Contrasting Motives and Where to Find Them

One thing I’ve noticed about Fantastic Beasts is that each of the main quartet is motivated by love, while the rest of the cast is motivated by fear or hatred.

Newt loves his animals and spends the movie trying to protect them. Tina seeks to do what is right and is driven to help those who are vulnerable, while Queenie loves people, especially her sister. And by opening a bakery, Jacob wants to be able to make other people happy doing something that he loves. When they are drawn into the movie’s conflict, it is in defense of the things they hold dear.

In contrast, President Seraphina Picquery is motivated by fear that the magical world will be exposed, Credence Barebone by fear of his own repressed powers, his mother Mary Lou by hatred of magic, and Grindelwald and his supporters by anger at the status quo and disdain for muggles. All three competing factions – MACUSA, Grindelwald, and Second Salem – define themselves by hatred and fear of each other.

While Newt and his friends are of course afraid in dangerous situations, they never allow their fear to control them. They certainly never give themselves over to hate. This contrast between the film’s four heroes and the world that surrounds them emphasizes the fact that in spite of their circumstances, they are constantly trying to do good and acting in defense of the things they love and value.


Percival Graves, Credence Barebone, and the Sign of the Deathly Hallows

“You want to join the wizarding world,” one of the latest Fantastic Beasts promos begins. “I want those things, too.”

Wait … things, plural? What else was on that list? I have some ideas, but I’ll get to them later. The same voice continues: “There’s something else. Something I haven’t told you.”


Yes, that’s the sign of the Deathly Hallows, and that’s Percival Graves talking to Credence Barebone, again. Unlikely allies is a pretty big understatement, with one being a wizard and the other a Second Salemer, but I’m more convinced than ever that they’re working together on something, and I’m certain Graves is working for Grindelwald. Why? Because this is not the first time he’s been linked with the sign of the Deathly Hallows, which of course was used by Grindelwald during the same time period when the movie takes place. It’s right there on his poster:


It’s also not the first time he’s said things that sound like Grindelwald. “We’ve been living in the shadows for too long” comes straight out of Grindelwald’s talk about wizards revealing themselves and dominating muggles.

So here’s a theory: Credence Barebone – adopted son of the Second Salem leader – is in fact a wizard. Because of the strict American separation of the magical and “no-maj” worlds, as well as his family’s anti-magic views, he never had the chance to attend Ilvermorny or be a part of the wizarding world. Percival Graves is drawn to Grindelwald’s ideas as an alternative to Rappaport’s Law and a way to bring down the New Salem witch hunters – or maybe just because he’s power-hungry, depending on how (un)sympathetic a character he turns out to be. He discovers Credence’s secret and draws him into their plans, with the conflict between their faction and the Second Salemers unfolding at the same time that Newt’s magical creatures get loose – and, of course, the two plotlines becoming tangled together.

Watch the promo here:


Fantastic Beasts Speculation

One thing I’ve said before is that it looks like Fantastic Beasts will be about what happens when the magical and muggle worlds collide. With Rappaport’s Law preventing wizard/muggle marriages and even friendships, the Second Salem group looking to start a witch hunt, and of course the basic premise of magical creatures loose in New York City, that seems fairly obvious.

Oh, and there’s Grindelwald. I didn’t make the connection before, but Grindelwald’s rise to power – mentioned in one of the trailers – was all about muggle vs. wizard conflict. He believed that wizards’ powers gave them the right to rule over muggles, and that taking control would be “for the greater good” – or at least, that’s the justification he gave to Dumbledore. Whereas the Death Eaters believed in excluding muggles and muggle-borns, something that was dependent on staying hidden, Grindelwald’s agenda could only have been fulfilled by revealing their existence. Stepping out of the shadows, so to speak.

Wait a moment. Where have I heard that before?

In the most recent Fantastic Beasts trailer, two men are standing in an alleyway, looking at a wall plastered with Second Salem flyers, and one tells the other, “We’ve been living in the shadows for too long”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the two men are Percival Graves, a MACUSA auror, and Credence Barebone, from the New Salem Philanthropic Society – an odd couple of people to be having that sort of conversation. Who is “we”?

But what if … Credence Barebone, who is supposed to be important somehow, is in fact a wizard? It must be hard to be a muggle-born wizard under Rappaport’s Law, and even harder if your family is devoted to wiping out magic. Someone in that position might hide their powers and lash out even harder against witches and wizards, or might be vulnerable to manipulation by someone like Grindelwald, who thought wizards should take control.

Surely he had followers, or else he never would have gotten where he did. In a setting like 1920’s Wizarding America, where tensions between wizards and muggles apparently are already high, it’s not hard to imagine that some people would have thought he had the right idea.

And with that in mind, with five movies to go, it would be a lot more interesting to see Grindelwald’s rise and fall than to watch Newt Scamander chase magical creatures around different muggle cities. I hope that’s the direction the series will take.