How Fantastic Beasts 3 Can Save The Harry Potter Prequel Series

How Fantastic Beasts 3 Can Save The Harry Potter Prequel Series

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore has an opportunity to save the Harry Potter prequel series – as long as it gets a few key decisions right. When it was announced by the studio that they planned to make a new Harry Potter universe film – the original Fantastic Beasts movie – it felt like it could be a good idea. J.K. Rowling had given Harry Potter and his friends a satisfying ending, but there was still so much to explore in the Wizarding World. With a mini-book written for charity serving as the central influence, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them moved the action to 1920s New York, centering the story on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his adventures with magical animals. Yet it was obvious that Rowling and director David Yates’ ambitions grew far beyond a one-off romp with a minor character, and the film spent time developing its mythos to show the rise of the dark forces that influenced Lord Voldemort. This all leads up to the latest installment of the franchise: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.

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The gambit ultimately paid off – at first. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore is the third of five installments that have covered the rise and fall of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp, who was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen), as well as bringing in elements familiar to fans, such as a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law). Given the phenomenal popularity of all things Harry Potter, which has not diminished since the end of the main series, it seemed that Warner Bros. had hit the jackpot with a failure-proof new franchise that could keep the fans satisfied and the money rolling in for a few more years.

Related: Fantastic Beasts & Harry Potter’s Different Grindelwalds Risk A Timeline Problem

Unfortunately, enthusiasm for the franchise waned with Fantastic Beasts 2’s story problems and the continuous breaking of the Harry Potter canon. It seems like their long-term franchise plan may be coming off the rails. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opened to bad reviews and fell short of box office expectations, making around $13 million less than its predecessor in its opening weekend. On top of that, people’s reactions ranged from confused to angry as Rowling and Yates made changes to the Harry Potter canon. Because of Fantastic Beasts 2’s story problems, anticipation for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore isn’t as high as it could’ve been – but hope is not yet lost. Amid the carnage remains glimmers of incredible ambition and potential that Warner Bros. can build upon in Fantastic Beasts 3 and beyond. Here are some key ways that Fantastic Beasts 3 can save the Harry Potter prequel series.

How The Fantastic Beasts 3 Trailer Suggests It Could Save The Franchise

A brief moment in the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer sheds light on the fact that Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s romance might finally be explored. The prequel series has done some damage by introducing these two characters and then refusing to even mention their romantic relationship. Another way that the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer shows how the movie can fix the franchise is by providing some answers. In true J.K. Rowling fashion, the Harry Potter prequel series has been saving all pertinent information until the very end. While this worked for Harry Potter, it’s been a major stumbling block for Fantastic Beasts. Based on the trailer, it looks like some questions in regard to Grindelwald will, at last, be answered. Though the focus is no longer on Newt, nor his fantastic beasts, The Secrets of Dumbledore can provide by answering the major questions The Crimes of Grindelwald left in its wake. When Fantastic Beasts 3 comes out, these revelations will hopefully start to restore energy to the franchise. be brought to the forefront.

Franchise-Saving Opportunities The Fantastic Beasts 3 Trailer Has Missed

Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law in Fantastic Beasts The Secrets of Dumbledore

There are two major opportunities that the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer misses. The first is the fact that some major characters have been switched out for newer faces. Katherine Waterson’s Tina Goldstein is almost nonexistent, whereas she was a huge influence in both Fantastic Beasts and The Crimes of Grindelwald. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why J.K. Rowling chose to swap out major protagonists for minor ones, such as Theseus. Queenie, Tina, and even Credence are featured only briefly in the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer, in some cases not at all, suggesting that these characters many grew to love don’t play a major role in the new movie. Another way that the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer misses franchise-saving opportunities is by breaking the Harry Potter canon. Muggles aren’t supposed to be able to use wands or even see Hogwarts. Yet, the trailer shows Jacob using a wand, and prancing around a very visible Hogwarts. It’s doubtful that a litany of protective enchantments would be lifted during the time of Grindelwald’s reign just to have one Muggle on the premises. Surely, when Fantastic Beasts 3 comes out, the prequels will have a flimsy explanation for these changes.

Fantastic Beasts 3 Should Choose A Proper Protagonist: Newt, Credence, or Albus

Newt Scamander and Niffler in Fantastic Beasts Movie

So far, the Fantastic Beasts franchise seems to have used Scamander’s story as the Trojan horse to explore Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s conflict, which would be fine if it knew how to continue using Newt effectively once that narrative got off the ground. Instead, he seems like the third wheel in what is supposed to be his own story, as evidenced by the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer. All three characters are interesting enough to anchor the Fantastic Beasts movies but the franchise itself must pick one and build the appropriate narrative around them. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore should make that choice and ensure future movies have a sense of cohesion.

Related: Fixing Fantastic Beasts 2: Making A Bad Movie Great With Just 4 Changes

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is Newt Scamander’s story: he’s the one with the beasts and the narrative is mostly focused on his efforts to document them. In Fantastic Beasts 2, Scamander’s arc seems mostly ignored in favor of further developing Credence Barebone’s arc, as well as young Albus Dumbledore’s story. It’s a simple case of a lack of focus. It also emphasizes a key problem with the franchise: the Fantastic Beasts movies have no definitive protagonist and this has allowed the story to splinter off into disparate elements that either don’t mesh together or have no real direction. It doesn’t help that Fantastic Beasts 3 seems to mainly focus on Dumbledore.

Have Fantastic Beasts 3’s Harry Potter Cameos (And Retcons) Mean Something

Jessica Williams, Callum Turner, Jude Law, Dan Folger, and Eddie Redmayne in Fantastic Beasts The Secrets of Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts presented a unique opportunity for Rowling to expand the Harry Potter universe beyond Harry and his friends. It allowed Rowling and Warner Bros. to explore the American Wizarding community as well as the early 20th century; however, the lack of familiar characters may have proven too much of a risk for WB. Now, Albus Dumbledore is back at the forefront, the story has already returned to Hogwarts, and even Professor McGonagall returns in Fantastic Beasts 2 (completely demolishing the canon). Everything here makes the Harry Potter timeline even more confounding.

The problem here is that Fantastic Beasts 2 retcons aspects of the Harry Potter canon that weren’t necessarily significant, to begin with, and so those retcons don’t appear worth the effort of breaking continuity. This has proven to be a major sticking point, as many have always appreciated J.K. Rowling’s attention to detail. Expanding the Harry Potter mythos to the point where it converges with the familiar canon is not an impossible task, but additions like recognizable faces have to mean something. People know when they’re being cheaply pandered to, and it won’t work if it comes at the expense of that detailed canon. Retcons can be done well but must be handled with care, especially when dealing with a world as beloved as the Harry Potter franchise.

So, instead of having Nagini tag along in a bid to explain her origin or Nicolas Flamel key to stopping Grindelwald in Paris, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald should strip back the basic fanservice and make anything relating to Harry Potter have meaning to the whole Wizarding World, not just the audience. Based on the Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer, it doesn’t seem like this problem has been fixed just yet.

Related: Fantastic Beasts 3: J.K. Rowling May Have Already Spoiled Theseus’ Story

Fantastic Beasts 3 Needs To Explain What’s Going On With Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts Young Albus Dumbledore

With a title like Secrets of Dumbledore, Fantastic Beasts 3 has a huge opportunity to do more with Dumbledore. Albus Dumbledore’s backstory was long and eventful before he ever met Harry Potter: his father, Percival Dumbledore, was sentenced to life in Azkaban prison for harming a group of muggle boys who attacked his sister, Arianna Dumbledore. Dumbledore originally formed a friendship with Gellert Grindelwald and had at one point shared Grindelwald’s beliefs of a wizard-ruled world, but Dumbledore was later be forced to fight Grindelwald for control of the Elder Wand to stop his fascistic schemes. Their bond only became more complicated when it was revealed that Dumbledore and Grindelwald were in love.

As much as Rowling claims Dumbledore is the epitome of goodness in the Harry Potter series, fans have hotly debated the merits of his deeds and their ultimate impact on Harry as well as the Wizarding World. Overall, there is so much unexplored territory to cover with this increasingly complicated character, so it seemed sensible to bring him into the Fantastic Beasts movies. The story of a highly-skilled wizard hurt by both his family issues and the betrayal of the man he once loved was something fans hadn’t seen in the Wizarding World before, but it was also an opportunity to center a major Hollywood franchise on an LGBTQ+ character – something that would truly break new ground.

Yet, even Fantastic Beasts 2 didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do with Dumbledore, as it willingly bent its narrative to accommodate him. Dumbledore’s antagonistic relationship with Grindelwald is boiled down to a stock adversarial dynamic, and it’s not helped by Albus’ sexuality being downplayed. If viewers weren’t aware of Rowling’s confirmation that Dumbledore is gay, they wouldn’t be able to tell from his time on-screen in The Crimes of Grindelwald, which only further fuels accusations of queer-baiting. It’s a major missed opportunity for WB to explore such a fascinating character, and to show the emotional impact of his relationship with Grindelwald. Fantastic Beasts 3 must understand why fans have such lofty expectations when it comes to Dumbledore. At least when Fantastic Beasts 3 comes out, some of these questions can be answered.

Fantastic Beasts Should Tell A Good Story First, World Build Second

Abernathy Queenie Fantastic Beasts

With yet more new locations becoming canon, Fantastic Beasts 3 risks falling into the same unfocused world-building obsession as the other movies. They need to focus on the story, and Rowling’s world-building often gets in the way of narrative. Every seemingly minor detail in Wizarding World is offered an explanation, which leads to a rather un-cinematic experience. A movie cannot survive on admittedly impressive set pieces and special effects alone. Fantastic Beasts has a great story at its heart: the Wizarding World splintering as it deals with the international rise of Grindelwald and fascism. It offers a chance to take the Harry Potter franchise to different countries, introduce the politics of Wizarding relations, and tell a broad but still prescient story of good versus evil. The Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer suggests that this problem might be fixed. However, the 2 1/2 hour runtime says otherwise.

Related: Fantastic Beasts 3’s Most Powerful Trick Is Distracting You From Plot Holes

Rowling, unfortunately, complicates the Fantastic Beasts story with soap opera-style domestic twists that left audiences more confused than intrigued, and therefore diluted the overall impact of Grindelwald’s tyrannical mission. Rowling is also too heavily concerned with drawing parallels between the Wizarding World and the real world, from the obvious Nazi allegory of the pure-blood, anti-muggle wizards to the segregation laws that prevent wizards and muggles from marrying. These can be used to effectively build a world and tell a story but Rowling has lost that balance for now. Simply cutting down on the extemporaneous elements in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and focusing on a central story could make the Fantastic Beasts movies good.

Next: Fantastic Beasts 3 Trailer Hints At A Major Grindelwald & Dumbledore Fix

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022)Release date: Apr 15, 2022

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About The Author

Kayleigh Donaldson
(473 Articles Published)

Kayleigh Donaldson is a full-time pop culture and film writer from Scotland. A features contributor to Screen Rant, her work can also be found regularly on Pajiba and SYFY FANGRRLS. She also co-hosts The Hollywood Read podcast. Her favorite topics include star studies, classic Hollywood, box office analysis, industry gossip, and caring way too much about the Oscars. She can mostly be found on Twitter at @Ceilidhann.

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