12:30 pm EDT, April 11, 2016

Overanalyzing the magical, wonderful, but not canon ‘Fantastic Beasts’ trailer

A new trailer for Fantastic Beasts debuted on Sunday, and it was a total fandom pleaser.

Magical spells? Check. Magical contraptions? Check. Apparition? Check. Hedwig’s Theme? Check. The words “Hogwarts” and “Dumbledore” uttered out loud for the first time in a movie since 2011? Check check. It’s all there, it’s all beautiful, and there are quite a few interesting moments in the trailer to talk about. Let’s get to it!

Finally, a look at a couple beasts

At first we only see a close up of Newt’s suitcase and a beast trying to worm its way out. Remember, this suitcase holds all of the creatures Newt is studying. It reminds us of Hermione’s magical bag in the Harry Potter series. Both of them are way larger on the inside.

Later we get proper looks at two beasts, which Pottermore confirms are a Niffler and a Swooping Evil.

Nifflers were referenced in the Harry Potter books, but a Swooping Evil is an entirely new creature. “Newt throws a mysterious ball into the air and an immaculate, blue bird-like creature emerges from it, like a butterfly from a cocoon,” says Pottermore. This reminds me of a Pokéball… except that the creature is the Pokéball.

Also remember: A few of Newt’s beasts will be escaping while the wizard is on his visit to New York. This accident is sure to set off a lot of drama in the movie because they’ll be wreaking havoc in the Big Apple, and potentially violating the International Confederation of Wizards’ Statute of Secrecy.

There are several scenes in this trailer that depict trouble afoot. For example, towards the end we see Newt running from wizards who are firing spells at him. At the end of the trailer Graves warns that one particular beast is more dangerous than any human.

‘Hogwarts!’ ‘Dumbledore!’ Oh my G— Wait, is this canon?

“There’s much more to you than meets the eye,” says an off-camera voice to Newt. “Kicked out of Hogwarts for endangering a human life with a beast. Yet one of your teachers argued against your expulsion. I wonder, what makes Dumbledore so fond of you, Mr. Scamander.”

This is the part in the trailer where I lost my shit. Oh my Dumbledore, someone uttered the words “Hogwarts” and “Dumbledore” in a new Wizarding World movie! We weren’t expecting to experience this so soon. My guess is the person speaking is Graves, an auror played by Colin Farrell who pops up a couple of times later in the trailer.

But here’s the thing about what Graves says: It doesn’t align with canon. According to J.K. Rowling’s own Fantastic Beasts book published in 2001, Newt Scamander graduated successfully from Hogwarts. There was no expulsion.

Thanks to Fernando for a photo of Newt’s bio in the Fantastic Beasts book, which clearly states he graduated:


So what’s happened? My theory: Rowling is changing parts of Newt’s story in order to tell a better tale in the movie. She implied on Monday morning that the expulsion wasn’t un-done by Dumbledore (see below), so I don’t think she’s going to try to connect the Hogwarts part of the bio seen above with the movie. Scholastic actually announced in February that they’ll be publishing an updated version of the Fantastic Beasts book in 2017, and I’m guessing one big change will be his bio.

This also explains why the June 2016 re-release of the Hogwarts library books — now called the “Hogwarts Classics” — only includes Beedle the Bard and Quidditch Through the Ages. This set used to include Fantastic Beasts as well. I’m guessing they don’t want to sell the old version of the book so close to the film’s release, so as to not confuse readers with outdated information. They’ll also use this opportunity to add new beasts, like the Swooping Evil, to the book.

On Twitter, Mallory pointed out to me how weird/funny it is for Hogwarts to use a textbook by a student who was expelled. I agree with this, but Graves says in the trailer that Dumbledore was fond of him. Maybe the Hogwarts Headmaster made an executive decision to include it in the school’s curriculum once he was promoted? That’s how Rowling can spin it whenever she addresses it. And let’s be real: She’s going to have to address this. It’s extremely unlike her to not stick with canon.

There are other questions about this twist too: Why wasn’t Newt’s wand snapped in two, as is customary at Hogwarts when a student is expelled (We’ve seen him holding a wand in previous promotional material. Also, he wouldn’t be the first to not have his wand snapped — Hagrid got to keep his too.)? And why did J.K. Rowling decide to make him an expelled student anyway? I have a few theories about the latter that I’ll write about at a later time.

I’d like to add here that I’m totally cool with J.K. Rowling changing some of the historical canon in order to fit the movie. It’d be one thing if she was changing something set during the Harry Potter story, but this little factoid about Newt’s school years was unknown to most fans unless they read Newt’s bio in the Fantastic Beasts book. Is it fascinating that she’s decided to change canon? Yes. Should it upset anyone? No.

Dumbledore’s Hogwarts career


Graves’ remarks to Newt also confirm that Dumbledore was teaching at Hogwarts while Newt was a student there. According to canon, Newt went to Hogwarts from 1908 to 1915, though JKR may be revising this timeframe, because an expulsion suggests he didn’t make it through all seven years. At any rate, this would mean that Dumbledore was teaching at the school during at least a few of these years.

Prior to this trailer all we knew about Professor Dumbledore’s teaching career was that he started at Hogwarts before 1938, but after his fight with Grindelwald that left Ariana Dumbledore dead in the summer of 1899. The early 1900s are wide open according to canon, so it’s very easy for J.K. Rowling to set Dumbledore’s teaching career starting around 1908, when Newt first attended Hogwarts. Remember though, this is according to pre-existing canon. Like the new expulsion twist, the timeline may be shifting a bit to tell a better story in the movie. Time will tell if Jo changes Newt’s Hogwarts years for the sake of the film, but as things stand right now there doesn’t appear to be a reason for changing them.

The mere reference to Dumbledore is certainly an exciting tease. He clearly has a relationship with Newt. Will we be seeing him in this movie? Or the next one? Surely Dumbledore will want to commend Newt in a face-to-face meeting for (eventually) saving the day. 10 points to Hufflepuff!

‘Muggle Worthy’

Newt’s suitcase has the ability to adjust its insides to look like it’s just any old suitcase. This is important, because he can’t let the Muggles see its true purpose! When he opens it up to show a No-Maj its contents at customs, we see he’s packed a map of New York City, binoculars, some clothes, and… OH YEAH, A HUFFLEPUFF SCARF! We’re glad to see he’s bringing his Hufflepuff pride to the United States.


Front page news


This newspaper’s front page hints at plot lines in the film, like Newt’s beasts running wild and the risk the creatures pose to revealing the existence of Wizards to No-Majs. There’s also this interesting, smaller headline on the front of the newspaper: “President Seraphina Picquery to address fearful American Wizarding Community.” It sounds like Newt’s accident has left wizards and witches far outside New York fearful about their secret being revealed to the No-Majs.

Who is Shaw?


Shaw looks like someone running for elected No-Maj office. Possibly President of the United States. My guess is he’s not cool with Newt’s beasts running wild in New York and will be campaigning hard against the presence of Wizards and Witches living in the United States.

Magic in the air

This was one of those scenes that truly made us feel like we were back in the world of Harry Potter. There’s magic happening here, and dammit, we’ve missed seeing the little things like this.

Jacob, a Muggle character with a lead role in Fantastic Beasts depicted above, is equally fascinated by witnessing magic in this movie. He is me watching this trailer for the first time.

I’d like to apparate to the next trailer now, please.

Newt, show me what else you’ve got.

Fantastic Beasts opens this November.

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