Fantastic Beasts may share a universe with Harry Potter, but has the prequel series held up the original series’s worldwide phenomenon? Unfortunately, as of its first two films and box office numbers, the answer may not be in the prequel’s favor.
Although the first film found luck in introducing Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts does not hold the same intricate character dynamics essential to Harry’s time at Hogwarts. Nor does it have the same wealth of storylines.
The Harry Potter series benefits as books and movies, allowing two different outlets to tell the story. Although the films did not have the time and space to adapt everything from the books, both versions flourished in telling Harry’s story as a young wizard transforming into an angsty teenager and young adult with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Harry and Voldemort’s connection is understood immediately, with Voldemort’s failure to kill Harry as a baby. The significance of that failure would be one of the essential factors in their dynamic as it spans years of hatred and a Horcrux link.
Without the series of novels, Fantastic Beasts relies primarily on whatever it can fit into the films and any information the Harry Potter series may have already revealed about the set of characters introduced.
Such as Newt Scamander’s textbook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” used at Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore’s role as Hogwarts Headmaster and leader of the Order of the Phoenix, among other things, and Gellert Grindelwald’s eventual fate of being a prisoner, and later killed by Lord Voldemort.
In Fantastic Beasts, the primary connection is between Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore, a dynamic that is interesting to explore given what the Harry Potter series revealed about their history.
The spinoff has introduced its set of main characters, but it lacks the central heart that came from spending years within the corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a solid start to the series, but its sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, struggled in its storytelling. Nevertheless, the movie strove forward with Grindelwald’s uprising, revealing the origins of Nagini, teasing the plot twist involving Credence, and bringing in Albus Dumbledore.
But, does Fantastic Beasts have the potential to hold up to Harry Potter in the future? J.K. Rowling stated that there are meant to be five films in total, likely building up to the war between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald.
Suppose Fantastic Beasts can find its focus, starting with the third installment, The Secrets of Dumbledore. Then, perhaps the series can head in a direction similar to the excitement fans felt toward the finale of the Harry Potter franchise.