Y’all, there’s a lot that happens in Fantastic Beasts that we need to talk about. There are quite a few ~big moments~ that we need to discuss now in the months and years ahead. Let’s get started

J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts herself, and despite it being her first time writing a movie, the witch’s work doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s bound to get the fandom excited about all things Harry Potter again.

Note: Be sure to check out our formal Fantastic Beasts review

‘Fantastic Beasts’ spoilers ahead!

Let’s recap and discuss five of the biggest Fantastic Beasts spoilers and shockers.

#1: Newt may’ve had romantic interests in a Lestrange

Leta Lestrange

Newt is somehow involved with a woman named Leta Lestrange. We and Queenie see a picture of her sitting in one of Newt’s workshops towards the end of the movie. As Queenie reminds Newt, the Lestrange family is… not the best family to get tied up with. But for whatever reason, Newt did, and the character is being played by actress Zoe Kravitz (Divergent).

The question is: How is he tied up with her? Is she a romantic interest? Are they good friends? Did the romance or the friendship go sour? Obviously something about it is bothering Newt, and I’m sure we’re going to get answers about it in future Fantastic Beasts films.

With the Lestrange family in the picture, there are now three iconic families from Harry Potter appearing in the Fantastic Beasts series: The Dumbledores, the Lestranges, and Grindelwald. Could Leta be on team Grindelwald in the long run? AHH.

For what it’s worth: A search of Harry Potter canon reveals no Leta in the Lestrange family tree. So this is a character Rowling has kept under wraps until now.

#2: Newt and Tina were sentenced to death

Fantastic Beasts Newt and Tina Dead

MACUSA is a pretty dark place. They have no problem sentencing witches and wizards to death for exposing the magical world to No-Majs (even though the exposure is quite easy to fix if you’ve got some potion and a Thunderbird who can make it rain).

The death room was really cool — it reminded me of something out of Divergent, with how sterile and simple the room was. Memories were extracted from one’s mind like they were being placed in a pensive, and these memories (happy ones, it seems) would be presented to you to draw you into death.

Still, a death sentence? It seems really harsh. It seems like a punishment that’ll eventually be tossed once Wizard/Muggle relations improve. We imagine Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob will be trying to fix that issue.

#3: The Obscurus — A Definition

Fantastic Beasts Obscurus

Rowling introduced an element of magic we hadn’t heard of before: The Obscurus.

What do we know about the Obscurus and the Obscurial? It was a bit difficult to follow in the movie because a lot of information was being thrown at us for the first time. Unlike a book, you can’t go back a page and re-read. Luckily, we have official information… thanks to a book.

According to an official Fantastic Beasts companion book that I found at Target, here’s the Obscurus definition: “during the witch hunts in centuries past, young witches and wizards sometimes tried to suppress their magic to avoid persecution. The unused energy created an unstable, uncontrollable, dark force inside the child. Like a parasite, it would drain the child’s power and ultimately their life force.”

The Obscurus can kill the young witch or wizard. It “consumes so much energy that the host child typically doesn’t live to be more than ten years old.”

As we see in the movie, Newt knows the Obscurials are out there, and unlike MACUSA, he knows one when he sees one. According to the aforementioned book, Newt “encountered one recently in Sudan, Africa. He found a young girl who had been shut away by her tribe because she showed signs of magic. The Obscurus was taking her over, depleting her strength, and killing her. Newt was able to separate the Obscurus from the child just before she died. He trapped it inside a shimmering black box and put it inside his case so he could study it. Newt insists that without the host child, this Obscurus is harmless.”

We’re not sure how it gets separated from their bodies, but we do know it’s possible. When the Obscurus is still with the host it can fly around and wreak havoc, as we saw several times in Beasts with Credence’s.

The Obscurus can be eliminated, but there’s still a question as to what happens to the host’s body. Sure, Credence looked like he died, but did he really?

Harry Potter Obscurus

The definition of Obscurus makes us think the magic may tie in to Ariana Dumbledore’s story in future Fantastic Beasts films, if J.K. Rowling decides to take us backwards for a bit to show us Albus and Grindelwald’s earlier days as friends. Remember, Ariana “was attacked by Muggle boys who saw her practising magic, which left her traumatised to the point of rendering her magical abilities uncontrollable.” Ariana could very well be Grindelwald’s first encounter with an Obscurus, which might lead the villain to find another — like the one within Credence.

In fact, there are a few parallels between Ariana and Credence: They were both thought to be squibs. Both killed their Mothers with an outburst of magic. Both were “defeated/killed” during a duel.

#4: Jacob’s mind got wiped despite being the coolest Muggle ever

fantastic-beasts-jacob-dan-fogler

This was so. Not. Fair. Jacob was the Harry/Ron/Hermione of Fantastic Beasts — he was the kid who was discovering the Wizarding World for the first time. It was such a blast watching him experience the magic.

Given his tight relationship with his new wizard friends, you would’ve thought Newt, Tina, and Queenie would’ve spared him from having to lose so many new things that he loved. In fairness, they did hook him up with what he needed to get a loan for a bakery. What’s more, post-memory loss, Jacob still recognizes Queenie when she enters his bakery. And many of his baked goods were inspired by beasts. Obviously Jacob is going to somehow get back in the mix with the other three, and it doesn’t look like his memory was completely wiped, so we can’t wait to see how that plays out.

Still, I’m sad that they did wipe his memory after all. He deserved a pass.

#5: Graves is Grindelwald

Johnny Depp Graves Grindelwald

This is the biggest shocker of the movie, and one that is sure to cause gasps in movie theaters around the world. Yes, Graves (Colin Farrell) is actually Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) under cover. It all makes sense in hindsight: At the beginning of the movie we saw headlines revealing that Grindelwald had gone missing, and later we found out that Graves had been over in Europe for a period of time. Meanwhile, Graves was in possession of a Deathly Hallows necklace and used it as a phone, like Death Eaters did with the Dark Mark.

We should note the parallels between this twist and the one in the first Potter book: Both stories found the arch enemy hiding in someone else’s body. Kinda cool, right?

But how did Grindelwald hold the Graves transformation for so long? Was he slurping down Polyjuice Potion for a really long time? Is he using some really advanced form of magic? Hopefully @JK_Rowling will answer this for us in the near future and has a good explanation, because Newt’s successful use of “Revelio” was way too convenient.

Graves Grindelwald

Fun fact: At least one test screening of Fantastic Beasts earlier this year did not include Depp’s reveal at the end of the movie. Attendees just saw Colin Farrell’s Graves saying the same lines Depp does. It makes sense that they would shoot it this way — they may not have had Depp on set the same day Farrell was filming.

Thanks to Brittany and Cullen for their help with this article.

Note: This article previously spelled Leta’s name “Leda,” but the script book confirms it’s Leta.

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!

What Disney can learn from the 2009 Chinese live-action ‘Mulan’

Here's what 'Hua Mulan' got right

4:30 pm EST, February 17, 2017

Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

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Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

Here are some things Hua Mulan got right that Disney would do well to learn from.

hua mulan decision

Bringing more realism to the legend

Hua Mulan follows a plot that is more loyal to the original legend of Mulan, which states that she was a warrior for the Chinese army for over a decade. In the film, she even becomes a General, and retires with the nation’s respect, even after her identity as a woman is revealed.

Seeing Mulan lead thousands of men in Hua Mulan is a rare and empowering experience. Her struggles as a woman in a position of power, and the various dilemmas that come with commanding such a large number of people, are what bring intensity and meaning to the story. Mulan itself explored the concept of honor and femininity as well, but we only got a very small glimpse at the power that the legendary Mulan is said to have actually wielded.

While Disney may not want to make a movie that ventures too far from a family friendly atmosphere by portraying a Mulan who goes to war too realistically (as in, showing her killing enemies), it would be great to see her rise in the ranks and revolutionize such a male-dominated space the way she is said to have done.

hua mulan warrior

Not shying away from the grit — but not making it too grim, either

Hua Mulan does an excellent job of skirting the line between grim tragedy and friendly comedy. With thousands of extras, the battle scenes are as breathtaking and inspiring as they are horrifying. There’s a scene where Mulan counts the dog tags of all the fallen soldiers, and a considerable amount of time is spent exploring her despair and responsibility as the army’s struggle becomes more desperate. The emotional rawness of the story creates a very real, very flawed, yet very lovable Mulan — and takes audiences on an exploration of heroism, perseverance, and honor.

Of course, we can’t expect Disney to go all out with blood and grit — they’re bound to bring out Mushu, after all — but Disney prides itself on epic battles and fantastic special effects, and they’ll want to serve us war scenes as breathtaking and realistic as possible.

However, we’re all tired of grittiness for grittiness’ sake. Despite the heaviness of the more emotional scenes of Hua Mulan, there is sweetness and humor. The friendships in the army, much like those of Disney’s version, can be laugh-out-loud funny, and the scenes of Mulan’s struggle to preserve her male appearance are equally fun to watch.

Related: Disney’s live action Mulan lands female director

After all, audiences won’t be going to see Mulan to see war and sadness — the animated version was fun and adventurous, and although it had somber moments, it still managed to keep things just lighthearted enough for us to not get too sad. With animation, that lightheartedness is an easier task; portraying war with real actors could prove a more difficult challenge.

Establishing more depth in the main relationship

In Hua Mulan, Mulan and Wentai’s relationship is beautiful, but it builds over a long period of time, and strengthens through their mutual respect as they both struggle to lead an army. Their love is based on that combination of trust built over time, and shared responsibility.

Shang and Mulan have what is possibly one of the best relationships Disney has ever come up with. Among the Disney ‘princesses,’ Mulan and Shang probably have the greatest chemistry and story of all, and scenes from the animated film continue to be shipping fuel. Presumably, they’ll want to replicate this relationship in the new live-action version.

However, the animated film was sadly limited to only a few glimpses of the developing relationship. It would be amazing if we could see more of the friendship between Shang and Mulan (as Ping) and how it becomes something more. It’s rare in a ‘princess’ movie to see romance begin with sincere friendship, and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the confusion regarding Mulan’s gender in both a funny and profound way.

Giving it a more realistic conclusion

There are some scenes that could do with a makeover, especially at the very end. Mulan’s final trick to kill Shan Yu — by dressing three soldiers in drag and having them attempt to distract him — is hilarious in the animation, but would come off as strange and unrealistic in a live-action movie, and perhaps even a little offensive.

Hua Mulan’s approach to defeating the enemy is a much more powerful one. Although it equals Mulan in stealth and cleverness, it involves realistic strategy and power dynamics, and finally involves her making a deal that saves China through negotiation, rather than war — and making a terribly painful personal sacrifice.

Disney has a penchant for epic final battle scenes, but that isn’t what happens in either Mulan or Hua Mulan. In both cases, it’s Mulan’s cleverness that saves the day. It would be great to see that cleverness translated into a realistic solution, in the same way it does in Hua Mulan.

It’s not like Disney hasn’t subverted its own canon, after all. In Maleficient, it isn’t the prince’s kiss that lifts the spell. Disney could certainly benefit from giving Mulan a more epic finale, and perhaps one that does her legendary character justice.

Immersing us in historically-accurate China

Besides perhaps The Jungle Book, we’ve yet to see a live-action adaptation that takes place in a non-European culture. In fact, this would be the first film to employ solely actors of color. What Disney decides to do here will be particularly interesting; since Aladdin will be getting its own adaptation soon, and Pocahontas could also follow in the live-action trend, the decisions taken here will likely set a precedent for what will be done with those films.

There were rumors earlier of Mulan having a white love interest, which now seem to be crushed, thankfully. We want to see a film with an entirely Asian cast — hopefully at least mostly Chinese — and get a chance to explore the scenery, sets and props of ancient China.

Although, it’s only fair to say that Hua Mulan also has its own white character — a Russian singer called Vitas, who inexplicably pops up now and again. That’s another tip for Disney: don’t just insert white guys into the story for no reason.

Hua Mulan’s shots of rural China are beautiful and unique, and it would be amazing to see what Disney can do if they choose to show much of what they did in animation, with real sets and locations. Hopefully, Disney gets a chance to actually film in China itself.

All this doesn’t go to say that we want a copy of Hua Mulan. Not at all. Hua Mulan is an excellent film in its own right, but it’s considerably more adult than Disney would ever dare make an adaptation. The realism of its wars and of the toll duty takes on Mulan and her companions is nothing like the fun, if occasionally emotional, adventure Disney took us on with Mulan.

Disney’s version is a movie to be excited about, and the additions the animated film made to the legend are what makes it a classic. It would be amazing to see Mushu, Shang, the ancestors, and maybe even the cricket, on screen, as well as the songs, of course! “Make a Man Out of You” with real actors will definitely be one of the biggest highlights.

So far, we know that Mulan’s director will be Niki Caro. Although she isn’t Chinese, a matter that raises a lot of questions about representation, it’s still encouraging to see a female director chosen — and if Caro’s powerful film Whale Rider is any indication, she’s rather good at telling empowering stories with female leads. Hopefully, the rest of the team can be filled with talented Chinese filmmakers that deserve to have a hand in rendering such a culturally significant story properly.

After all, Mulan is primarily a Chinese legend, and her story spans a history much longer than the 18 years since Disney’s animation came out.

In the meantime, go check out Hua Mulan, which is a fascinating film (although a considerably more adult one; you’ve been warned)!

What are you expecting from ‘Mulan’?

There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

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There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline is the ringmaster. She’s the typical Helicopter Parent trying as best she can to keep Monterey’s relationships and extracurricular activities together. Bringing her down is her ego and never-ending animosity toward a couple of characters, including her ex-husband’s new bae Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz, below). Together, Bonnie and Madeline’s new hubby Ed (Adam Scott) want to keep the peace between their two partners, but they’re the only two who seem capable of keeping tempers in check.

Meanwhile, Perry (Skarsgård) and Celeste (Kidman) have serious marriage issues that seem impossible to resolve. Of the leading ladies, Celeste seems to be the most level-headed despite her shitty husband. Then there’s Laura Dern’s Renata (below), who hates Madeline with all of her heart. Some of the best scenes are between these two ladies.

Not helping the Renata/Madeline relationship is the latter’s new friend Jane (Woodley). She’s just moved to town with her son Ziggy, who might’ve caused serious trouble on his first day of school.

It’s this event that initiates the show’s biggest mystery: A murder. Who did it? Who’s dead? The answer is not revealed in the first four episodes despite flash forward sequences in which we see an investigation taking place. As you continue to watch, it becomes increasingly clear that any of the characters could be be the victim or murderer. (This writer hasn’t read the book, so please don’t spoil me.)

Big Little Lies is the perfect show to cuddle up with on Sunday evenings for the next two months. While some have called this show corny, I find it to be a delight. I just have one suggestion for every viewer: Bring a glass of alcohol to the party. While screening the episodes, I very much enjoyed watching the drama unfold with a drink in hand.

The only problem? It’s just seven episodes long. Here’s hoping for more seasons or more adaptations of Moriarty’s books at HBO.

Big Little Lies premieres Sunday, February 19 on HBO.