(Huge spoilers here for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” below. You have been warned.)
So here you are. You’ve experienced all the craziness that “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” had in store. And you’re totally confused by all of it because, well, it’s a whole lot of information to absorb.
But it is what it is, and what it is can be really tough to digest — especially if you aren’t steeped in “Harry Potter” lore. And even if you are a lifelong Potterhead it might take a minute for all of it to sink in because of how much lore this new “Fantastic Beasts” movie is dropping on us.
So regardless of what level of “Harry Potter” fandom you’re on, we’re here to help you by distilling down the major revelations in a way that’s perhaps easier to understand than it was in the movie. So let’s get to it.
So, obviously, the bulk of the twists and turns in “The Crimes of Grindelwald” largely revolve around Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), the Obscurial from the first movie who we all thought was dead but who actually was not. Don’t get too hung up on his survival, because it’s not explained how he made it out.
So at this point Credence is on a mission to find out who his birth family was. You’ll recall that Credence was adopted when he was very young, and that his adopted mom referred to his real mom as “unnatural.” That term is almost certainly just referring to his mother’s magical abilities — Credence became an Obscurial because his adopted mother hated magic and tried to suppress his use of magic as he was growing up.
Throughout the movie people speculate that Credence is actually Corvus Lestrange, the long lost son Corvus Sr. and brother of Leta (Zoe Kravitz). A mysterious man named Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) is chasing after Credence on exactly that assumption — Yusuf is angry that Corvus Sr. bewitched his mother Laurena and essentially stole her, and wants to get back at him by killing the person he loved the most: Corvus Jr.
The truth about Credence’s identity is complicated, because of a weird story that Leta tells everybody. When she was a kid, the Lestrange family was on a ship and baby Corvus wouldn’t stop crying during a big storm. So Leta took baby Corvus out of his crib, carried him across the hall to another cabin and swapped him for another baby — one who was sleeping soundly.
Moments later, while Leta was still holding this other baby, the ship began to sink, and everyone went for the lifeboats. So the Lestranges took this other anonymous baby with this, leaving Corvus with another family. While the Lestranges survived, the other family’s lifeboat capsized, apparently killing baby Corvus.
Credence is that other unnamed baby. So for a time he definitely was Corvus Lestrange, even though he actually was not.
At some point after that, this young Credence was given up or lost by the Lestranges — it’s still not clear why he ended up being adopted by the woman from the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie. That’s a mystery that presumably JK Rowling is holding back for a future movie.
At the end of the movie, once Credence joins up with Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), Grindelwald tells him that his true name is Aurelius Dumbledore. And that Credence’s brother has been trying to stop him. The implication being that said brother is Albus Dumbledore — the Dumbledore we know from all the “Harry Potter” movies and the only other Dumbledore in this movie.
This is a whole can of worms, of course. Aurelius Dumbledore is a totally new name that we’ve never heard before, and certainly Dumbledore had never mentioned a dead brother. In fact, when the opportunity to mention a dead brother came up he specifically referenced his dead sister Ariana. So it’s entirely possible that Dumbledore didn’t know that Aurelius existed — or that Grindelwald is just making this up.
Some big new mysteries that come up because of this revelation, assuming it’s true. Let’s run through them real quick.
Who was Credence’s mother? Dumbledore’s mother, Kendra, died in 1899. Which would mean that Credence would have to be at least 28 in “Crimes of Grindelwald.” While Credence’s age in the movies hasn’t been established, it seems like a stretch that he would be that old. Ezra Miller is only 26, and he said in an interview back in 2016 that Credence was 18 in the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie. Which would make him way too young to be Kendra Dumbledore’s son.
Percival Dumbledore is still in play as the father, however. Percival was locked in Azkaban in 1890 for attacking some muggles who were harassing his daughter Ariana, and we know nothing about his life after he was locked up — leaving plenty of room for whatever retcons JK Rowling wants to do with him. So if Aurelius is actually Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Percival would almost certainly need to have fathered him. But with who? It’s really impossible to guess. But if Grindelwald knows Credence’s identity, then the mother may be someone he knows.
The other big question is who was baby Credence traveling with when young Leta absconded with him — the credits list her as his aunt, which I’m a bit skeptical of since it wasn’t established in the actual film and Rowling is under no obligation to stick with that.
Lastly, we still don’t know how or why Credence ended up being adopted. Whatever the circumstances were, they led most everybody to believe he was dead.
So the short version: Leta Lestrange swapped her baby brother Corvus for a baby supposedly named Aurelius Dumbledore, who was later by some means separated from the Lestrange family and ended up becoming Credence Barebone.
Someday this will all make sense, presumably.