Let's be real: it would be profoundly disappointing if there weren't a ton of brand new, never-before-seen magical creatures in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Already, the trailers for the new Harry Potter prequel are full of CGI beasts and furry little creatures that could only exist in the magical world. There are, however, a few main creatures that Newt Scamander seems particularly fond of. One of which, Frank (notably, the one of the only creatures Newt has named), seems to be of unknown species. Harry Potter fans will probably be quick to assume that Frank, a bird-like creature is a Hippogriff, like Buckbeak, but they would be wrong. So, just what kind of creature is Frank in Fantastic Beasts ?
According to Pottermore and other reports, Fantastic Beasts ' Frank is actually a Thunderbird. Not so different from a Hippogriff, the Thunderbird is actually closer to a Phoenix, though all three are bird-like creatures with strong and powerful beaks. In Fantastic Beasts, Newt rescued the Thunderbird from traffickers in Egypt. And, according to Fantastic Beasts ' visual effects supervisor Christian Manz's interview with Entertainment Weekly , "Newt named him Frank and promised to return him to his natural habitat in Arizona." Now, while this information partly explains why Newt landed in New York City in the first place, it doesn't really answer the original question. If Frank is a Thunderbird, then what, exactly, is a Thunderbird?
According to Rowling's Pottermore short story, "History of Magic In North America," the Thunderbird is a magical bird native to Arizona "that can sense danger and create storms as it flies." On the official Fantastic Beasts Twitter account, this description of the Thunderbird was amended. "The Thunderbird possesses powerful wings and can sense supernatural danger," they tweeted. Manz revealed a bit more about Frank's magical power in his interview with EW : "Its multiple powerful wings shimmer with cloud-and-sun-like patterns and their flapping can create storms."
Thunderbirds were also considered particularly valuable, specifically their tail feathers, which were frequently used by wandmaker Shikoba Wolfe. "Wolfe wands were generally held to be extremely powerful, though difficult to master," wrote Rowling in "History of Magic in North America," adding that Wolfe Thunderbird wands were favored by Transfigurers. The Thunderbird is also significant because it inspired one of the houses of the American Wizarding School, Ilvermorny. Thunderbird House "favours adventurers," according to Pottermore. (Fun fact: J.K. Rowling herself is a Thunderbird.)
Frank's role in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is unclear, but I'm guessing his magical wings and his ability to warn of supernatural danger will come in handy for Newt and his friends.
Images: Warner Bros Pictures; fantasticbeasts/tumblr (2)