Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was mostly meant to stand on its own in the Harry Potter universe. At least, that’s what we heard at first. Anyone who’s seen the magical film — which stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander — knows that there were plenty of winks and nods to hardcore Harry Potter fans sprinkled throughout. Before the film’s release, Warner Bros. announced that they’d be turning their new story into a five-film franchise — an ambitious, if not slightly questionable choice given the fact that the first movie’s success had not yet been guaranteed.
This naturally led fans to wonder how, exactly, author J.K. Rowling would be able to expand on her already expansive story. And some have surmised that perhaps the Fantastic Beasts franchise won’t just serve to show us new parts of the Wizarding world — it will help us learn more about how its darkest wizard came into power.
We already know there’s a major Harry Potter connection
While Rowling once insisted that Fantastic Beasts is not a Harry Potter prequel, we now know that’s simply not true in the strictest sense. After all, we got a brief glimpse of Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard who featured prominently in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, will feature prominently in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts films, so we’ll likely get to see the full extent of his dark magic. But he’s not the only HP connection we can expect to see in the new franchise. Albus Dumbledore — the Hogwarts headmaster in most of the Harry Potter books — will also be playing a large role in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts films.
It seems unlikely that the new franchise will only make time for a handful of Harry Potter‘s most memorable characters. But since the Fantastic Beasts series is set decades before Harry was born, there is a limit to who could possibly play a role. There is one character that would feel like a glaring omission, though, given that we’re likely to spend a lot of time on the Dark Arts over the next few films — and that’s the Dark Lord himself. Luckily, there’s a big clue that could indicate we’ll be seeing Voldemort in some form and at some point in Fantastic Beasts.
The Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts timelines are eerily similar
J.K. Rowling recently revealed that the Fantastic Beasts stories will span roughly two decades — from 1926 to 1945. For those paying attention in history class, that means that we can expect to see the Wizarding world’s response to World War II. But will the film also be laying the groundwork for the First Wizarding War? Fans instantly looked to the Harry Potter timeline after the author’s latest revelation, and made a pretty big connection: Tom Riddle, the man who would later become Voldemort, was born in 1926. That seems like a pretty big coincidence — especially for an author who has proven time and again how much she loves fitting small details together in her stories.
Tom Riddle’s connections to the Fantastic Beasts timeline doesn’t end with his birth, either. His final year at Hogwarts was 1945 — and the year that he more or less disappeared, until he re-emerged as Lord Voldemort. While we know he didn’t transform into the Dark Lord immediately upon graduation, that’s really the extent of our knowledge about how He Who Must Not Be Named rose to power. It seems feasible, though, that he would have been building his army of Death Eaters from his fellow classmates — the very same students that Dumbledore would have been teaching that year.
So, we know we’ll see Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts — and during a time when he was teaching Tom Riddle at Hogwarts. We know that the franchise spans Voldemort’s entire early years as well. If these pieces don’t add up to Fantastic Beasts being — at least in some way — about Voldemort’s evil origins, then it will be one of the biggest missteps in Harry Potter history.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!