The Secret Connection Between ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and ‘Harry Potter’
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens this week, and people are already dying to know: Will the Harry Potter spinoff connect to the Potter book series? ScreenCrush has some new theories that could tie everything together. (You might want to sit down for this.)
The new film, written by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates, will be the first of a five-film franchise about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his suitcase of magical creatures. The film, which opens Friday, is “inspired” by a fictional textbook mentioned in The Sorcerer’s Stone and follows Newt as he travels to New York City in 1926. The movie is a lot of fun, but as I wrote in my spoiler-free review, it left me with one major concern: Does the story of Newt and his beasts warrant four more movies? Watching a guy travel around the world to write a textbook is a pretty boring story. And while we know Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald will star in the sequel with a young Dumbledore, likely revealing their origin stories, how does Newt fit in?
I was skeptical for the new franchise when I sat down to review Fantastic Beasts with Jackson Bird, Director of Wizard-Muggle Relations (yes, that’s his real title) from the non-profit organization the Harry Potter Alliance. But then Jackson revealed a major Easter egg and two fan theories that could connect the spinoff to Rowling’s books and might reveal where the next films are headed. And I have to admit, his theories got me excited for four more Beasts movies. Check out our video above, which has huge SPOILERS for the ending of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Afterwards, read on for some more clarification on those theories.
Okay, so did you watch the video? Is your mind blown? Me too. But for those unfamiliar the Obscurus in Fantastic Beasts or who forgot Ariana Dumbledore, let me explain. In Fantastic Beasts Rowling introduces what appears to be a new concept: an Obscurus. Katherine Waterson’s Tina describes it in the movie as “an unstable, uncontrollable dark force that bursts out and attacks.” The movie reveals that at this point in wizarding history (and perhaps also before), witches and wizards were forced into hiding after being hunted and killed by extremist groups led by No-Majs and Muggles. As a result, many witches and wizards were forced to repress their magic, which in some cases led to the creation of an Obscurus.
Jackson’s theory suggests this might not be such a new concept after all, and may explain what happened to Dumbledore’s sister Ariana. While she was only briefly mentioned in the final Deathly Hallows movie, in the final book we learn Ariana suffered from spontaneous explosions of magic, which accidentally killed her mother. In the video, Jackson reads a passage from The Deathly Hallows in which Aberforth, Albus Dumbledore’s brother, explains what happened to their sister:
It destroyed her what they did, she was never right again. She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it. It turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it and at times she was strange and dangerous.
That certainly sounds similar to the Obscurus in Fantastic Beasts. But wait, we’re not done yet. Jackson pointed out a huge Easter egg found in the textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. While most of us thought the fictional book, published by Rowling in 2001, was just the inspiration behind the new movie, it holds a major clue. The books title page looks like this:
BOOM! The word Obscurus has actually existed in the Harry Potter universe since 2001. And remember, when we meet Newt in Fantastic Beasts he hasn’t yet written and published his textbook, so we can likely bet the future of the franchise will revisit it. How so, you ask? Well let me tell you!
Jackson’s final theory is one that could tie everything together. In the Fantastic Beasts movie, Colin Farrell‘s Percival Graves says to Newt, “I wonder, what makes Albus Dumbledore so fond of your, Mr. Scamander?” According to the theory, Dumbledore didn’t just send Newt on a world-traveling expedition to find and protect beasts for some silly textbook, but instead set him on a mission to find and capture Grindelwald.
We know from The Deathly Hallows that Dumbledore and Grindelwald have a long, troubled history. During Fantastic Beasts, Grindelwald is dangerous and on the loose. At the end of the movie, the Magical Congress of the United States of America (M.A.C.U.S.A.) destroys the film’s Obscurus. Grindelwald laments the loss of the Obscurus, and while his intentions are largely a mystery, he seemed interested in using the dark force for his own destructive means. Newt reveals he has a history of working with and helping wizards suffering from an Obscurus, so it would make sense for Dumbledore to send his trusted former student out to save those suffering from the unstable force before Grindelwald gets to them first.
Newt might be a bigger hero than we expected, and the Fantastic Beasts franchise might finally explain what happened to Dumbledore’s sister. Fingers crossed we get to meet the young Ariana in the future movies. Until then, keep the theories coming!