Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald actually improved on some areas of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter canon. Second in the Fantastic Beasts series, the sequel sees the battle against Grindelwald escalate, with characters forced to choose sides in the coming war. Naturally, given these movies are part of Rowling's meticulously-crafted Wizarding World franchise, a lot of attention has focused in on just how these stories affect the canon.
The Fantastic Beasts films were, at best, stories Rowling never expected to tell. After all, the Harry Potter prequel series only began to take shape when Warner Bros. approached the author with the idea of expanding on an in-universe school textbook she'd published for comic relief. As a result, these Fantastic Beasts films involve a number of significant retcons - and, unfortunately, the occasional continuity error. The most glaring has been the fact that Professor McGonagall apparently taught Newt Scamander years before she should have even been born.
But it's unwise to underestimate an author of J.K. Rowling's caliber. Some of the changes she's made to her canon are significant improvements, adding new elements to the franchise's history and developing ideas teased in earlier books and films. Here, we'll look at some of the best examples.
- This Page: Sexism and the Blood Pact
- Next Page: Grindelwald's Manipulation - and the Order of the Phoenix
Sexism in Wizarding Families
One of the most fascinating characters in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is Leta Lestrange, a tortured young witch who struggles to deal with the darkness she believes lies within her. The Lestrange family is one of the darkest in the wizarding world, and they're obsessed with the purity of their blood. That's why Corvus Lestrange keeps a unique family tree, one that names all the men and has flowers representing all the women. Given this appears to be quite an old artifact, it's an illustration of just how these Pureblood wizarding families view women. Men are important, named on the family tree, part of the line of succession; women, on the other hand, are little more than adornments, to be admired for their beauty and married off to Pureblood men in order to bind the different wizarding families together.
This is the first time there's been any strong indication of casual sexism in the wizarding world, but it fits neatly with everything Rowling has established before. Even Muggle legends treat witches and wizards differently, with female magic-users expected to be enchantresses and seductresses. A close reading of the Harry Potter books suggests that there were still problems with sexism at the time of Harry Potter. Witches and wizards are still expected to master different skills, and there are no known examples of male wizards with a proficiency for Love Potions. Notice that none of Harry's Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers were female, and there seem to have been more men among the Aurors than women.
This subtly reinterprets a couple of key elements of Harry Potter lore. Firstly, it adds a delicious irony to the fact that the most prominent Lestrange in Voldemort's ranks was Bellatrix - a woman. Secondly, it reinterprets Draco Malfoy's frustration with Hermione; not only is he angry that a Half-Blood is smarter than him, but she's a woman to boot. Hermione's ultimate ascension to the role of Minister for Magic was presumably a historic moment for women's rights in the wizarding world.
Dumbledore and Grindelwald's Blood Pact
The bond between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald has fascinated Harry Potter fans ever since it was first revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Grindelwald had been tied to the rise of Nazism in Europe ever since he was first mentioned. It's no coincidence that he was defeated in 1945, the year WWII ended. As such, the idea that the young Dumbledore was drawn to a charismatic Nazi was deeply disturbing, and it's no surprise it left Harry reeling. But Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald adds another element to this - a mysterious Blood Pact forged between the two when they were just teenagers. Although Rowling is yet to clarify what exactly the Blood Pact means, it appears that neither can act directly against the other.
This fits surprisingly well with Harry Potter canon. According to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the young Albus and Gellert parted ways in a violent exchange of magic when Grindelwald was confronted by Albus's brother, Aberforth. Suddenly this three-way Wizard's Duel becomes much more interesting, because any Killing Curses unleashed by Albus and Grindelwald would have a serious risk of backfiring. It's hardly a surprise that poor Ariana Dumbledore was caught in the crossfire, and died.
This subtly redeems Dumbledore's story in the Fantastic Beasts saga. No longer is he watching from the sidelines, pulling strings but refusing to intervene directly because he's still in love with Grindelwald. Instead, according to the screenplay, he bitterly regrets the Blood Pact, and is presumably eager to step in personally. No doubt Albus Dumbledore will dedicate himself to breaking the power of the Blood Pact once and for all, but it will take some years for him to accomplish his goal. Either that, or he'll find a way to work around it.