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The newest entry into the Wizarding World franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, has polarized Potterheads all over the world. I've seen many fans of the franchise say they absolutely loved the film and other longtime fans say they were disappointed with the movie.
Personally, I liked it, but I can definitely understand both sides of the debate. While I enjoyed the film, I honestly think anyone who says the film is flawless is kidding themselves.
One of the biggest problems with the film that Harry Potter fans have been talking about non-stop is the fact that it appears to be going against the canon set up by J.K. Rowling in her original Harry Potter novels.
Much like the Star Wars prequels, this film is beginning to poke holes in the original Harry Potter series. And the biggest, most glaring hole in this film is the appearance of a certain Professor Minerva McGonagall.
When I first saw her in the film, I didn't really think twice about it. But right when the credits began rolling, I went on my phone and looked up McGonagall's birth year, and it turns out she was born in 1935, which is eight years AFTER this film took place.
So what gives? Why is McGonagall a teacher at Hogwarts before she was even born? My first justification was that it was just a relative of hers, but that wouldn't make sense, as she is a Half-blood who received the name, McGonagall, from her Muggle father.
And there have been multiple people online trying to justify her appearance by saying that she used a Time-Turner to go back to 1927. But my response to that is – why? Why would a Hogwarts professor travel back in time just to be a Hogwarts professor?
I don't write about theories as much as I used to, but I'm still very interested in film theories, and the SuperCarlinBrothers came up with a theory that suggested she went back in time to 1927 to help Dumbledore in the fight against Grindelwald.
For a while, I was pretty invested in the theory, but as a natural skeptic, I quickly pulled the theory apart. Because in the film, we don't just see Professor McGonagall in 1927, which is when the movie takes place.
We also see McGonagall in a flashback to when Leta Lestrange was a student. Given that Leta was born between 1896 and 1897, that means she attended Hogwarts from around 1907 to 1914. McGonagall began her career when she was 21, and given how old Leta was in the flashback, McGonagall would have to have been born around 1890 or before that.
And if McGonagall was born in 1890, that means she would have been over 100 years old during the Potter books, and she would be 130 years old during the events of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I get that witches and wizards have longer lifespans than Muggles, but I feel like McGonagall should be in a retirement home at that point.
So, this is very clearly a mistake. And while I love fan theories, no theory is gonna justify her appearance in the film. McGonagall would have no reason to use a Time-Turner to travel back in time to the early 1900s to be a teacher at Hogwarts.
While I have a MASSIVE amount of respect for Rowling for creating such a huge part of my childhood, I still don't quite get how she can approve the idea of McGonagall being alive in Cursed Child, which takes place in 2020, and proceed to put McGonagall as a teacher in The Crimes of Grindelwald, which takes place in the early 1900s.
From the looks of it, it appears that these Fantastic Beasts films are retconning Harry Potter. In my review of the film, I expressed hope that McGonagall was just a relative and I prayed that Harry Potter wouldn't be getting retconned. But since it can't be a relative, it's apparent that Harry Potter is being retconned.
Now, I know this is Rowling's franchise and she can do whatever she wants with it, but when this Fantastic Beasts franchise ends, I genuinely hope she stops after that.
We have the Potter books, the films, the anthology books, the Fantastic Beasts series, Cursed Child — at this point, we have to ask how much more can the Wizarding World franchise be milked? And given the poor critical reception of The Crimes of Grindelwald, how can we get this franchise back on track?
Let's start with one of the problems I had with the film: fan service. This movie had a ton of moments that were clearly only included to wink at fans of the novels.
McGonagall could have been omitted from the film and there would be no difference. But she's only name-dropped so that us fans can have an "ah-ha!" moment. And the inclusion of Nicolas Flamel in this film was also useless.
Don't get me wrong: I like these little in-jokes. But to me, they need to have some PURPOSE in the film besides winking at the invisible audience. McGonagall's presence in The Crimes of Grindelwald was only included as a pointless nod to the originals, and it has poked a gaping hole in the franchise.
If Rowling wants to improve these films, she's gonna need to slow down. Another problem I had with The Crimes of Grindelwald was the large amount of subplots, especially the Credence-Leta subplot, which seemed incredibly unnecessary and distant from the rest of the film.
And finally, I think she just needs to leave Harry Potter alone. We already know these Fantastic Beasts films take place in the Wizarding World. We don't need to see McGonagall or Flamel as a reminder of that.
The further away these Fantastic Beasts films stay from the Harry Potter books, the more likely we are to not have another plot hole or retcon.
Because at the end of the day, J.K. Rowing doesn't need more Harry Potter. She became a billionaire selling these books, so she clearly doesn't need the money. And she has also written another novels, such as The Cuckoo's Calling and the Cormoran Strike series.
I know she's not reading this. But I just want to say, once Fantastic Beasts 5 comes out a few years from now, I want this Wizarding World to remain untouched. We've had some pretty good additions and a few subpar ones since the original Potter books. But I think it will then be time to put this franchise to bed.
That being said, I've gotta rewatch this movie.
Wow. The division between fans over The Crimes of Grindelwald is pretty similar to the division over Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's kind of interesting how the Harry Potter fans are disagreeing with each other over the film while being respectful of each other's opinions.
Learn, Star Wars fans. Learn.