Leta Lestrange was a standout character in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, but I wish her path had been different.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Not even Swooping Evil venom will be able to save you from these spoilers!
From the search for Credence, to the introduction of hot Dumbledore, to the mysteries surrounding Leta Lestrange and her brother Yusuf Kama, to the continuation of the stories of the core four, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald had a lot to accomplish. With that magnitude of threads to weave and so many new and returning characters and stories to service, it would be impossible to get as much of everything as we wanted to see.
Luckily, with things like Nagini, the Ministries, blood oaths, etc., we can at least hope and assume that we’ll get to learn more in future Fantastic Beasts movies. With three films left in the series, there’s still plenty of time for these stories to grow.
Unfortunately, due to an untimely heroic death at the hands of Grindelwald, this will not be the case for one of the most fascinating characters we met in Crimes of Grindelwald. Leta Lestrange.
Leta Lestrange was introduced in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as a figure from Newt’s past. We learned that he loved/s her, and assumed that Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts as a result of covering for her played a role in the current fractured status of their relationship.
Other than that, all we could gauge about her character was what we know about her family, which isn’t exactly a long list of positive attributes. Many fans assumed she would play a villainous role in the series.
In Crimes of Grindelwald, we actually got to meet Leta Lestrange, and interestingly, we didn’t get the villain fans were expecting. She obviously had an affinity for Newt and was engaged to his brother Theseus, who was firmly on the good side of things. She was even working alongside him at the Ministry of Magic, trying to take Grindelwald down.
There was so much mystery surrounding her. What really happened at Hogwarts with Newt? How did she come to be with eventual Ministry of Magic employee Theseus? What was her role in the fight against Grindelwald? How did she compare to the Lestranges we know from the Harry Potter series? There was a movie full of potential surrounding Leta alone!
Unfortunately, this potential was completely wasted. Leta’s story ended up simply being a red herring in the hunt for Credence’s ancestry with some weird stuff thrown in about her brother Yusuf Kama, and she sacrificed herself for the Scamanders before we really got to know her at all.
In Crimes of Grindelwald, Leta Lestrange only seemed to exhibit one character trait: Haunted. Everything she said and did was colored by the ghosts of her past (credit: Rita Skeeter). While we did finally learn why she was so plagued with guilt and uncertainty, we never got to explore any of the other fascinating aspects of her character and her history.
Even most of what we got to see of Leta’s time at Hogwarts was painted with the same, tortured brush. We see hints of light when she was with Newt, and she even makes reference to when they used to have fun together, but this side of her never gets to shine in Crimes of Grindelwald.
The fact that Leta is with Theseus when she clearly has feelings for Newt is not something that should be ignored! That’s an intriguing storyline that’s begging to be explored. Especially since it’s obvious that there are still some untapped feelings between Newt and Leta.
Even though Crimes of Grindelwald continued to push Newt’s relationship with Tina forward, his chemistry with Leta was magnitudes more fascinating. Tina remains flat while Leta had me captivated, and I’m not sure I’ll ever come around to shipping Newt with Tina now.
Leta would’ve also been a great lens through which to explore the Scamanders’ brotherhood, which is another interesting relationship from Crimes of Grindelwald that remains mysterious. What will likely end up happening in the Fantastic Beasts series is that Leta’s death will serve as a binding force between the brothers, but it would have been way more interesting to see them work through their barriers with her still in the equation. As it played out, they got an overly easy path to their reunion.
Leta sacrificing herself to save the Scamander brothers from Grindelwald definitely served to subvert any negative expectations we may have had about the pure blood Lestrange lineage, but this would’ve been more effectively accomplished if she had lived longer. As it stands now, it seems like her sacrifice was just as driven by her inner turmoil as her desire to effect change and save her loved ones.
Had we been able to see Leta as an intelligent, powerful pure blood witch who got to overcome the guilt of her past and then give up everything for a cause she believed in and people she cared for, that would’ve added to a greater message from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. The world isn’t separated into good people and death eaters. People aren’t always who you expect them to be. It also would’ve given further credence (not Credence) to the fact that Slytherins aren’t all evil!
At the end of the day, the story will go on and any voids left by Leta will likely be filled by other characters and plots. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Crimes of Grindelwald introduced an amazing character with great potential and killed her off way too early. Unfortunately, now we can only hope that we’ll continue to see Leta in flashback sequences in future Fantastic Beasts movies.