Fantastic Prequels and Where to Find Them

fanThis week, Entertainment Weekly released the first official images and plot premise for the upcoming, much anticipated, film of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, based on the supplemental text that, along with Quidditch through the Ages, was a charity-support book that amused Harry Potter readers with annotations from our familiar favorite Hogwarts student trio, while we were champing at the bit for an overdue next installment.

The film’s plot, it appears, will be more story-driven than the charming little collection of various wizarding world fauna, observed and described by the intrepid “magizoologist” Newt Scamander, whose other primary contribution to Harry’s story is being the ancestor of Luna Lovegood’s eventual husband. While the book takes a dictionary approach and is entertaining primarily for the marginal notes (I love Ron and Harry’s game of hangman, in particular, and Harry’s commentary on the fact that Hagrid obviously never read the acromantula entry, along a with a few others), the film will follow Scamander on his 1928 adventures in New York, carrying a briefcase that would clearly come from the same accessory aisle as Hermione’s beaded handbag. Only, instead of books, Horcruxes, and too-small blue jeans, Scamander’s briefcase contains a number of the interesting creatures he has collected on his travels. The word on the street is that, while making American friends, seeing the sights (including the American counterpart to the Ministry of Magic, located in the Woolworth building), Scamander will run into trouble when some of those critters also decide to sightsee.

Rowling herself is penning the script, and while this also means we’ll continue to ponder the complexities of an author who continues to edit, revamp, and expand her literary world, it also means there will be plenty of the complexity and layering we have come to expect from the Hogwarts adventures. Even though she has never written a film screenplay, Rowling clearly has a strong grasp on the cinematic side of story-telling, long ago creating scenes that just begged to be filmed. Will Fantastic Beasts be Fantastic? It’s hard to tell, with a release date over a year out (November 2016), but the teasers and pictures do offer a few little tidbits that make us eager to see what Rowling has up her sleeve…. And what Newt has in his briefcase. So, here are the four things (one for each house, though in no particular order)  that I’m most interested to see develop as the film takes shape, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on these and more.

  1. Age of Hufflepuff

In September, Rowling tweeted that this is the Dawn of the Age of Hufflepuff, with Teddy Lupin a proud Badger who became Head Boy. But all eyes (lots of eyes, if there are acromantulas involved) in this new age will be on Newt Scamander, who proudly sports his Hufflepuff colors in the scarf he wears in these early shots. What does it mean to have a hero who is from the often under-rated Hufflepuffs? How will he differ from our usual Gryffindor protagonists? We expect a hero who will be loyal, hardworking, and accepting, good qualities in a studious English wizard abroad, but demonstrating that any house can produce witches and wizards with nearly any trait, Newt will doubtless be as brave as a Gryffindor to deal with all those mad and hairy carry-ons in the briefcase, and sharp as a Ravenclaw to understand them (and actor Eddie Redmayne has played Stephen Hawking, so being brainy is familiar to him). Is he also cunning as a Slytherin? We’ll have to see.fantastic-beasts-02

  1. Familiar Names?

Joining Newt in the story, and in some of these stills, are the lovely Goldstein sisters, Porpentia (Tina) and Queenie. Their name indicates that they may be connected to Harry’s classmate Anthony Goldstein, who, since he is a Ravenclaw, may owe his smarts to these ladies, though, from the pictures, I’m eager to see if the resemblances to other characters will also be explored (I know there are only so many ways to do hair and costume, but I am getting some Snape, Umbridge, and Rita Skeeter hints from the stills of the Goldstein sisters). Newt’s Muggle friend, Jacob Kowalski, has a sort of Uncle Vernon vibe, too. I am eager to see what develops with these characters, and how they connect (or not, as Rowling is famous for her red herrings) to the rest of the story we already know.

  1. Yeh’ve got to stroke ‘em!

Ok, I’ll bite (sorry, I couldn’t resist); I want to see the creatures. I am hoping we’ll see better technology versions of familiar furry friends, like those acromanulas, who could do with a CGI upgrade. But let’s face it, there are lots of critters in that book that were never in the novels, much less the movies. Do we want to see them? Of course we do! Even though Newt seems a little more reserved than Hagrid, we can bet on him to have some things in that case that he didn’t declare at customs, and when they get out, chaos will ensue. But it’s New York, so scary critters shouldn’t be so tough to handle, right? Judging by what are clearly reaction shots to a creature not yet in the scene, some of these critters may be coming in Supersize. Hagrid will be thrilled.fantastic-beasts-04

  1. Coming to America

Ever since the tantalizing hints from the Quidditch World Cup in Goblet of Fire, we’ve all wanted to know more about the Wizarding World outside Britain, so that wish will be granted, and along with learning that American wizards call Muggles “no-maj”s , there will doubtless be many more little details we learn about how the magical world functions on this side of the Atlantic. I am eager to see if Rowling can make the magic happen, even in America.



As more details emerge, we’ll doubtless have more comments (some perhaps scribbled in book margins) and we’ll await the arrival of next year’s Fantastic Beasts—best to keep a baseball bat, wand, or hard shoe at the ready: who knows what may come slithering, stomping, flying, or swimming out next?





  1. Joe No-Maj says

    I’m kind of hoping to see werewolves in this trilogy at some point, for one thing. In addition, I think Rowling could also make use of vampires. Sure, many people seem frustrated at how overused vampires are in modern fiction, but the same thing could easily be said about werewolves, which were portrayed by Rowling as having most of the basic traits they have in films and TV shows such as An American Werewolf in London and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What makes their appearance in the HP series memorable, however, is how they interacted with the other magica elements of Rowling’s wizarding world. So vampires, IMHO, may be able to function nicely in this story, depending on how they, too, interact with the elements of the setting.

  2. As a fellow Hufflepuff I’m really looking forward to this story and how Ms. Rowling has adapted a companion book into a full blown story. Thank you for your analysis of what is to come.

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