How Are They Going to Pull Off… The Harry Potter Universe Prequels

Holly and I went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and we’ll probably be podcasting on it soon (statute of limitations and all…), but I thought I would muse for a moment on the fact that this is the beginning of a five movie franchise. I’ve written one of these sorts of posts before, and hope to continue them. So what about this series?

I’ll try to avoid spoilers! But a few things to be said first. This movie was based on a character who was known only by name in the Harry Potter books – the in-universe author of the book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” That book is a textbook used in the magical creatures class that Hagrid teaches. So this film is a way to go back and see this fictional author, Newt Scamander, in his element with all kinds of cool magical beasts. Which seems great as a one-off book.

Also to note, this movie is set in the earlier part of the 20th century, during the wizarding war centered around Grindelwald. So there’s plenty of unexplored/unexplained storytelling to explore there – but as far as we know from the Harry Potter books, it’s not like Newt Scamander’s name comes up as the hero of that war.

Alright, with those elements out of the way, let’s talk about what I might do with the films, and then briefly discuss some of the current rumors and talk!

A Book for Every Occasion…

It seems to me that, the thing to focus on most is probably that wizarding war. Which, we know how it ends: Dumbledore beats Grindelwald in a duel. However, as we also hear from Dumbledore, he stayed out of the war for far too long, so following him isn’t necessarily the best route to storytelling this, you need other perspectives. Also, Dumbledore isn’t the sort of character that would be easy to explore as a main character – he just knows so much, keeps so many secrets, is so cunning and pragmatic and powerful…

Still, this is probably all to the good. I think one of the major failings of the prequel-series-that-shall-not-be-named (the Star Wars prequels…) was that we knew exactly where it was all heading, the whole time. And the how-they-got-there wasn’t as good as the mythology of the series had led us to imagine. By showing us these events not by following the main players that we know the results for, but instead following some secondary characters as the mains, they can get into the story and have us still wondering what’s going to happen. Do our heroes win in the end? Sure, but there’s a whole lot of unknowns on the way there.

With that in mind, which secondary characters? I think I know who I’d like to see. This movie was named for one famous-wizard-textbook-writer… how about more?

To be fair, of those books, there's one that Rowling has written and released...

To be fair, of those books, there’s one that Rowling has written and released…

I would love to see a “History of Magic” movie following Bathilda Bagshot, things like that, all focused around and moving forward through the trouble times of the Grindelwald era. It would give a bit of a feeling for the audience of knowing what’s coming, and give a bit of a thematic feel to the film like Fantastic Beasts did with the, well, the fantastic beasts.

Sure, the titles would bounce around and such, but not every franchise needs to be “name of first book: subtitle of this book.” Sure, it’s worked nicely for Game of Thrones, but it’s been kind of painful to see from like TwilightThe Hunger GamesDivergent… People seem to be following other franchises, like the Marvel films, okay without having to share a name…

The Story So Far…

Okay, so let’s look at some of the known rumors. Instead of giving a whole bunch of spoilers here, I’ll link out to them! So check that out if you’re curious, then let’s discuss.

Meanwhile, a trailer for a spoiler break!

Back from the few rumors there are? Well, I feel like with my thoughts I’m on the same track they are… sort of.

While Newt Scamander and company seem like they will show up in all the films, it remains to be seen if they’ll be main characters. They seem to be spanning 19 years, so potentially the whole war (and beyond? Don’t remember how long it went on, or if we really know from the books…) and exploring that angle.

And they’re keeping the “Fantastic Beasts and” prefix, which is too bad, but does match the “Harry Potter and” pattern this all started from. It feels like a missed opportunity, but hey, those other authors could still make an appearance.

What about you – what do you think about this series? I’ve avoided spoilers here in the post, but in the comments, feel free (and be so warned!). I think there’s a lot of talk to be had about “wait, there’s going to be four more movies after this one?” Because yep, there’s going to be four more movies after this one. Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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