What Rowling Needs To Do To Avoid Becoming Lucas
J.K Rowling should first and foremost address Fantastic Beasts’ relationship to Harry Potter, because unfortunately many issues with this newer series can be traced back to its predecessor. Certainly, audiences are very aware that Fantastic Beasts is a prequel. As such, references and inter-connectivity do not need to be as heavily pronounced, especially since they begin to have a negative effect on the story.
In the Star Wars prequels, audiences were unhappy to discover that Chewbacca and Yoda had met each other during Revenge of the Sith. The inclusion of Nicolas Flamel in The Crimes of Grindelwald was similarly poorly-received. Of course, Flamel might have more to do in the rest of the franchise, and it’s entirely possible that Flamel was living in Paris during the 1920s. Even so, his – and Chewbacca's – respective appearances ultimately mean very little in the movie’s overarching story. The temptation to explain backstories for all of their beloved characters must have been considerable, especially for writers as meticulous as Rowling and Lucas. Yet by interlinking everything, these fictional universes feel smaller and insular instead of being broadened and far-reaching. Therefore, characters and references like this should only be included if they manifestly serve the plots and protagonists of each future Fantastic Beasts film.
Certainly, this spotlight upon characters is crucial to the series’ success. As stated earlier, what endeared the public to Harry and his friends were their multi-faceted personalities and a series of relatable quirks. But for many, this connection has yet to occur in Fantastic Beasts. Indeed, much of the series’ existence is justified by its direct relationship to the events of Harry Potter. Nowhere is this more evident than Credence Barebone. An all-new character he might be, yet Credence ultimately discovers that he’s related to a character from the original series – Albus Dumbledore. As such, the new protagonists should be allowed to expand on their own unique terms, but they are not given time to do so.
The stakes are always high in Fantastic Beasts, and Newt and his friends are always rushing to save creatures, stop Grindelwald and rescue Credence Barebone. All the while, Rowling explores several other issues and subplots, including the wizarding world’s ingrained sexism. As interesting as Leta’s backstory is, it detracts from the main characters, whose personal stakes can’t be established in this whirlwind of urgency and information. Moreover, the "Salamander eyes" scene in The Crimes of Grindelwald is a sweet standout scene because it takes the time to foreground Newt and Tina’s relationship. In short, Rowling needs to relax and trust in these new creations and allow them to flourish on their substantial merits.
Above all, J.K. Rowling needs to relax her grip upon the franchise and allow others to have a say in its development. This is not to say that she should be side-lined. Far from it; as the Wizarding World’s creator, Rowling is entitled to do what she pleases with her creation. But a vital lesson that can be learned from George Lucas’ handling of the Star Wars prequels is that the creator may not always act in their creation’s best interests.
It’s understandable that both Lucas and Rowling are not wholly satisfied with their worlds. Yet neither recognise that their meddling with established details (Greedo shooting first and Professor McGonagall’s history) only serves to alienate longstanding fans who have cherished every aspect of these worlds. In light of this, Fantastic Beasts should tread carefully where Harry Potter-retcons are concerned.
Additionally, since 2015 Star Wars has flourished again. The various new talents that have contributed to Star Wars have respected what Lucas accomplished before. However, they have embellished and advanced the saga with their new voices and ideas. Rowling doubtlessly knows more about Harry Potter than anyone else alive and, in light of the more exciting developments within The Crimes of Grindelwald, it is clear that she still has much to offer to the Fantastic Beasts series. But if a scriptwriter is not hired to help augment her stories for the silver screen, then Rowling should at least consider co-writing the three remaining sequels to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. This would hopefully give the series a new lease of life, and preventing more situations like the Nagini controversy from ever arising.
Whilst many are anticipating Fantastic Beasts 3, many are concerned about the series’ future in light of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’s various shortcomings. But hope is not lost. Indeed, the saga still retains a huge amount of potential to thrill and inspire audiences. Only a few modest amendments are needed to restore magic to the series, and thus avoid the many pitfalls that the Star Wars prequels failed to miss.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018