Should Harry Potter Return In 'Fantastic Beasts'? It Might Be Time To Move On To Other Parts Of J.K. Rowling's World
Speculation is swirling in the Harry Potter fandom again, this time triggered by tweets by J.K. Rowling that are hinting at... something. Something big, maybe? Certainly something newsworthy to the millions upon millions of Harry Potter fans who make up our modern society. Especially given the prospect that Rowling may be hinting at the return of Harry Potter* in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. That last prospect, though, doesn't excite me to the degree that it feels like is expected of me. There's just so much more to Harry Potter than Harry.
I've been a die-hard Harry Potter fan for over half of my life — I've joined the clubs, I've played quidditch, I've gone to a convention, the stats are all there. Harry Potter the world and Harry Potter the character both mean the world to me, and my experiences have been such that I literally cannot picture my life without it. But I'm kind of meh on the sentiment that Harry's presence is required as we march forward into the next stage of our experiences with the stories of the Wizarding World.
If Harry does make an appearance in the Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them movie, I will greet him like an old friend. But if he doesn't — and there is every chance that J.K. Rowling's anagram does not in fact mean what it's been theorized to mean — then I will breathe a sigh of relief. Because as much as Harry will always be a part of me, I've gotten what I most needed from him. In capitalistic terms it makes sense to bring him back — he's made millions. In narrative terms, though, it's far from necessary.
Harry Potter is an amazing character, an icon, a man, a myth, a legend, etc. — and he cannot be discounted. But in the Harry Potter books it's all too clear: Harry Potter is not everything there is.
We've had a lot of time with Harry, and I'd never feel right saying that that time has categorically come to an end. What I do feel confident saying, though, is that there are so many other dynamic, fascinating characters present in every inch of the Wizarding World. And Fantastic Beasts marks the first great step in a whole new era of exploring them and the history that created them.
The Pottermore publication of a new short story involving Harry and friends at the Quidditch World Cup brought me a kind of joy completely unique to the trio and their generation. If it strikes Rowling's fancy I'd be happy to return to that whenever she pleases. But there's a lot more that I want to pull out of her vast imagination before I'll really feel the need to circle back to that. Here are a few:
Other countries' Wizarding societies
Fantastic Beasts will fulfill some of this with its 1920s New York setting, but it's something that's been on my mind since Goblet Of Fire or before: What is it like being a Wizard outside of the British isles? Outside of Europe? We see the briefest of glimpses, but we get no insight, and I can't be left to this Key & Peele sketch because I've got a feeling it's not what Rowling had in mind.
The founding of Hogwarts
We've got enough dramatic irony here to fuel an entire period drama: Hermione will never stop talking about Hogwarts, A History for as long as she lives, and there's that whole Chamber Of Secrets thing looming over the whole shebang: A story centered around the four founders of Hogwarts has major potential for cinematic adaptation. Four different, clashing personalities building something that'll survive the centuries? That's fodder for an epic. One of them being a raging racist who likes to hide giant snake-creatures in the basement? C'mon.
Plus there's a great headcanon going around Tumblr of Idris Elba as Godric Gryffindor, and how amazing would that be?
Other moments in wizarding history
Considering it was Newt Scamander who created the Werewolf Registry in 1947, there's a small if remote chance that we'll get a glimpse of it in Fantastic Beasts, though that may be farther along than the film plans on going. In any case, it's moments like that — which started the mandate to list all known werewolves in Great Britain — that have a lot of dynamics worth exploring. It's a very different experience for Fenrir Greyback, for example, than it is for, say, Remus Lupin. Socioeconomic wizard problems are more fascinating than the wider world gives them credit for.
A Whole Lot More On the Marauders Era & The Ramp-Up to the First Wizarding War
This will always be the big kahuna for me. Though she throws us scraps from time to time, I get the sense that Rowling is not nearly as enthralled with the generation that came immediately before Harry as her fandom is. I'll take anything: A deep historical account of the dynamics of the era that led into the first Wizarding War, a movie or short story or novella entirely from Lily Evans' point of view as she navigates Hogwarts as a Muggle-born and as her sister grows to resent her, or from Sirius Black's point of view as he confronts his privilege as a pureblood and grows to realize how poisonous and bigoted his family has been. I'd take Remus Lupin anywhere and anytime, struggling as an ostracized minority and grappling with the fate of his friends and his society. I'd take a war movie with the original Order of the Phoenix making up the ensemble cast, or a TV series chronicling the lives of the marauders as they mature from adolescent pranksters to key players in the battle against Lord Voldemort. There's so much there.
We don't need to keep touting Harry out like he's a millennial Frodo. When or if it's his time to come back to us, he will. In the meantime there's still a lot of fun to be had in the world that made him.
*UPDATE: Rowling posted a new string of tweets that may debunk the initial interpretation that Harry may return.
This doesn't change that much of the argument of this post — given the media's reluctance to move past Harry — but it does have an impact on Rowling's next narrative steps.
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