Five things we learned about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander is a beastie-carrying eccentric, while there’s a reason America’s monstrous Muggles have been renamed ‘No-Majs’, according to Entertainment Weekly

You might think the controversial news that America’s Muggles are to be known as “No-Majs” would be more than enough JK Rowling-related revelation for one week. But the new issue of Entertainment Weekly features further snippets about forthcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that are now leaking out into the blogosphere faster than you can say “fizzing whizbee”. Here are five takeaways to help prepare us for the first instalment of the new fantasy trilogy.

This is a very different movie from the one Warner Bros first planned

When news broke that Rowling was to pen her debut screenplay for the first in a new trilogy set in the wizarding world 70 years before Harry Potter and co turned up at Hogwarts, most imagined Fantastic Beasts as a sort of magical Indiana Jones-style adventure in which the swashbuckling wizard set off to track down a different colourful nastie in each film. And according to Entertainment Weekly, that’s pretty much what studio Warner Bros expected, too. But it now reports that the movie’s storyline will be deeper, richer, and possibly a lot more like the plot of the original Ghostbusters – with a little bit of X-Men thrown in.

America’s Muggles (OK, No-Majs) are no laughing matter

The Muggles of JK Rowling’s Britain are a bit of a joke. At best, they are patronised (by the more benevolent denizens of the wider wizard world) as moronic curiosities; at worst, they are treated as impotent subhuman imbeciles (by the death eaters and their ilk). But America’s Muggles appear to be a far more threatening breed – and it suddenly makes sense that Rowling has handed them the new moniker “No-Maj”.

Entertainment Weekly reveals that America’s witches and wizards, far from manipulating helpless Muggles from behind the scenes, live in fear of persecution from their No-Maj counterparts. The US is described as “wiz-phobic”: it never really moved on from the Salem witch trials.

Chief among the anti-magic brigade will be Samantha Morton’s Mary Lou, leader of a group known as the Second Salemers, who are out to “expose and destroy wizards and witches”. Ezra Miller stars as her son, Credence, who’s described as “the cast’s most mysterious character”. Rowling loves to expose hypocrisy in bigots, so we’re guessing he’s secretly harbouring his own magical powers.

Newt’s briefcase has Tardis-like qualities

Earlier this week, we caught our first glimpse of Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne as Scamander, showing off a look that might easily have been inspired by Doctor Who. Now it appears that reference might not have been entirely accidental, for we’re told that Newt’s old-fashioned briefcase is really a repository for storing various beasties in life-sized environments.

The plot of Fantastic Beasts – and here’s where Ghostbusters comes in – apparently spins off an incident that causes Scamander’s monsters to escape their leathery prison and gallop off into the night, where they can upset the Salemers and their supporters. Then (we’re guessing) Scamander spends the rest of the movie getting his beasties back, perhaps with some sort of magical proton pack equivalent. Though a wand would do as well.

Katherine Waterston will play Porpentina.
Katherine Waterston will play Porpentina. Photograph: Rex Shutterstock

The magizoologist is keener on beasties than actual people

Colouring the plot will be Newt’s eccentric personality. The Ministry of Magic employee is described as being more interested in his beastly collection than actual people, which should make his interactions with Katherine Waterston’s Porpentina a lot more interesting, especially as we know he eventually marries her. Entertainment Weekly also reveals that Tina’s sister, Queenie, is a mind-reader.

Supporting characters range from mind-reading witches to wide-eyed ‘No-Majs’

Entertainment Weekly reveals that Colin Farrell’s Graves is a powerful auror and aide to the US wizarding world’s president, so we’re guessing he’s leading the fight against the Salemers. The cast also includes Dan Fogler as a No-Maj factory worker who encounters Newt and becomes aware of a whole new world of magic.

Final thoughts

Is the American witchcraft community a bit pathetic, to be scared of a few puny Mu … sorry, No-Majs? And what exactly do the Salemers have up their sleeves to challenge the might of wizardry, beyond force of numbers? After all, any witch or wizard in his or her right mind would, presumably, be able to escape the clutches of Mary Lou and her brigade with a simple disapparation spell?

And doesn’t the persecution of individuals with special powers by ordinary humans sound like the plot of just about every X-Men movie?


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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