“Fantastic Beasts” is going to be a big leap of faith for the “Harry Potter” franchise. The spinoff film, which marks J.K. Rowling‘s first foray into screenwriting, will take fans far beyond Harry’s adventures in Hogwarts to 1920s New York, with a brand new set of characters and creatures. Beyond a few callbacks, “Fantastic Beasts” will jump into a side of the Potterverse that is uncharted territory. With that said, here’s what we know about what’s in store.
According to Rowling, “Fantastic Beasts” will show the first major collision between the magical and mundane worlds in the Potter timeline. Newt Scamander, the man who would go on to write one of the most-used textbooks at Hogwarts, will be challenged to quell an uprising that threatens to destroy the natural order of both the wizarding and human worlds.
As one might expect, the wizarding world that Harry enters in 1990s England will be far different than the one Newt enters in 1920s New York. There’s heavy segregation between wizards and No-Maj (American muggles), with wizards forbidden by the Magical Congress of the USA (MACUSA) to marry No-Maj and discouraged to interact with them beyond what is absolutely necessary. This is a major culture shock for Newt, who is used to a more relaxed attitude towards non-magic folk across the Atlantic.
Colin Farrell will play Percival Graves, who is the head of security at MACUSA and the most enigmatic figure in “Fantastic Beasts.” It is his job to make sure magic never breaches into the No-Maj world, and he is very distrustful of those who are not of his kind. “His story runs parallel to that of the others,” explained Farrell at a fan event. “But it is very separate and far to the left.”
A major reason why wizards are so skittish about the No-Maj is the New Salem Philanthropic Society (NSPS), a group trying to expose and eradicate wizards throughout the country. According to Rowling’s history of Magical America on Pottermore, this hatred of wizards was first planted by exiles from the wizarding community in colonial times as revenge for being cast out.
A major target of NSPS’ activism is Senator Henry Shaw, Jr. (Josh Cowdry) and his father, a major N.Y. newspaper magnate (Jon Voight). The NSPS want the Shaws to use their power to support their anti-magic policies, and the family ends up at the center of the Wizard/No-Maj conflict that arises after Newt’s arrival.
So what elements of the Potterverse that we already know about will show up in “Fantastic Beasts”? Rowling promises that the film will reveal more about the pasts of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald and his former friend, Albus Dumbledore, who was a Transfiguration Professor at Hogwarts in the 1920s. While interrogating Newt in one scene shown in the trailers, Percival mentions that Dumbledore rallied to Newt’s defense after he accidentally endangered a muggle’s life with a magical creature. Despite Albus’ attempts, Newt was expelled from Hogwarts.
We can also expect that “Fantastic Beasts” will be a mainstay in Warner Bros.’ release schedule moving forward. At a fan event in London, Rowling revealed that Newt will become the center of a brand new series of Potter tales. “