J.K. Rowling keeps changing Harry Potter canon in an effort to improve it, but her efforts have mostly had the opposite effect. Rowling's original Harry Potternovel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or, as it's known in the U.S., The Sorcerer's Stone) took the world by storm when it hit bookshelves in 1997, and kicked off an entire series of books about the young boy wizard's adventures. The first Harry Potter movie adaptation hit theaters shortly after in 2001 and was an equally massive success at the global box office. A further seven films were released after that and combined for a total worldwide gross of $7.7 billion.
Unsurprisingly, in the years since The Boy Who Lived's saga concluded, the larger franchise (now known as the Wizarding World) has expanded to encompass theme park lands, video games, the official Pottemore website, a sequel play titled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and a series of prequel films about magizoologist Newt Scamander (aka. the Fantastic Beasts series). In that same time, Rowling has worked tirelessly to expand the Wizarding World mythology, including the universe's history and the backstories for its many, many characters. And yet, if anything, Rowling seems to have hurt Harry Potter's continuity more than enriched it.
Indeed, it seems like every time Rowling reveals something new about the Wizarding World these days, the fan response is anything but positive. However, to really understand why that is, we have to go back in time to a point when Rowling's changes to the Harry Potter canon tended to be better received.
- This Page: J.K. Rowling Has Been Adding to Harry Potter Canon For Years
- Page 2: J.K. Rowling Is Addicted To Adding Harry Potter Lore
J.K. Rowling Has Been Adding to Harry Potter Canon For Years
Back in 2007, Rowling surprised the world by revealing that Harry's beloved Hogwarts headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, was in fact gay. The announcement was largely well-received by many fans at the time, who applauded the writer for making such an important character in the franchise canonically queer. At the same time, even back then, some people questioned if Rowling would ever actually address Dumbledore's sexuality explicitly in a Wizarding World book and/or film. After all, the seven Harry Potter novels had all been published by then and there wasn't much reason to suspect that the remaining films would include anything on the topic that wasn't already in the source material. Over the years that followed (pre-Fantastic Beasts), Rowling's announcement about Dumbledore came to feel a bit hollow, like a promise that would never really be fulfilled.
Since then, Rowling has continued to flesh out the Wizarding World in other ways, ranging from major reveals about the existence of other wizarding schools around the world to minor character details, like Ravenclaw student Anthony Goldstein being Jewish. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which is based on a story that Rowling cowrote) took things a step further and revealed that Voldemort - the main villain of the Harry Potter series - had conceived a child with his faithful servant, Bellatrix Lestrange, prior to his death. Still, the Fantastic Beasts movies (which are being written by Rowling) have arguably made the most dramatic changes and amendments to the Harry Potter canon yet. So far, the more significant alterations include the reveal that Voldemort's snake Nagini was actually a Maledictus (that is, a shape-shifting human who eventually became permanently trapped in their snake form) and the discovery that Dumbledore had a long-lost brother... though, the latter reveal might end up being a lie concocted by Fantastic Beasts' antagonist, Gellert Grindelwald.
These Changes Make the Wizarding World More Inclusive
It's generally been obvious why Rowling keeps adding new twists to the Harry Potter canon: it's part of an effort on her part to make the franchise more inclusive, when it comes to race and sexuality in particular. While the original Harry Potter books and movies included people of color (Parvati and Padma Patil, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Cho Chang), they were all primarily supporting characters who played smaller roles in the series' overarching narrative. The movies were relatively more inclusive than the novels when it came to race, admittedly, and would cast actors of various ethnicities to help fill out the halls of Hogwarts. Nevertheless, the protagonists were all white (as were important players like Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood), and there weren't any openly queer characters at the time; even Dumbledore's orientation was limited to subtext only back then.
For the most part though, this wasn't unusual when Rowling was writing the Harry Potter books. In fact, she probably wasn't even taking diversity of race and/or sexuality into consideration all that much when she was crafting her novels, and she certainly wasn't receiving feedback on the matter from critics and fans the way she has in the years since then. Rowling's attempts to correct this issue haven't been limited to mentioning details about Harry Potter characters after the fact, either. The writer has incorporated people of color into her Fantastic Beasts scripts too, with the more notable examples including Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz) and Nagini, who's played by South Korea-born actress Claudia Kim. At the same time, Rowling has been criticized for restricting these characters to supporting roles (like in the Harry Potter stories), giving them highly problematic backstories, and/or doing little more than paying lip-service to her critics.