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Dumbledore Vs. Gandalf: Who's The Better Wizard?

Dumbledore and Gandalf

Not since Merlin himself have names defined wizardry like Gandalf and Dumbledore. Both are exactly what we picture when we talk about wizards, wise old mentors with a gift for leadership and the arcane arts. You might consider it blasphemy to compare the two, but here at Screen Rant, debate is always a friendly, constructive thing. In that spirit, we decided to put the two iconic magicians up against each other to determine just who is truly the better wizard. How? Well, we thought it would be most efficient to break down the merits of wizards into categories, and then determine which character was best in each. That way, we could decide on kind of a point system, the easiest way to judge a debate. So prepare your forbidden books and steadily growing beards, magic fans, as we at Screen Rant ask Dumbledore Vs. Gandalf: Who's the Better Wizard?

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Ian McKellan as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings
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10 Age: Gandalf

Ian McKellan as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings

Usually, wizards are pretty old. Yes, the Harry Potter franchise made wizards young, but the idea of a wizard in pop culture is still one of an old man. You know, the long beard, the gray hair, etc. And though both wizards rock that particular look, we have to hand it to Gandalf for actually living the part. In fact, Gandalf is pretty much an ageless being in Middle Earth, having entered that world as already an old man. So while Dumbledore's been around for a while, he can't compare to a guy who started his physical life in his sixties, then stuck around for a few centuries. Gandalf's senior citizen discounts are basically just free things at this point.

9 Style: Dumbledore

Speaking of looking the part, just because you're an old and sage magician doesn't mean you have to look shabby. Gandalf might disagree, judging by his drab grey cloak and hat. Of course, Gandalf gets an upgrade after he returns from the dead, but overall, we've got to give Dumbledore the win for style. Not only does he wear the hell out of some old-timey scholar robes, but as a young guy, Dumbledore's outfit could put Don Draper to shame. In fact, Dumbledore even has a better after-death look, adapting his Hogwarts garb to an all-white, heavenly set of robes. There's something to be said about looking better than someone at both young and old stages of their lives, but looking better after the grave? That's a major win for Albus.

8 Enemies: Gandalf

Sauron As The Great Eye in Lord of the Rings

Every hero should have a great set of villains. And the antagonists for both Dumbledore and Gandalf's storylines are incredible. So don't believe that just because we're giving this win to Gandalf's baddies means we respect Dumbledore's any less. Voldemort and even Grindelwald are complex, menacing figures of evil. Just look at the Harry Potter fanbase to see how many kind of love those two villains.

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But evil beings like Sauron and Saruman are just a little bit better in our opinion. They're more powerful, more visually interesting, and have much larger histories. And let's be honest, one of them is Christopher Freaking Lee. We could've just started with that and been done with this point.

7 Weapons: Dumbledore

Wizards are known for their magical weapons. Sometimes, they just serve the purpose of giving that magical weapon to the hero, but occasionally, they get to keep them themselves. Gandalf has two pretty impressive weapons at his disposal. First is the sword Glamdring, a powerful blade and scourge to malicious creatures. Then there's his staff, which we've seen scare off Nazgûl and break the spell holding King Théoden. But neither of those weapons' feats compare to the Elder Wand. Not only was it crafted by Death himself, the Elder Wand is a more compact, versatile tool for a wizard in combat. It's one of the three most powerful objects in all of Harry Potter, and though it might not be as powerful as the One Ring, it definitely tops anything Gandalf has ever used.

6 Combat: Gandalf

Both Gandalf and Dumbledore set themselves apart from the passive, on-the-sidelines image of a wizard by actually joining in with most of the fighting. Dumbledore kicks some serious ass, especially when it comes to wizarding duels, but in a contest of all-out-brawls, we've got to give this point to Gandalf. Gandalf will frequently throw himself into the heat of battle, dispatching orc after orc with his sword and staff combo. And that's without mentioning Gandalf's greatest battle, indeed, one of the best cinematic battles of the past twenty years. We're speaking, of course, of Gandalf's fight with the Balrog. Dumbledore's matches are cool, yes, but when comparing them against the fight scene in the depths of Moria, well... they shall not pass.

5 Leadership: Dumbledore

All wizards are wise, of course, and capable of dolling out some very useful advice. Neither Dumbledore or Gandalf is an exception to this. However, when it comes to actually stepping up as a leader, Albus Dumbledore is ahead above his Lord of the Rings match. It's not that Gandalf hasn't lead groups before, it's that he's known to break off from them to pursue his own adventures.

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Dumbledore, though, sticks with his people. He's a team player, reliable as a contact in times of need. Yes, we know that Gandalf is always off doing some important thing on his own, but that's small comfort to Bilbo and the gang when they're in trouble.

4 Ancient Wisdom: Gandalf

Again, we cannot emphasize just how old Gandalf is. And that age is what gives him the advantage in this section of the wizard contest. Wizards are known for their knowledge of ancient lore. They often serve as exposition machines, explaining to the hero the mystical history of their quest. And when it comes to mystical history, the guy who knows more is most likely the one who's lived more of it. Of course, neither Gandalf or Dumbledore have any ancient wisdom close to the "Darth Plagueis the Wise" monologue from Emperor Palpatine. But honestly, who does?

3 Appearances: Dumbledore

Advice for being a wizard is, I imagine, something like advice for being a parent. You know that old saying, "You don't have to be perfect, you just have to be there?" Probably applies to magic-wielders as much as dads, right? If that's the case, then Dumbledore is a better wizard in this regard. Dumbledore has been with us for a total of seven books, ten movies, and one play, all officially recognized as canon. Gandalf, meanwhile, appears in four completed books (technically two, if you count Lord of the Rings as one book like J.R.R. Tolkien did) and six movies. Yes, there are some canon Tolkien writings in which Gandalf appears, but since many of them were left unfinished by the man himself, we're giving this one to Dumbledore. Sorry, Silmarillion fans.

2 Magic: Gandalf

Finally, we come to the true test of wizards. Who, we ask, has more overall magical power? Don't think for a second that this question didn't take a while to answer. Both of these wizards are immensely powerful, with a control over magic rarely seen in any work of fiction. However, we have to give this one to Gandalf. After all, Dumbledore is a mortal creature who has achieved mastery over the arcane arts.

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But Gandalf is a being actually made of magic. In his veins flow the same powers that created all of Middle Earth. Though the two might be close in ability, Gandalf's power is ultimately stronger. And not to be rude here, but Gandalf's magic actually lets him survive death. Dumbledore's... not so much.

1 Winner: Gandalf

With a score of five to four, this victory goes to Gandalf. Though it was a close match, we believe he takes the edge over the resident sage of the Harry Potter universe. But what do you think? Did we give any of the categories to the wrong person? Or should we have awarded points based on different things? Let us know what you think and why in the comments section below.

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