Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Best New Characters

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduces a whole new slew of characters into the Harry Potter Universe. But which characters did we love the most?

One of the things I loved most about Fantastic Beasts is that they left behind the school settings and focused on characters who are adults. I am of the generation that literally grew up side by side with Harry, Ron and Hermoine. I was 15 when the fifth book came out and I was graduating high school when Deathly Hallows was released. And now that I am an adult in the big bad world, I want some witches and wizards of my own age to admire. Enter Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The new film also takes us out of the stiff-upper lip atmosphere of the UK and moves the setting to rough-and-tumble 1920s New York City. It is a wildly fun change of pace. New York landmarks like the Woolworth’s Building and the now-defunct City Hall Subway station make their own appearances. NYC is always it’s own character in the movies its a part of.

So besides New York City (and my favorite new beast, the Niffler), who were the new characters?

Image Courtesy of Vogue

Newt Scamander

Eddie Redmayne’s Newt was as lovable as a Hufflepuff could be. Kind-hearted, optimistic, and well-intentioned, he was everything Cedric Diggory could have been (sorry, too soon?)

Newt was not always a famed magizoologist. Long before he wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt was traveling the world in search of mystical creatures and magical animals. He has always had a love of magical creatures; in fact, his mother bred hippogriffs. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he managed to gain the respect of Albus Dumbledore, then only a professor. Unfortunately, Newt’s time there was cut short after an accident with Lita Lestrange, a magical beast and a student. Lita, descendant of a dark wizarding family, had an experiment that had gone awry. Newt took the blame, and consequently was expelled.

Newt now works for the Ministry of Magic in the Beasts department. His knowledge of fantastic beasts leads him all over the world with a case that holds many microcosms and biodomes. As are many who have a love of animals, Newt is kind, loyal, and compassionate towards all living creatures. Despite having caused quite a bit of trouble in New York City, he eventually saves the day.

KATHERINE WATERSTON as Tina in Warner Bros. Pictures’ fantasy adventure “FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.†
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Tina Goldstein

Tina is a thoroughly modern woman. She chooses to wear pants and chase a career. She is ready the break the glass ceiling with a flick of her wand, if only her bosses would let her.

Born Porpentina, Tina lives with her sister Queenie in a brownstone on West 24th Street. The girls were orphaned at a young age when their parents were killed by an outbreak of Dragon Pox. Tina is ambitious and not secretive about it. She often is seen trying to prove herself, whether it is interrupting a secret MACUSA meeting, or a public Magical Congress..

Once upon a time, Tina was an Auror with MACUSA. But after seeing Credence Barebone being beaten by his adopted mother Mary Lou, she used magic to save the boy. In the process, she revealed the existence magic into the No-Maj world. Breaking secrecy of the magical world is a major offensive. As punishment, Tina was demoted to the office of Wand Permits. She often leaves the office to follow the movements of the Mary Lou Barebone and the New Salemers, a church group hellbent on the revelation and destruction of witches and wizards.

Tina is level-headed, practical, and harbors some deep feelings for Newt Scamander.

Image via Warner Bros.

Queenie Goldstein

Queenie is the yin the Tina’s yang. The two sisters are a complementary pair. Queenie’s femininity and beauty never gets in the way of her intellect and good nature.

Queenie is a Legimens, which means she has the ability to read the minds of people around her. How much control she has over her powers is up to debate. Sometimes she can control it, but when someone is truly vulnerable and hurting, she seems unable to stop hearing their thoughts. Her abilities means she’s also susceptible to the thoughts men have when they are around her. The most adapt description of Queenie’s appearance is the word “bombshell.” She develops a soft-spot for Jacob Kowalski, who not only finds her attractive but also is interested in her as a person as opposed to a sex object.

Queenie works in the MACUSA in some sort of lowly position. Unlike her sister, Queenie has no ambitions to be a career girl. Her Legilimency seems to be kept a secret from her co-workers at MACUSA. She uses her powers to her advantage, but she doesn’t seem to advertise that she has this special ability. If she did, who knows how the MACUSA would try and use her. For now, Queenie seems content to stay in her brownstone and make hot cocoa with Tina.

Image via Warner Bros.

Jacob Kowalski

The Everyman. The Average Joe. The No-Maj who is also the perfect audience surrogate. If we were a character in this world,  we would all be Jacob Kowalski. Amazed and in awe of the world he’s inadvertently entered, he proves himself as an asset to the group. Jacob is the Donna to Newt Scamander’s Doctor. The Pancho to Newt’s Don Quixote. At heart, Jacob is just a guy from the Lower East Side trying to make some pastries.

Jacob Kowalski was born in 1900 and fought in World War 1. Perhaps he spent too much time in the trenches, because when he tries to get a loan from the Steen National Bank he has nothing to offer as collateral. Jacob is living in a tenement apartment, a lone man with a dream of making pastries like his grandmother used to. To make ends meet, Jacob works at a local cannery. He is kind-hearted and good-spirited. His friendship and willingness for adventure is part of his appeal to Newt Scamander. Time and again, Jacob proves himself as a good friend and a worthy adversary to any who might harm his new friends. Jacob also states that he has a certain lack of imagination, though his pastry designs may prove otherwise.

Image via Warner Bros.

Gnarlack

An American Gangster Goblin, Gnarlack is a money-maker at heart. He likes anything he can sell, including what’s inside Newt’s “case of monsters.” Gnarlack might not be the most savory of characters, but he adds a great deal to the dark and dirty truths about doing business in the Big Apple.

Gnarlack owns a magical speakeasy in Harlem called The Blind Pig. The Blind Pig plays lives jazz music and serves gigglewater. The waiters are house elves (what would Hermione say?) Played by Ron Perlman, he’s a quick cameo that’s worth the screen time. While Gnarlack was willing to be a point of contact for Tina during her time as an Auror, his tune changes when Newt refuses to give him a Pickett the bowtruckle. Ever the business man, Gnarlack decides that the price on Newt’s head is worth more than a tiny plant creature who can pick locks.

Located in New York’s West Village, The Blind Pig itself is a beautiful nod to the Prohibition era. From the poster to the interior to the name itself, this magical speakeasy could have been pulled straight from the Roaring Twenties.

Gnarlack carries a wand, an odd habit for a goblin. What he does with his wand is unclear, as goblins are not permitted to carry wands by order of MACUSA.

Image via Warner Brothers Pictures

Seraphina Piquery

The current President of Magical Congress of the United States of America, Madam President Seraphina Piquery rules with intellect, grace, and gravitas. She is political in her decision-making, never wavering from her instincts. This quality can make her character a formidable enemy or a trusted ally.

Seraphina was born in Savannah, Georgia around the turn of the century. She is one of the few who can say that she was chosen by all four houses at her sorting ceremony for Ilvermorny’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Her choice was the Horned Serpent, but I sense a bit of the Wampus in her.

In Fantastic Beasts, she’s been ruling as the President for a few years. Her relationship with Percival Graves and her inability to see him for what he is really for could have been her downfall. She is strict and principled, never wavering from the law. Constantly fighting to keep the wizarding world safe, her tenure is marked by her determination to keep the secrecy of the wizarding world and to keep no contact with the No-Maj world. The Mada President even goes so far to have Jacob Kowalsi obliviated, despite him proving himself to be a worthy ally to the magical world.

Image via Warner Bros.

Modesty Barebone

Modesty Barebone is the character I am most curious about. She is the adopted daughter of Mary Lou Barebone. She’s the youngest of the three children, and she has spent most of her time with the Barebones family watching her brother Credence take a beating from Mary Lou. Such a childhood would explain why she seems to be so wildly secretive.

Originally from the Bronx, she was once a part of a large family. She spoke to Credence often of her nine brothers and sisters. Like Credence, she was probably a part of a wizarding family. She is able to read into people’s psyches, but she doesn’t advertise the fact. After an Obscura attack, she manages to find her way back to her old tenement. Family and love clearly are important to Modesty.

Modesty is rebellious in nature. She is seen throwing away the New Salemers pamphlets and keeping a secret wand under her bed. To keep on Mary Lou’s good side, Modesty sings anti-witch songs, which is disturbing to say the least. Because she is a red herring and because she is present for several Obscura attacks, I am curious to see if Modesty will make it into the sequels of Fantastic Beasts. We see so little of her in the films, but there is clearly so much of her to get to know.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out in theatres now. Fly, don’t walk, to see this film!