the writing style and the friendship between Albus and Scorpius was sweet. However, the plot itself was just not for me.
The basics of the plot is Albus and Scorpius going back in time with Delphi Diggory, who is later revealed to be Voldemort’s daughter, to save Cedric Diggory during the Triwizard tournament using the sole remaining Time-Turner. Unbeknownst to the boys, Delphi is just using them so she can use the Time-Turner to bring back Voldemort. Already we have problems, and the first being – Voldemort has a kid? The same Voldemort who couldn’t comprehend love which was the crux of his downfall in the end, that doesn’t make sense. With Who? Bellatrix LeStrange? Has to be because she was the only person Voldemort could’ve possibly formed any sort of connection with. That doesn’t make sense either, because Delphi Diggory is said to be around 23 years old which would mean she was born in 1998 as the second wizarding war came to an end. Forcibly before May 1998, because Bellatrix dies at the battle of Hogwarts which took place on May 2nd, 1998. If we go with her being Voldemort and Bellatrix’s daughter, at some point before May of 1998, Bellatrix had to be pregnant and she wasn’t. I can infer this because during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Bellatrix was seen 3 times, including at the battle, over the course of a few months and not once was she pregnant. Also Hermione used polyjuice potion to turn into Bellatrix not long before the battle, and the way the potion works is you take the appearance of that person at the time which you take their hair. So if Bellatrix was pregnant when Hermione took her hair to make the polyjuice potion, she should’ve been pregnant when she transformed into Bellatrix – she wasn’t. Based on this information, Delphi being the daughter of Voldemort does not make sense.
My second issue with The Cursed Child is the time travel. Time-Turners were only used once in the original series during the events of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Here’s a few quotes concerning Time-Turners from J.K. Rowling’s website Pottermore.
“All attempts to travel back further than a few hours have resulted in catastrophic harm to the witch or wizard involved.”
Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi went back around 20 years.
“Thirdly, I smashed all remaining Time-Turners during the battle in the Department of Mysteries, removing the possibility of reliving even short periods in the future.”
The very existence of this play contradicts what J.K. Rowling says here.
Hopefully you get where I’m going with this, the presence of Time-Turners in this plot to make it simply another time traveling adventure does not fit with Harry Potter. The magic of Harry Potter has never been about time travel, with the exception of The Prisoner of Azkaban, magic in Harry Potter is your good old fashioned spells, curses, charms, and occasional bonds – not time travel. Even when time travel was used in The Prisoner of Azkaban it wasn’t used like this, it was more like a paradoxical event where the timeline we saw first was a result of the time traveling Harry and Hermione did in the end. The Cursed Child is your average, characters goes back in time, mess up the present timeline, and go back again to fix it. That’s just not what Harry Potter is, and it doesn’t make sense that they would make it such a key part of the plot.
What Would Harry Potter Do? Not this.
Lastly, I’m not a fan of some of their character choices. The biggest being what they did with Harry and his relationship to Albus. Albus resents Harry for all the pressure he feels as the famous Harry Potter’s son, and the way Harry responds to that resentment personally does not feel like something Harry would do. It didn’t bother me as much until I read, “Sometimes I wish you weren’t my son.”. Harry says this to Albus after they get into an big argument, and this very moment took me completely out of the story. This moment is such a disservice to Harry’s character, and I can’t believe J.K. Rowling would allow this to make it in the script. The Harry we know suffered so much verbal and physical abuse as a child, and when he got older he gave everyone so much love and kindness. Even if he didn’t like someone he treated them with some amounts of respect, so for him to turn around and say this to his own child is completely out of character.
I think the issue is simply I don’t have play itself to back this script up. This script would definitely work as a standalone play, but I’m reading this script without the play and assuming it will coincide with the original series. Mainly because that is how it is advertised, they say it is “the eighth story in the series”, so of course I expect it to go with the original series. Unfortunately, it doesn’t and that’s why it fell through for me. Granted the whole Delphi situation would still be valid no matter what, but take this script and make it a spin-off not “the eighth story in the series”, then this would be better.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was the one we all thought was going to be bad. After all it’s based off a fictional book inside Harry Potter, which is already a fictional book. How good could this be? Well it’s better than The Cursed Child, so I’ll give it that. I liked Fantastic Beasts, I loved the new characters, magical New York was fun, and I like where they’re going with the story of Grindelwald. We first heard of Grindelwald back in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and he was Dumbledore’s former best friend, (and lover depending on if J.K. Rowling is brave enough to say that they were in love) before he became a Hogwarts professor later headmaster. We got the story of what happened between Grindelwald and Dumbledore and this series aims to tell the story about the events leading up to the battle between them, as well as the state of the wizarding world at that time.
Change is good, or is it?
The biggest thing I, fans as well, had to tackle with this film is just adjusting to the fact that it’s not what we’re used to. It’s a prequel series set seventy years before the original series, so we already know we’re not going to be seeing the same people. Then we’re also being taken to a new era, the 20s, and a new country after being so used to seeing the wizarding world in England. Us fans had a lot of change to get used to, but at the same time we still wanted the same wondrous, magical feeling that Harry Potter gave us. Personally I didn’t get it, the magic was there and they had little cameo mentions of Dumbledore. It just wasn’t the same, and that’s honestly my only issue with it. Given all the change, fans need to feel like we’re still going back to the same wizarding world, after all that’s why we went to go see it, so if they’re not going to give me that feeling of the wizarding world. Then why do it at all? All in all it was a fine film, just didn’t feel like the wizarding world I knew. Although I would’ve loved if they kept Colin Farrell as Grindelwald, but it is what it is.
Fantastic Beasts The Crimes of Grindelwald
Announcements about the development of this film caused quite the controversy. From the casting of Johnny Depp,to revealing the one Asian character to be Nagini, and the queerbaiting with Dumbledore, there were a lot of problems. All that being said, this installment into the franchise is my favorite and simply because it felt like a Harry Potter movie. I absolutely loved the new magic seen in this film, and it was so cute to see Newt’s entire beasts sanctuary in his home. They took us back to Europe and back to Hogwarts, which as you can guess was the best part for me. We got to see snippets of Dumbledore teaching as the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and the French Ministry of Magic. We also got some new characters in this film, Leta LeStrange and Theseus Scamander being my favorites. I feel that the story of Leta LeStrange was told incredibly well, as well as her relationship with Newt in their youth. Leta was really my favorite character in the film and it’s a shame they killed her in the end. As much as I liked this film there is no denying that it had its problems, so let’s get to it.
“We were closer than brothers” ~ Albus Dumbledore
Speaking of characters in the film, how about I get into that obvious queerbaiting of their most iconic character. Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore was a great choice and I really enjoyed his performance. I did not enjoy that the writers and J.K. Rowling seem to keep dancing around his sexuality and not committing to giving us a good portrayal of his sexuality. It was revealed a long time ago that Dumbledore is gay and it’s known that Grindelwald was most likely his boyfriend or at least someone Dumbledore was in love with. Once this film came around fans expected to see that relationship be played out, and it was hinted at in the trailers. Unfortunately, they did not follow through and the scene that appeared to be hinting at a relationship between the two was simply them making a blood pact. The blood pact was to ensure they could never fight against one another. That’s all we get, and LGBTQ fans were rightfully upset. I was too, because if they were to acknowledge that Dumbledore is in fact gay but not show it. What was the point? Representation is not just simply mentioning you’ve got an LGBTQ character, you have to actually portray it and making this blood pact is just a cheap way to dismiss any kind of relationship between them. Personally, I think it would’ve been great if the reason Dumbledore didn’t want to go against Grindelwald is because he was still in love with him. It would’ve been much more emotional and impactful if we got the typical bad guy vs. good guy trope, but there’s a deep and personal history behind them. Instead we get blood pact that just boils it down to a basic he’s good, he’s bad, we have to fight, and that’s all.
Albus Dumbledore has a new family member?!
The biggest twist comes at the end when Grindelwald reveals to Credence that he is a Dumbledore, most likely Albus Dumbledore’s brother. Credence Barebone was introduced in the first Fantastic Beasts film, and we found out that he is an obscurial. An obscurial is a dark force that developed inside a child when they repressed their magic to avoid being caught by muggles who wanted to prosecute them. Crimes of Grindelwald takes us back to the story of Credence, and this time to see where he comes from. Turns out he’s a Dumbledore, and immediately all fans of Harry Potter knew there was no way that could work – here’s why.
Credence is around his early to mid twenties, and Dumbledore is probably in his forties, which means for Credence to be his brother. Credence was born when Dumbledore was around twenty, and this doesn’t work because by then his parents were dead. Some fans have come up with the theory that the obscurial that was inside Dumbledore’s little sister, Ariana, somehow found its way inside Credence after she died which could possibly connect him to the Dumbledore family line. An interesting theory that gets very confusing for those who did not read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows since that is where what happened to Ariana was explained. It’s also very likely that Grindelwald was lying, we know he’s pretty manipulative so it’s the easiest explanation to believe. Pulling this whole Credence is a Dumbledore twist is just too messy, and if it all just gets explained away as a lie it’ll feel like they created all this confusion for nothing. I can tell they wanted a cliffhanger, but this was not it because it just confused everyone. Instead of thinking “I can’t wait to see the next one”, I’m just thinking “why on earth would they do that?”.
Fan Service or Fan Disservice?
The last two things Crimes of Grindelwald suffered with was more timeline issues and relegating major characters to the background. There was some fan service with having Minerva McGonagall in the film, but looking back at the timeline she would not have been born when this movie takes place so poor planning on their part. During the press tour of the film it was revealed that Claudia Kim would be playing Nagini, so it turns out that Voldemort’s pet snake who was later beheaded by Neville was an Asian woman cursed to become a snake for the rest of her life. Not the best way to introduce the one Asian character in the entire film, and then during the film she barely even spoke and just followed Credence around. Again, what was the point?
I wish Crimes of Grindelwald didn’t have this many issues, because it was my favorite and I liked that they showed us more of the wizarding world in Europe. However, this film suffered in many areas. It was the lowest rated film in the Harry Potter series with many critics talking about how the film spent more time on exposition and not enough time advancing the story. At the end of its theatrical run it grossed roughly $160 million less than the first Fantastic Beasts film. Where this series is going is clear, but the execution is questionable. Are they going to pay more attention to the timeline, and not go against the character development of these major characters in this film? We’ll have to see when the third film comes out.
To finish this out; the Fantastic Beasts series has great characters, a new era to explore in, and a compelling storyline about one of the most iconic characters and his foe. All these continuity issues and the failure to remind of us if what we loved about Harry Potter is holding it back from being something much better. It’s almost as if they’re trying too hard to get Harry Potter fans to come see the films, which is unnecessary because we’re going to see it no matter what. We just ask that the writers pay attention to what it is we loved about Harry Potter and make sure they’re not just throwing things in for the sake of it – completely going against the already established world of Harry Potter. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was too simply put it, a mess, and the fans have collectively agreed that it’s not canon and we just move on from there. I really hope things get better for the wizarding world because it’s very close to my heart and I hate to see it going this way.