Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald may touch on Dumbledore's sexuality and his relationship with Grindelwald after all. The second trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2 has released and (along with a first look at Nicolas Flamel) one shot in particular has got people talking.
The character of Grindelwald was introduced to fans of J.K. Rowling's books back in her first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. There, all Rowling revealed was that Dumbledore had famously dueled the dark wizard in 1945. It wasn't until the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that Rowling revealed the twisted and tragic history between the two sorcerers; they had once been friends, and indeed the young Albus Dumbledore had found Grindelwald's philosophy attractive for a time. It took the tragic death of Albus's sister to open his eyes to Grindelwald's evil.
Rowling later revealed that Dumbledore's attraction to Grindelwald ran deeper than that. She confirmed that she always imagined Dumbledore as being gay, and that he cared deeply about Grindelwald. The moment viewers heard that Dumbledore had been cast for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, they began to hope that this would actually be addressed in the film. Unfortunately, director David Yates soon dispelled those hopes by suggesting the movie would "not explicitly" deal with this issue. But the trailer released at SDCC has suggested there may be some slightly more overt references.
The trailer includes one scene in which Dumbledore explains to Newt that he cannot move against Grindelwald. The first trailer had suggested that this was as much a matter of politics as anything else, with hints that Dumbledore was restrained by the Ministry of Magic. This time, though, the dialogue was carefully placed over a scene in which Dumbledore stared into the Mirror of Erised, and saw Grindelwald's reflection.
The Mirror of Erised appeared in the very first Harry Potter story. It's an ancient magical mirror, and anyone who gazes into it sees the deepest desire of their hearts. Harry, for example, saw his parents. As Dumbledore warned Harry, men have wasted away staring into the Mirror of Erised, lost in their own longings. And when Dumbledore gazes into it, he sees Grindelwald. Could this be a hint at the feelings he holds for Gelert, with that informing the plot? It's certainly easy to understand why that would lead Dumbledore to second-guess himself, fearing that he wouldn't actually be able to fight Grindelwald at all.
This is only a subtle detail, but it's an important one. It reassures viewers that there may not actually be the "gay erasure" many had feared; rather, J.K. Rowling is taking her usual approach to storytelling - dropping subtle hints, that she later develops. In a recent interview, Jude Law noted that this is one thing he most admires about Rowling's writing. "She reveals her characters," he explained, "peels them to the heart over time. You’re just getting to know Albus in this film, and there’s obviously a lot more to come."
Even if Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald doesn't explicitly reference Dumbledore's secret love for Grindelwald, the trailer suggests that it will nevertheless offer some not-so-subtle hints. Given that's the case, the relationship between the two is sure to move to center-stage as Fantastic Beasts progress. After all, the final film ends in 1945, the year of Albus's fateful final encounter with Grindelwald.
This #SDCC 2018 post brought to you by Regal Cinemas.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018