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Fantastic Beasts 2's Biggest Harry Potter Retcons (And Plot Holes)

WARNING: Major spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has made some massive changes to the Harry Potter canon - with retcons and plot holes aplenty. When J.K. Rowling first wrote the seven Harry Potter books, one of the biggest points of praise was her accessible yet dense continuity that was mapped out well beyond the stories of the boy wizard and retained an impeccable internal consistency: dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, the main villain of the prequel series, was first mentioned in 1997 in a manner that matches the Johnny Depp presentation.

However, as time's worn on, that continuity's begun to strain. Pottermore has allowed Rowling to greatly expand on her world, even though it often feels made up on the fly. Then, stage-play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which Rowling provided the story for, emerged as time travel fan fiction. Sealing the deal, though, is Fantastic Beasts, a five-movie prequel series to both the books and movies that has already thrown up a multitude of canonical inconsistencies and outright retcons.

Related: Fantastic Beasts Is Stretching Harry Potter Continuity To Breaking Point

While the first movie was just teasing these aspects, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald goes into full retcon mode, casually rewriting key character details and dropping redefining bombshells. It's an onslaught that even diehard Potterheads will get confused by. As such, here's every change Fantastic Beasts 2 made to Harry Potter canon.

Dumbledore Had Another Brother

The big twist of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is that Credence Barebone is not, as has been agonizingly teased for the past two hours a Lestrange. As Grindelwald reveals after handing him a wand, he's really Aurelius Dumbledore, a hitherto-unknown brother to Albus.

From the Harry Potter books, specifically The Deathly Hallows which saw details posthumously emerge about the Hogwarts headmaster, we knew Albus Dumbledore had two siblings: disgraced wizard Aberforth (who runs the Hog's Head Inn by the 1990s) and squib/obscurial Ariana (who died during a battle between Albus and Grindelwald before the events of Fantastic Beasts). There's been no mention of a fourth Dumbledore anywhere in the canon before the Credence reveal.

This is a pretty major retcon given how important Ariana and Aberforth have become to the mythology, and one that the canon may be further stretched to accommodate. Albus' muggle mother died in 1899, while his father went to Azkaban in 1890 and was never released. As Credence was born around 1910, there's a major gap in his birth. It's possible that the timeline has been shifted due to the Harry Potter movies, which are set a decade after the books are supposed to, or that he was conceived in the prison. Of course, that only leaves more questions.

Dumbledore & Grindelwald's Blood Oath

Dumbledore and Grindelwald's past is mostly skipped over in Fantastic Beasts 2. We get a hint at the death of Ariana and an even lighter wink towards their implied sexual relationship, but the films are still a way off approaching an explanation of their past that book readers know. In fact, the only concrete reveal in the film is something totally new in the canon.

Through Dumbledore's longing look in the Mirror of Erised, we see that Albus and Gellert entered into a blood pact, a magical bond that stops the pair from - presumably - killing the other. This is why Dumbledore sends Newt after Grindelwald, and would also explain Ariana's death; if the pair can't kill each other, it would be much easier for a stray spell to hit her. But, most importantly, it presents an alternate reasoning for why Dumbledore didn't take Grindelwald down for another two decades: he was working to remove the enchantment, a physical embodiment of his youthful attraction.

Dumbledore Taught Defence Against the Dark Arts

One thing that has been known for a long time about Albus Dumbledore is that he was Hogwarts' Transfiguration Professor before becoming Headmaster. In Fantastic Beasts 2, however, he's shown to be in charge of Defence Against the Dark Arts, teaching students how to defend themselves in battle for generations: from Newt's school years through to 1927, when the Ministry seems to ban him.

It must be assumed that, given this was never mentioned before, Dumbledore was moved over to Transfiguration following this ban, a role he served in until becoming headmaster in 1955. While this doesn't necessarily contradict the past, the fact such a major aspect of a key character's past has escaped mention so far makes clear it was never the plan.

Related: Fantastic Beasts' Grindelwald Has Been Part Of The Harry Potter Movies Since 2001

Phoenixes Are Important To The Dumbledore Family

Dumbledore had a phoenix in the Harry Potter books ostensibly because that fit such a grand headmaster of a school for witchcraft and wizardry. Since then, the phoenix has been used as the namesake for secret organization the Order of the Phoenix and, now, worked into Albus' family lineage. He reveals to Newt that one is destined to come to a Dumbledore in need, and at the end the raven that Credence was healing reveals itself as a firey bird, Fawkes.

This has to be one of Fantastic Beasts' lightest retcons; really, it's more an expansion of an idea that was lingering since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Nevertheless, it sees dots being drawn between coincidence, something that's true of most prequels often to their detriment.

Page 2: Fantastic Beasts 2's Retcons Of Harry Potter Canon

Key Release Dates
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018
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