If You Haven’t Read the Books …

A lot of the Harry Potter references in Fantastic Beasts are obvious: Dumbledore, the Lestrange family, alohomora, and the sign of the Deathly Hallows, for example. Others come directly from the spinoff book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, what about the more subtle things that carried over from the original series, things that were glossed over or entirely left out of the movie versions? Here are a few things you might have missed if you haven’t read the books:

Undetectable extension charms: Newt’s suitcase is the most blatant use of the undetectable extension charm we’ve seen so far, but Hermione’s bag from Deathly Hallows comes close. It appears to only be big enough for a cell phone and wallet, but she uses it to carry books, clothes, medical supplies, and even a tent. Earlier in the series, we saw magically enlarged tents and learned that Arthur Weasley enchanted the family car to carry the entire family plus all the kids’ school things. Even the movies show their share of things that are larger inside than out, although never to the extent of Newt’s menagerie inside a suitcase.

Nonverbal magic: Often, the characters of Fantastic Beasts simply point their wands rather than shouting out incantations. In the Harry Potter books, Harry and his classmates start to learn nonverbal magic as sixth years, and even the movies show it when Dumbledore and Voldemort duel in Order of the Phoenix. It’s not easy, but the Fantastic Beasts characters are adult wizards rather than children still learning magic. I also wonder if Ilvermorny might place greater emphasis on subtle methods of spellcasting, like nonverbal magic, since America has harsher laws about keeping magic secret.

Wandless magic: Percival Graves repeatedly uses wandless magic, something that very few characters in the Harry Potter world are capable of. However, it’s not unheard of. Most wizards need a powerful instrument to channel their powers, but some characters, including Dumbledore, occasionally perform magic without a wand, both in the books and movies. Graves’ ability to do so is an early sign that he is not the ordinary government employee he’s pretending to be.

Obscurials: While the terms “obscurial” and “obscurus” are new, the idea of a young witch or wizard suppressing their magic is not. As many people – including me – have pointed out, Ariana Dumbledore also bottled her magic up only to have it come out of her in violent, uncontrollable bursts. The idea of an obscurus builds on what has already been described in her story.

Squibs: When Percival Graves calls Credence a “squib”, those who have only seen the Harry Potter movies may be confused. However, the concept of people from magical families with no magic of their own was first introduced in the book version of Chamber of Secrets and brought up again in Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows. Incidentally, both Credence and Ariana are mistaken for squibs.

Legilimency: Queenie Goldstein’s powers are really nothing new. Although we’ve never seen a character be quite so open about the fact that they can read minds, Voldemort’s ability to do so is mentioned in the movies and explored in more detail in the books. Other characters, like Snape and Dumbledore, also have varying levels of skill with legilimency. Queenie’s abilities seem more powerful even than Voldemort’s, since she senses Tina’s fear when they are not in the same room, but this may be a product of the strong bond between the sisters.


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