[Extremely Cornelius Fudge voice.] The wizarding world is back! Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald reaches theaters Friday, and with it comes the return of Newt Scamander, Albus Dumbledore, all manner of magical creatures, and—most importantly—J.K. Rowling’s wondrous creations. Like Newt into a pool with a Kelpie in the trailer, we can’t wait to dive back into this world, and here are the people, places, and magical objects we’re most excited to see. Warning: We solemnly swear that there will be spoilers for the original Harry Potter series and 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The Mirror of Erised
Mallory Rubin: Since an 11-year-old Harry Potter, tousle-haired and pajama-clad, stood in front of the Mirror of Erised in Sorcerer’s Stone and gazed with fierce longing upon the family he never knew, the ornate object has occupied a special place in Potterheads’ hearts and minds. As Harry stared for the first time since he was an infant into his mother and father’s eyes, not knowing how the mirror worked, “he had a powerful kind of ache inside him, half joy, half terrible sadness.” Understanding came for Harry, as it so often did over the course of the original seven Potter books, from Albus Dumbledore. “It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts,” the Hogwarts headmaster said, but his explanation came with a warning: “However, this mirror will give us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away before it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.” As he asked Harry not to search for the mirror after it moved from that abandoned classroom to a new home, he issued one of the series’ signature lines: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
We have remembered that, and many of us have long suspected that Dumbledore’s gutting words of caution were informed by personal experience. And so seeing Jude Law’s Dumbledore gazing into the mirror in the second Crimes of Grindelwald trailer felt like soaring into the air on a Firebolt, or sipping a warm mug of Butterbeer, or wrapping ourselves in Molly Weasley’s comforting embrace. It felt invigorating. It felt predestined. It felt right.
It also felt shocking, because the trailer showed Dumbledore, hair curling on his forehead, fire in his eyes, looking not at thick woolen socks, as he told Harry in Stone, or at his dead sister, Ariana, and the rest of his family, as Harry and readers alike deduced in Deathly Hallows the headmaster would really see, but at Gellert Grindelwald, his boyhood friend and love, who fled after Ariana’s death and embarked on a reign of terror that ended only when Dumbledore bested him in a duel of legend in 1945. We know, based on Harry’s experience with the mirror in Stone, that people can envision different things based on the context of the moment: After seeing his parents earlier in the book, Harry sees the titular stone in the book’s climax. So Dumbledore seeing Grindelwald in this film does not mean he wouldn’t, in fact, have seen his family later. People change, and so do the inner workings of our hearts. Dumbledore has always been one of the series’ most complex characters, and the promise of the mirror in this movie is the promise of learning more about Dumbledore’s relationship with Grindelwald, and power, and his own life-altering regret. It’s the promise of a key connection to the original canon and new information that some readers have thirsted after for two decades. It is the deepest, more desperate desire of our hearts.
Nagini’s True Identity
Jason Concepcion: “Who is to milk Nagini?” It’s a timeless question, posed by Voldemort, who, before returning to the fullness of life, succored himself on the venom of his great and deadly pet snake and Horcrux. The snake that Neville Longbottom kills with the sword of Gryffindor. And we now know, after much HEATED internet theorizing, that the character called “The Maledictus,” played by Claudia Kim, is Nagini, the very same milkable snake and casing for a shard of Voldy’s soul.
So, what does this mean? Nagini being a person, albeit one trapped in beast form, opens up a host of fascinating questions. The Maledictus appears, in one of the trailers, on Hogwarts’s bridge with Newt and several Aurors who are meeting with Dumbledore. Does that mean that the eventual headmaster of the school knew, when he gave Harry, Ron, and Hermione their Horcrux-hunting mission, that they would necessarily be killing someone? How much, if any, of her human consciousness remains? How does Nagini come to be in Voldemort’s possession? Is Neville a murderer? And what are we to think of “Who is to milk Nagini?” now?
Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts
Zach Kram: There’s a reason that after spending nearly a full year in the wilderness, the seventh Harry Potter book (and eighth movie) returned to Hogwarts for its climax. In these stories, wandlore is important, and character development is vital, and the ingenious mix of humor and drama is crucial, but like Fawkes’s second feather in Harry’s wand, Hogwarts is the core that lets the Potterverse produce magic.
The castle is the series’ most fully developed environment, but even the existing depth leaves room for further growth. Beasts is, to some extent, a Potter prequel, which will allow J.K. Rowling to explore both new places (America in the first movie, Paris in the second) and new time periods. How does Hogwarts look and act a half-century before all the time we’ve spent there as an audience, wandering its hidden passages and discovering its secrets and soaring through the air above its battlements? There’s a reason, too, that the first Crimes of Grindelwald trailer opened with a Hogwarts scene: After a full movie away, it’s time to head back, even if for only a few scenes, to dip our toes into the prefects’ bath once again.
A World Full of Nifflers
Claire McNear: You can stake your claim on the best part of the Harry Potter universe. It’s a timeless tale of good over evil, you say. Or else a classic coming-of-age saga! Or a gripping story of friendship, and duty, and love!
But, c’mon, fellow Rowlingians: The most magical part of greater Potterdom is the world-building—all the kooky inventions and customs and creatures dreamed up by J.K. And above everything else she’s built, including but not limited to Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, the Quidditch World Cup, old-timey international magical detective work, and Butterbeer hangovers, I want to live in the world of the Niffler.
Look at this damn thing! A kleptomaniac with a heart of gold. A bouncy little platypus with the face of a cat who’s just nudged something fragile off a shelf. A pocket-size amoral typhoon with superb comedic timing. Do I own a Niffler T-shirt? Am I seriously contemplating reworking my life around the surprisingly robust selection of fan-made Niffler swag? Do I love the first Fantastic Beasts Niffler like my own child? Can you even freaking believe that The Crimes of Grindelwald is apparently going to introduce us to a whole dang litter of fuzzy baby Nifflers, meaning that since we last saw him (or her?), our Niffler has found love? My heart has been stolen by the Nifflers. I hope they keep it warm in their belly pouches forevermore.
Jude Law As Young Dumbledore
Kate Knibbs: Jude Law should be in everything, in my opinion, but he’s especially well-suited to play Young Dumbledore. Law excels at playing peevish, mischievous, charming-but-manipulative characters, and I think he’ll nail Dumbledore as a younger, less wise wizard. Dumbledore is always his most compelling in the Harry Potter universe when you’re not entirely clear what his motives are, and I think Law will be able to bring out the complicated human side wonderfully.
Young Dumbledore’s Waistcoats
Michael Baumann: I like the Harry Potter Expanded Universe, but I don’t love the HPEU, and I ran hot and cold with the first Fantastic Beasts movie. But I am a man in his 30s, staring at an increasingly nebbish, increasingly bald future; how can I age gracefully out of my hoodie-and-baseball cap days and into a dignified middle age? I didn’t expect to find an answer in the The Crimes of Grindelwald trailer, but there it is, and in the Mirror of Erised, no less!
Here’s Jude Law as Young Dumbledore, sporting a thick fox hunter’s beard, a back-to-the-warning-track hairline, and a wonderful tweed waistcoat. Now here’s a fantastic beast. Sage but vigorous, professorial but rugged, polite but mischievous and almost flirtatious. Law’s Dumbledore sports a variety of sweaters and waistcoats that make him look like the kind of man who can go out and shoot a pheasant, cook it for you, pick out an appropriate wine pairing, and compose a poem about the pheasant’s place in the circle of life. Fashion, like life, is also cyclical, and I’m hoping The Crimes of Grindelwald sparks a renaissance for tweed and sweaters, because while I don’t look like Jude Law, I could totally dress like Dumbledore.
The New, Very Fantastic, Fantastic Beasts
Kate Halliwell: While I too am looking forward to ogling Yumbledore in FB2, I have to say that I can’t wait for a second helping of Fantastic Beasts’ fantastic beasts. However you feel about the first movie, I think everyone agrees that the visual representations of magic are extraordinarily well done. The spells are gorgeously rendered, the colors pop off the screen, and the creatures are everything from cute (Nifflers) to magnificent (Thunderbirds) to terrifying (Nundu). The second film looks to be no exception—baby Nifflers aside, we’ve got Kelpies (giant seahorse things!); Augureys (giant bird things!); our good friends the Thestrals and Boggarts; and some other as-yet-unidentified creatures, including scary hairless cats and some sort of Chinese dragon creature. So if I can’t get a young Dumbledore–Grindelwald makeout scene, I suppose watching Newt seduce a bunch of wild new creatures will do.
Jacob Kowalski, My No-Maj King
Miles Surrey: I have what would politely be described as a cursory knowledge of the Harry Potter–verse: My understanding of The Crimes of Grindelwald begins and ends with the luscious fibers of Jude Law’s Dumble-beard. The Young Dumbledore notwithstanding, then, I’m pretty hyped for the return of Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski. If you’re not a Harry Potter diehard, you should be, too.
Jacob is basically the only No-Maj—a.k.a. non-magical human—of any import in this franchise, and he makes for a perfect audience surrogate to viewers who aren’t privy to the Nagini, Maledictus, and Mirror of Erised of it all. My guy Jacob just wants to run a successful bakery: #goals. So when The Crimes of Grindelwald succumbs to magic speak that borders on the incomprehensible—sorry, I’m more of a Philip Pullman person myself!—I’ll be looking to Jacob to look just as perplexed as I am.
The Role of the Elder Wand—and Wandlore at Large
Isaac Lee: A key element in the marketing around this film is the sign of the Deathly Hallows, but the only Hallow actually seen in trailers and promotional images is the Elder Wand. The 15-inch Wand of Destiny, with a Thestral hair core, is the most famous wand in the Wizarding World, and one at the center of the mysterious Dumbledore-Grindelwald duel that the Beasts series seems to be building toward. It’s unclear how Albus Dumbledore defeated the titular Gellert Grindelwald when the Deathstick purportedly guarantees a win for its master, but it’s safe to assume that the method of ownership transference of the wand—which played a monumental role in the Potter series, and which we know has transferred many times across history despite the boasts of those who wield it—will be of great import. Some have speculated that Tina Goldstein and Newt Scamander teaming to disarm Grindelwald in the first Beasts film is significant in this regard.
The Elder Wand, however, is not the only wand used by the duo. Before Grindelwald stole the Hallow from Gregorovitch, he used his original wand, which looks like a literal piece of bark. Dumbledore’s pre-Deathstick wand, notably, had to be redesigned via CGI after J.K. Rowling noted that the original prop looked too similar to the Elder Wand. This intentional distancing, especially after the previous design was shown juxtaposed with the Elder Wand in a promotional photo, only fuels suspicion that the two wands are related—after all, Dumblestick 1.0 looks an awful lot like the Pangaea-theory complement to the Deathstick. Is it possible that they possess twin cores? Could Priori Incantatem be at play again? And speaking of twin-core wands, I’m also on the lookout for Dumbledore’s faithful friend, Fawkes the phoenix, who may offer in these new films his tail feathers for the fateful wands that will later choose Tom Marvolo Riddle and Harry James Potter (lest we forget, this franchise is titled “Fantastic Beasts”). All of this will be running through my head as I hold my own, Wizarding World–issued wand in theaters.
The Sibling Rivalry Between Newt and Theseus Scamander
Amelia Wedemeyer: Instead of waiting around for a love scene involving one of the most beloved characters in literature that, let’s face it, is never happening, I’ve decided to turn my attention to the drama that will assuredly play out between the delightfully cute and freckled Scamander brothers.
In incredible character backstory by J.K., the new Fantastic Beasts film will fully introduce us to Newt’s older, war-hero brother, Theseus, as well as Theseus’s fiancé, Leta Lestrange, who was briefly mentioned in the first film, and who—brace yourself—was Newt’s sweetheart while at Hogwarts. And with Tina Goldstein coming back, this love triangle is now a love square, which means the best dramatic story line will not be about hot, young Dumbledore and his lost love, but between two very different brothers and the choices they’ve made to get where they are.
The Mysterious Leta Lestrange
Sean Yoo: In the first Fantastic Beasts movie, the name Leta Lestrange is briefly mentioned during a conversation in which Queenie asks Newt about his close, yet mysterious friendship with Leta. We then see a photo of Leta, who looks awfully similar to Zoë Kravitz. Now, as we time-turn to the present day, the sequel is here, and, lo and behold, Zoë Kravitz is in fact playing Leta Lestrange, in what looks to be a significant role. Among the many reasons to be extremely hyped about this (I could write 1,500 words on Zoë Kravitz’s role alone), the biggest by far is that we’ll be getting an extended look at the Lestrange family, a member of the pureblood-proud Sacred Twenty-Eight, and one of the most infamous families in the Harry Potter universe. This is important, because—speculation warning—trailer breakdowns and other sources of internet sleuthing have informed us that Leta is the daughter of Corvus Lestrange IV, and that Corvus IV had a second child, also named Corvus, with a different woman. And thanks to some family tree stills from those trailers, we now believe that Credence Barebone, our shy yet powerful obscurial played by Ezra Miller, is in fact Corvus Lestrange V. Will there be a family reunion in store for us?
There’s another equally important thing about Leta Lestrange that I can’t even begin to talk about without my blood pressure rising. But quickly, so as to not pass out at my desk: Leta, Newt’s former fling, is currently engaged to Newt’s brother, Theseus, who will be in this new movie. Can you imagine how uncomfortable the scenes between these two brothers will be, given Newt’s inability to hold a conversation with … anyone?!