Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has continued to expand the world of Harry Potter, but along the way, J.K. Rowling has changed the history of Dumbledore’s secret organization, the Order of the Phoenix.
The second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series has proved to be a turning point for the expanding Harry Potter franchise. Unlike its predecessors, The Crimes of Grindelwald proved to be a divisive offering for both critics and fans. The movie was criticized not only for its complicated plotting and dull direction, but also for its changing of Harry Potter continuity.
Rowling may still be celebrated as one of the best modern writers. Yet despite her penchant for misdirection and dramatic twists, many of her developments within Fantastic Beasts 2 came under heavy scrutiny. Changes to the canon, such as the appearance of a young Professor McGonagall years before her canonical birth date, affronted fans, while the titular villain’s vision of the Second World War digressed from the series’ general allusion to real-world events. The biggest sticking point was when The Crimes of Grindelwald revealed that Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) was the brother of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).
But among these changes to Dumbledore’s past - and the Wizarding World at large - Rowling has also subtly retconned how the future Hogwarts headmaster formed his anti-Voldemort task-force: the Order of the Phoenix.
- This Page: Is The Order of the Phoenix in Fantastic Beasts?
- Page 2: Is Dumbledore's Organization A Plot Hole or Improvement?
The Order of the Phoenix In The Harry Potter Books
Though the history of the Order of the Phoenix isn’t detailed until the fifth Harry Potter book, this secret society remains a vital part of the Wizarding World mythos. Founded and lead by Albus Dumbledore, the Order is a secret society which, according to The Order of the Phoenix novel, was formed during Lord Voldemort's first campaign for power in the 1960s and 70s.
The Order was a separate organization from the Ministry of Magic, but various officials still pledged themselves to Dumbledore, alongside a variety of contacts and skilled duellists from across the wizarding world. Despite being vastly outnumbered by Voldemort’s followers, this group of witches and wizards were dedicated to bringing down the dark wizard, and they proved to be an effective force against You Know Who. Moreover, Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom’s parents each foiled three of Voldemort’s plots during the First Wizarding War.
Even so, the Order was close to defeat before Voldemort fell. They disbanded after the dark lord’s apparent death, but Dumbledore swiftly recalled them when Voldemort returned. This new iteration of the Order included much of Harry Potter’s principal cast, along with their families and friends, and they proved to be even more effective than their predecessors. Indeed, they became one of the only resistance cells after Dumbledore died and the Ministry of Magic fell under Voldemort’s control. Nevertheless, after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Order presumably parted ways once again.
As we can see from its history in the Harry Potter books, the Order of the Phoenix was formed twice, both times to Voldemort. However, the latest Fantastic Beasts movie suggests that a version of the group existed over a decade before Tom Riddle even attended Hogwarts.
Is Dumbledore's Secret Group In Fantastic Beasts The Order of the Phoenix?
Whilst Fantastic Beasts ostensibly follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the series also fills in the gaps of Albus Dumbledore’s mysterious past. This is largely summarised by various unreliable narrators, especially where Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is concerned.
Dumbledore revealed that, after the death of his sister Ariana, he remained teaching at Hogwarts and only saw his former lover one final time – their legendary duel of 1945. Even though Grindelwald was terrorizing Europe, Dumbledore avoided confronting him in any form, due to the trauma of their last encounter. But Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald added new and surprising details to Dumbledore’s past.
Midway through The Crimes of Grindelwald, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Torquil Travers (Derek Riddell) travels to Hogwarts to see Dumbledore. In their conversation, Travers reveals that Dumbledore is the leader of an international group of spies, which Travers is very suspicious of. Dumbledore asserts that they are only working to combat the dark wizard’s efforts, but the Ministry still threatens to move against Dumbledore's team if he doesn’t comply with them.
It transpires that Dumbledore is prevented from confronting Grindelwald himself due to a blood pact that they had made in their youth, but that hasn't stopped him from organizing an opposing force. Indeed, this group is referenced again later in the film, during Nicholas Flamel’s (Brontis Jodorowsky) introductory scenes. After Flamel sees fearful visions in his crystal ball, the alchemist seizes an enchanted book and uses it to contact Professor Eulalie "Lally" Hicks (Jessica Williams), a Professor at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in America.
This is significant for several reasons. Not only does it introduce Hicks - who is set to have a greater role in Fantastic Beasts 3 – but the magical rolodex that Flamel utilizes has a phoenix sigil embossed on its cover. It must be noted that the image of a phoenix alone is not concrete proof of the Order’s presence and that magical book could simply be referencing Albus Dumbledore himself; Albus’ patronus has long taken the form of this legendary bird, and as the Aurelius reveal demonstrates, these creatures have been closely tied to the Dumbledore family for generations.
Even so, this brief sequence clearly highlights that Hicks and Flamel are part of Dumbledore’s secret organisation. Furthermore, the fact that they’re using a phoenix-styled method of communication suggests that this group is the Order of the Phoenix – or their forerunners at the very least. This reveal has implications for the extended Harry Potter universe.