The second installment of J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts movie franchise now has an official title and release date. Following the same naming format as the Harry Potter series, all movies in the franchise will use the prefix Fantastic Beasts, and this one is now known as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The movie will release on November 16th, 2018.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, released in 2016, focused mainly on Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his brief but very eventful visit to New York. While in the city, he helped capture the notorious dark wizard Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp. The actor put in a very brief appearance; Grindelwald had been masquerading as Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) for most of the movie.
With the revelation of the full title comes the realization that Grindelwald will undoubtedly be the main focus of the sequel. That was already hinted at, with the casting of Jude Law as the young Dumbledore; the pair have a long and checkered past and fans will want this explored. But what exactly are the crimes of Grindelwald, and will Newt Scamander have much of a role at all?
The history between Dumbledore and Grindelwald is tied up with one of the 'Hallows' - the Elder Wand, which was teased in a first look image. The pair were very close friends; Rowling says that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald, but it's unclear if this was ever reciprocated. Together, the pair set out in search of the Deathly Hallows, of which the Elder Wand was one. Whoever collected all of the Deathly Hallows would beat death itself, and gain eternal life. Certainly that is a lure for a lot of wizards, and Dumbledore admitted to Harry Potter that he became obsessed with seeking them all out.
But it wasn't to be; Dumbledore was solely responsible for the care of his sister, Ariana, who was an obscurus and prone to violent outbursts of magic that she couldn't control. Dumbledore had too much responsibility to leave the small town of Godric's Hollow to travel the world with Grindelwald. The pair fought over this, and a violent duel ended with a stray curse killing Ariana Dumbledore. Grindelwald fled, and would later rise to prominence as the most powerful dark wizard of all time... before Voldemort came along, of course. So the pair took different paths; Dumbledore went to teach at Hogwarts, eventually becoming head teacher, while Grindelwald terrorized New York, and subsequently Europe.
Eventually, in 1945, Dumbledore once again took Grindelwald on in a duel. This time, he emerged victorious, and possession of the Elder Wand transferred to him. He would keep it until his death. The photo teased showed two wands, but it is Grindelwald who has possession of the Elder Wand when The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up, and he's escaped custody and is on his way to Europe.
We know from the first movie that he is a wizard of few scruples or morals. We also know that he is obsessed by obscurs'- first Dumbledore's sister, but in Fantastic Beasts he also uses Credence Barebone to do his bidding, while not caring for the boy's mental welfare in any way. With the first-look cast photo came confirmation that Ezra Miller will be back as Credence; the boy who lives with the shame of this uncontrollable mass of dark magic burning inside of him.
It would be nice to think he could find happiness, but sadly, it would seem he's fled New York for Europe and has possibly joined a wizarding circus; the cast photo shows Claudia Kim sitting protectively alongside him, and all we know of her character is that she's in the circus. It's only a matter of time before Grindelwald catches up to Credence, and no doubt Mary Lou Barebone will help his cause. His manipulation of such a vulnerable character will most definitely be one of Grindelwald's many crimes. That will be sure to anger Dumbledore who, we are informed, is relying on his former student, Newt Scamander, to help him bring Grindelwald to justice.
In fact, when discussing Grindelwald's crimes, they all fall under one banner; persecution and hatred of those born different. In echoes of Nazi Germany (and indeed many other crimes against humanity), Grindelwald taps into other people's fears and exacerbates them to help his cause. He seeks- as did Voldemort- to elevate wizards above all Muggles or No-Maj's and have them rule as the supreme race. People like Mary Lou Barebone, who was already preaching her hatred and intolerance, will become an impassioned follower, while others such as Credence and Jacob Kowalski, will have a very real reason to fear for their lives. How fitting, then, that Dumbledore and Grindelwald's great showdown took place in 1945, the year the second World War came to an end. That epic duel will undoubtedly come at the end of the entire Fantastic Beasts franchise, meaning that whatever happens in this movie, Grindelwald will be committing his crimes for a long time to come.
So what of Newt Scamander? Well, Redmayne gave such an endearingly sweet and touching performance in the first Fantastic Beasts that we would hope he has a significant role going forward, even if it is overshadowed by Dumbledore and Grindelwald. The same goes for Tina, Queenie and Jacob, but there are also new characters coming into the franchise. These include Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), whom we only glimpsed in a photo in the first movie. She and Newt share some history, so it's interesting, therefore, that she's in the cast photo sitting very close to Newt's brother, Thesus (Callum Turner). Thesus is a very powerful Auror, and also involved in the capture of Grindelwald, so there could be some kind of tension between the three.
Newt's place in Harry Potter history has always been as the author of the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Similarly, Dumbledore has always been known as a powerful wizard and Hogwarts headmaster. We're about to learn an awful lot more about both characters, and how that will impact upon, and connect to, the Harry Potter universe, will be fascinating to see.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018