ICYMI, the newest story set in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world was released on Friday in the form of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the movie taught us some pretty important things we didn’t know before…
1. First, and most importantly, it’s possible for a child to suppress their magic – but it comes at a cost.
When a child attempts to suppress their magical ability for fear of persecution (for example, during the era of the Salem Witch Trials), they develop what’s called an Obscurus – an uncontrollable force of dark magic that bursts free when the child loses control. Usually an Obscurial is killed by the force before they turn 10, but in the movie, Ezra Miller’s character, Credence, manages to survive longer due to the strength of his power.
The child has to know about their magic in order to suppress it, though – that’s why Harry Potter never developed an Obscurus. Harry was never told to suppress his magic, he was just told that magic didn’t exist.
2. And we ~may~ have seen an Obscurial before.
OK, so this is less of a “thing we learned” and more of a theory, but it’s definitely interesting.
It’s not confirmed (though a glance at J.K. Rowling’s Twitter faves may suggest otherwise), but fans have theorised that Dumbledore’s sister, Ariana, was an Obscurial. Ariana died before the end of the 19th century, meaning she was already dead before the events of Fantastic Beasts – and Grindelwald would know all about the immense power of Obscurials and potentially want to harness one.
If you’re ~sceptical~ because Ariana was older than 10 when she died, read how Aberforth described her power to Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Deathly Hallows: “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.”
3. The Magical Congress of the USA has the death penalty.
Much like their Muggle (sorry, No-Maj) counterparts, MACUSA has the death penalty, whereas the British Ministry doesn’t. We just send people to Azkaban, or to the Dementors to get their souls sucked out. But even then they’re not ~technically~ dead.
The remarkable thing is MACUSA’s method of capital punishment: We see Newt and Tina sentenced to death for allegedly causing the death of a No-Maj, and they’re sent to a chamber containing a chair reminiscent of the electric chair – although this is the wizarding world, so electricity isn’t allowed. Instead, criminals sit in the chair and are lowered into some kind of death potion, which is swirling with memories that have been extracted from their brains, so they can literally watch their life flash before their eyes. Dark.
4. The American wizarding community has some “backwards” laws when it comes to relationships with No-Majs.
From what we’ve been told before, in Britain wizards and Muggles live amongst each other happily and are allowed to interact, become friends, and even get married – but in America, none of that is permitted. It’s illegal for American wizards to marry No-Majs, and they’re not even allowed to talk to them. Oh, and they get the whole death penalty thing for breaking the Statute of Secrecy.
Which doesn’t bode well for Queenie and Jacob. If he even remembers her. Which he better.
5. Grindelwald is a much more low-key villain than Voldemort.
The film overall was a lot more subtly creepy than anything in the Harry Potter series, and that’s reflected in its villain. Grindelwald is more than happy to hide in the shadows (or disguise himself as another person – I told you there would be spoilers), while Voldemort only hid away from the world when he was forced to. Also, if the Ariana theory is correct, Grindelwald has waited almost 30 years to find and capture an Obscurus.
Of course, we’ll see more of Grindelwald in the movie’s sequels, and, according to a statement from Warner Bros., “Newt and our other heroes have to decide on their allegiances.” Damnnn.
Side note: The name Grindelwald chose to use while he was in disguise – Percival Graves – is also the name of Dumbledore’s father, who was sent to Azkaban for attacking Muggles. Coincidence? No! This is J.K. Rowling and nothing is a coincidence!
6. But he’s been captured…for now.
At the end of the movie, we see Grindelwald being led off, I assume, to prison. So we know he’s in captivity for now, but with four more movies in the works, and the story ending with Grindelwald’s defeat by Dumbledore in 1945, we know he’ll break free eventually.
But how? And how will Newt and the gang be involved in the rest of the movies? And when is Dumbledore going to appear? Will we find out more about Ilvermorny? Who is Leda Lestrange? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS.
7. And, finally, Nifflers are the cutest damn creatures on the planet and I want one.