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Fantastic Beasts & Harry Potter's Different Grindelwalds Risk A Timeline Problem

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald needs to address whether it's a prequel to the Harry Potter books or movies - and how its Gellert Grindelwald fits into both timelines. The sequel will introduce audiences to new characters and locations within the Wizarding World universe, but will also tie into the known mythology.

Set in 1927, The Crimes of Grindelwald reunites Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Tina and Queenie Goldstein (Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) as they face the evil that is creeping into the wizarding world. They’re joined by a younger version of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) who steers them into directly confronting the charismatic dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).

Related: Fantastic Beasts 2 May Retcon Harry Potter To Fix Grindelwald Plot Hole

Fans have long desired to see the machinations of these famous, formidable magicians receive their due attention, ever since Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s rivalry was first revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. However, in depicting their power play, the Harry Potter filmmakers threaten to disrupt even the best-made plans in this multi-platform franchises.

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There's A Huge Difference Between The Book And Movie Versions Of Grindelwald

The character of Gellert Grindelwald has proved to be a rather prickly problem for makers of the Fantastic Beasts series. The casting of Johnny Depp in the role has courted controversy due to his numerous lawsuits and Amber Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse. Plus, moviegoers have accused the filmmakers of straight-washing Grindelwald and Dumbledore when it was revealed that the two characters  – and their teenage summer romance – wouldn’t be explicitly referenced in The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Yet the big bad of Fantastic Beasts exemplifies another issue that threatens the franchise: the tricky consolidation of its canon. The matter becomes clearer if we look back at Grindelwald’s first film appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. At this point, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has ultimate control of the Ministry of Magic, and is now on a quest to find the fabled Elder Wand – one of the Deathly Hallows the most powerful wand in existence – so that he can sidestep the tricky connection between his and Harry’s weapons. By claiming the wand, he’ll be able to eliminate Harry and vanquish any future opposition as well.

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Save for a deleted scene in Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone, Grindelwald hadn’t really featured in the series yet. He momentarily appears as a youth (Jamie Campbell Bower) in flashbacks, before Voldemort confronts him near the end of Deathly Hallows: Part 1. At this point, Grindelwald is in his twilight years. Veteran English actor Michael Byrne gives a small yet chilling and effective performance as Dumbledore’s one-time opponent; he cackles with glee when Voldemort arrives, revealing the location of the Elder Wand almost immediately. In a rare move, Voldemort spares his life and disappears.

Related: Warner Bros. Should Recast Johnny Depp's Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts

But readers of the books will know that this scene occurs somewhat differently in the last Harry Potter novel. Book Grindelwald similarly expected Voldemort to visit him, but instead of answering the Dark Lord’s questions, Grindelwald openly defies Voldemort. In fact, he taunts Voldemort about his lack of magical insight and predicts that the Elder Wand will never bend to his will. Voldemort soon kills Grindelwald in a fit of rage, only acquiring the Deathstick through his own intuition.

Most importantly of all, the cinematic Grindelwald displays no consideration for his nemesis. On the other hand, Harry and Dumbledore disclose several key details during their famous conversation at Kings Cross in the novel; Dumbledore acknowledges that Grindelwald began to regret his crimes and his conflict with the Hogwarts Headmaster during his later years. Harry even speculates that Grindelwald refused Voldemort to spare Dumbledore’s grave from being disturbed.

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The contrast between these two depictions of Grindelwald is most curious. It betrays that there are notable differences between the Harry Potter books and movies, thus creating a noticeable fissure in all content that is set in the Wizarding World.

Page 2 of 3: The Fantastic Beasts Movies Are Struggling To Accommodate Harry Potter

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