Harry Potter is never ending. While the collective world mourned the loss of a beloved book series and then movie franchise, there was always going to be more to come. Die-hard fans and casual readers/viewers alike feverishly await the upcoming trilogy brought to life by the mind of J.K. Rowling, but questions remain about whether or not it will live up to the strengths of the original series.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters this fall, and will kick off what Warner Bros. hopes will be their next worldwide franchise success. The marketing campaign by both WB and J.K. Rowling (through Pottermore) is in full effect, expanding the world of Harry Potter as we previously knew it. The hope is that fans will come to embrace these stories, despite it not being a direct continuation of the books and movies they fell in love with. That is a tall task, but after great consideration we are happy to share some points of interest that we believe might aid this transition into the new installment. Here are 10 Things We’d Like To See in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
10. America’s Wizarding Candy
Can you get a chocolate frog in New York? That is the million dollar question. Much has been made lately by Rowling of the differences between the wizarding world in England and America, but what does this mean for our magical candy? A particularly joyous part of the wonder of the books, and especially the movies, was finding out what treats our favorite wizards got to indulge in.
Despite the lackluster response to no-maj (America’s word for muggle), this is a quite fun opportunity for the filmmakers to bring both old and new fans onboard through new culinary inventions. Maybe they can even build off of candies of the ‘20s; many of our favorites of today actually emerged from this era, such as the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Milky Way, and Milk Duds. But then again, perhaps it’s better if Rowling, the creator of Cockroach Clusters and Fizzing Whizbees, continues to think a little bit weirder. Either way, despite the tumultuous events previewed in the trailer, hopefully there’s still time to eat.
9. Wizarding Sports
As some fans may have read in Quidditch Through The Ages, the sport reached North America in the early 17th century. In America, much like soccer, it has taken a longer time to catch on in popularity. Still, by the time of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Quidditch would certain be known and spoken of. Almost more intriguing though, is the new quirky American sport she introduced in the book: Quodpot. It’s a variation of Quidditch, where the Quaffle is now combustible and it must be thrown into the “pot” before it explodes. That sounds like a sport ripe for comedy, and if the playful tone suggested by director David Yates is to be be believed, it might fit right in.
The challenge though might not be the sports themselves, but how their integration might work with the overall narrative. In the original series, since our protagonists were at school, sports were a natural part of their lives. The films did eventually lean away from extensive visual depictions of Quidditch, so one could expect the same from this new trilogy. Still, a wink and a nod to this part of the wizarding world would be a nice addition.
8. The Roaring Twenties in New York
In the Harry Potter film series, the time period was established early and, while explored occasionally, remained pretty firmly in the background in terms of the overall narrative. Setting the latest installment in 1926 though, is an opportunity too good to not take advantage of. How magic might fit into pop culture (or what would be the pop culture of the wizards of the time) is very intriguing.
To take it to the extreme, imagine wizards mixed in with the raucous parties and scenes of New York featured in The Great Gatsby. It’s the Jazz Age after all. Stuart Craig, the production designer, was exemplary in his visualization of the original Harry Potter books, which is why his work in this new trilogy is particularly exciting. There are a lot of possibilities to be explored, building off of this era. Do the witches and wizards contrast to the style and culture of the day or do they attempt to fit in? If the filmmakers embrace the time, and don’t suffer from too much self-seriousness, we could be in for a lot of fun.
7. Practical Effects and Sets
It seems these days as if we’re constantly in the middle of a heated debate about practical effects and sets vs CGI when discussing blockbuster filmmaking. Preferences vary, but it’s difficult to deny the difference the choices make from a visual standpoint. Though previous Harry Potter movies haven’t particularly shied away from CGI, much of the series was grounded in real sets, miniatures, or exterior location shots which were later composited (put together) with each other or digital elements to create an environment through the use of digital wizardry. This provides a strong foundation to build off of, which makes us feel grounded in the world.
One example of a visual style that might not work for this film is that of Pan, WB’s recent Peter Pan adaptation/box office bomb. It’s extensive use of CGI at points looked cartoonish, though that might have been intended. This new trilogy deserves the benefit of the doubt however, due to the many talented artists who worked on the previous films. From what we’ve seen so far, it seems as if the filmmakers worked with some stunning practical sets. Hopefully the many digital effects artists are equally motivated in their on set work.
6. Familiar Creatures From the Harry Potter Films
As the title suggests, we’re going to explore a whole host of fantastic beasts of the magical world in this latest cinematic journey. The question is, which creatures will we see? A cursory look through the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them book shows that we’ve already encountered many of them in previous films. Some of our favorites such as the Hippogriff, Hungarian horntail, Centaur, or Acromantula would be welcome in major or minor appearances.
Their inclusion could serve as the connective tissue between the new and the old film series. This depends of course on which countries our protagonist, Newt (Eddie Redmayne), has visited before America. The creatures he carries within his magical briefcase will have come from his travels, so we can only hope that Newt has visited the homelands of some of our favorites. Ron Weasley would certainly understand the horror New York would face if Acromantula spiders were amongst those that will rampage across the city.
5. Connection to Main Characters of Harry Potter Series
Connecting different trilogies in a shared universe can be tricky, as The Hobbit and Star Wars: The Force Awakens recently demonstrated. There’s a balance to be found between overdone fan service and subtle callbacks that tie the films together. The question then that might divide fans, is whether or not there should be a connection in this trilogy to the Harry Potter series main characters. If Rowling intends to have these new stories separate from the old, we might not get a connection. If she, however, wants them to enrich the characters’ family histories, then there might be references aplenty.
Though according to Rowling’s writings about our characters, after the Deathly Hallows, Luna Lovegood marries the grandson of this film’s protagonist Newt, so there are no other obvious related characters in the described main characters. Still, there might be a Potter, Weasley or Granger travelling abroad. Better yet, maybe we’ll get a glimpse of Dumbledore, who, according to Rowling, was 150 years old at the time of the books.
4. Wandless Magic
There has been a lot of conversation about Rowling’s History of Magic in North America installments, and their inclusion of Native American magic. In spite of the controversy, one point brought up that might be explored in depth in this new trilogy is the use of wandless magic. In subsequent tweets and interviews, Rowling has clarified that wands and brooms simply channel the magic, so particularly skilled wizards can perform spells without them.
Previous film installments have shown plenty of minor spells performed without wands, so this wouldn’t be completely new to audiences. However, the major implementation of wandless magic would bring a fresh take to the cinematic universe. For example, what would a duel between a wand user and non-wand user look like? Will Newt employ magical methods to control his fantastic beasts without the use of his wand? Perhaps wand use evolved over time, and was different back then due to the time period. These are the kind of questions that keep fervent Harry Potter fans up at night.
3. Ilvermorny, An American Wizarding School To Be Proud Of?
Hogwarts Castle and the surrounding grounds never failed to enchant us with its beauty and grandeur, so much so that many of us spent more than a few days and nights waiting for an acceptance letter that never came. But things were all thrown into flux when we found out that America has its own wizarding school. Will we get to see it?
Newt, according to already released plot information, will meet former students of the school in the film. Whether or not that will be explored in depth and therefore impact the narrative, is not known at this point. Rowling and filmmakers would certainly face a significant challenge in creating Ilvermorny. They would be competing against themselves really, and what they accomplished with Hogwarts. American fans would certainly like to know details about what their school life might have been had they not been a no-maj. Does Ilvermorny have houses? What are the courses like? The ultimate question though, is whether or not there is space to fully explore this school in this new trilogy. Considering Newt’s age, we think not. It might be best to gloss over this a bit.
2. Relatable Characters of Different Backgrounds
What made the Harry Potter series so significant in many of our lives, was the fact that we grew up with these books and movies. We related to these characters and their experiences. They came from different social, economic, and racial backgrounds. We saw ourselves in these stories. The very tall task ahead is whether or not Rowling can do it all over again.
Speaking from a marketing standpoint, this depends on what age demographic WB is after. What life experience are they trying to get audiences to relate to? From a featurette released recently about the making of the film, producer David Heyman describes the main characters as outsiders who are really coming into their own as individuals. That’s a starting point, but will be there room to grow throughout the trilogy with them?
Millions of fans truly fell in love with Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, amongst countless others. Can Rowling and the filmmakers create such endearing characters once again? Because they weren’t just relatable to ourselves, they were infinitely likable. If we can get even a little bit of that in the new trilogy, we are in for quite a treat.
1. A Strong Theme/Message
What truly elevated Rowling’s magical stories above all else were her moving themes and messages throughout. The Harry Potter series touched on many of the social issues of the day, in addition to always reflecting on what was learned from each and every adventure. Many children learn or self-affirm the values they’re taught from stories such as these, and though many of today’s blockbusters are just mind-numbing spectacle (we’re not naming names), there is an opportunity here to once again transcend that.
Our favorite characters demonstrated and learned the power of loyalty, friendship, and courage in the face of danger. There was a shared indignation, even if characters such like Draco Malfoy didn’t exhibit these traits. But unlike other more simplistic good vs evil tales, the Harry Potter series sought to understand our villains, possibly revealing them not to be villains at all. The long unpopular Snape comes to mind; a person who sacrificed so much for a love he held for all his life. Now that’s a message. So while the story of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them seems interesting enough, with actors of great pedigree and set pieces that will surely amaze, it is the message and theme of the movie that will truly set it apart.
What do you want to see in the next installment in the Harry Potter universe? Please let us know in the comments section below.