Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has teased a fascinating possibility, that everything Harry Potter fans know Dumbledore's legendary defeat of Grindelwald is a lie. Albus Dumbledore has always been presented as a secretive man, manipulating those around him and carefully keeping his own counsel. In the aftermath of his death, Harry Potter was horrified when tabloid journalist Rita Skeeter published a biography of his beloved mentor, in which she revealed countless secrets that Dumbledore had hidden for decades. The Fantastic Beasts films have already confirmed that Dumbledore still had a lot more secrets as well, not least being the Blood Pact that explained why he didn't battle Grindelwald in The Crimes of Grindelwald.
There's a sense in which the Fantastic Beasts franchise is telling a story audiences thought they already knew; Grindelwald is a known figure in the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts timeline, destined to be defeated in 1945 in a legendary battle with Dumbledore. And yet, Rowling has gone to great effort to ensure the story remains surprising. Credence's very existence is a curveball in this narrative, unexpected and unpredictable. The films promise to continue to focus upon Newt Scamander and his friends, with Dumbledore as a background character rather than the star of the show. There's something very strange about the setup. It's causing many to complain in confusion, but franchise star Ezra Miller has assured viewers that they should trust Rowling.
Given the Fantastic Beasts franchise is headed in an unexpected direction, it's important for fans to question everything they thought they knew. The history of Albus Dumbledore appears to be like a Russian nesting doll; every time people think they know the truth about the man, they open up the doll and find themselves confronted with a new truth. Is that even the case with what fans thought were established facts? Specifically - will Albus Dumbledore be the one to defeat Gellert Grindelwald after all, or was he simply lying about the story all along?
- This Page: Everything We Know About Grindelwald's Defeat
- Next Page: Could Credence Be The One Who Truly Defeated Grindelwald?
What We Know About Grindelwald's Defeat
The dark wizard Grindelwald was first mentioned on Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It was only a brief mention, but it established that Grindelwald will ultimately be defeated in 1945. Dumbledore's triumph is credited as one of the greatest achievements of his life, alongside his discovery of the twelve uses of dragon's blood and his work on alchemy with Nicolas Flamel. That was the sole mention of Grindelwald until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which saw Rita Skeeter investigate Dumbledore's history in the wake of his death. Skeeter discovered that Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald were once close friends, and that the young Dumbledore even shared Grindelwald's philosophy for a time. It was ultimately revealed that the two bonded in their shared obsession over the Elder Wand and the Deathly Hallows, but parted ways in a violent altercation that led to the death of Albus' sister, Ariana.
In a mystical experience, Albus Dumbledore explained to Harry Potter that his past ties to Grindelwald had made him reluctant to intervene as Grindelwald drew all Europe into war. It was only in 1945 that Dumbledore finally agreed to battle against his old friend, leading to that fateful duel. It's now become clear that this was an oversimplification; after all, Dumbledore didn't mention anything about the Blood Pact that was revealed in Fantastic Beasts 2.
But Rita Skeeter claimed there were more secrets in Dumbledore's history. "I'm afraid those who go dewy-eyed over Dumbledore's spectacular victory must brace themselves for a bombshell," she snarked, "or perhaps a Dungbomb. Very dirty business indeed. All I'll say is, don't be so sure that there really was the spectacular duel of legend. After they've read my book, people may be forced to conclude that Grindelwald simply conjured a white handkerchief from the end of his wand and came quietly!" As a tabloid journalist, Skeeter is hardly a reliable source. And yet, she was right about the historic friendship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Skeeter had her own sources, ones closely connected to Albus Dumbledore, and a lot of the information they gave her seems to have been accurate.