I just finished reading a Pottermore article that included this synopsis of The Crimes of Grindelwald:
We don’t want to give too much away, of course, but here is a snapshot of what is in store. At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.
Most of this is nothing new, but I was very interested to see one detail in particular: most of Grindelwald’s followers do not know about his true agenda. That raises the question of what, exactly, they think he’s doing.
To be fair, most of the Death Eaters didn’t know Voldemort’s true agenda, either. They did not know the full extent of his attempts at immortality, which he kept carefully secret, and Dumbledore made it clear that Voldemort did not trust or confide in his followers. However, they did know he hated muggles and muggle-born wizards, and they knew about his plans to take over the magical world. They were there because they agreed and wanted those things, too.
Grindelwald seems to have a very similar agenda (even the pure-blood obsession, it seems like, although that has only been mentioned in promos for the upcoming movie and was not explored in Deathly Hallows or Fantastic Beasts). And, like Voldemort, he has an even deeper agenda that involves mastering death and making himself invincible. The difference is that, according to Pottermore, Grindelwald is even more secretive about his true goals. So, who exactly are Grindelwald’s followers?
There’s almost certainly in inner circle that knows his true goals – at least the world domination part if not the Deathly Hallows part. But there are many others who his surface-level message might appeal to. Depending on just how vague Grindelwald is being about his agenda, many different groups might see him as a positive force for change, from to pure-bloods who believe they’re superior, to muggle-borns and squibs who feel frustrated living double lives, to anyone who has trouble blending in. I would not be surprised if he has a very large American following, given the ultra-strict Rappaport’s Law, which bans even casual friendship between wizards and muggles. His actions so far seem to be mostly focused on terrorist-style attacks and violent attempts to reveal the magical world, so I would guess that his followers are mostly driven by anger and frustration. The one thing they have in common might be that they’re sick of the status quo.
The synopsis makes it sound like Grindelwald is actively recruiting in the upcoming movie. This could just be in a general, off-screen sense; Voldemort was theoretically recruiting in books 5-6, but the only character to join the Death Eaters was Draco Malfoy. However, I wonder if Grindelwald will try to recruit any of the main cast. Here are my thoughts:
- Newt is already working with Dumbledore and knows too much about Grindelwald to join him. Tina is an auror for MACUSA, seems to believe in Rappaport’s Law, and would have no reason to support him. They’re probably out.
- Grindelwald has already tried to recruit Credence once and may try again.
- Leta Lestrange is probably already working for him. Theseus Scamander is working against him, but they’re engaged. There’s definitely some potential for an interesting storyline there.
- Queenie and Jacob are in love, but were forced apart in the last movie. Under Rappaport’s Law, they will never be allowed to get married, and he will never be allowed to even remember her. They just might become desperate enough to see Grindelwald as an appealing alternative. The synopsis goes on to say: “Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family”. Is there a reason it was so important to mention that Queenie has trouble reading minds that don’t think in American English?
- There’s a new character called the Maledictus, who is under some kind of a curse. A lot of people have been speculating that she’s enchanted to turn into a snake, and might become Nagini. If she can’t control her transformations, a curse like that would be very hard to hide and make it impossible for her to blend in in the muggle world. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her working for Grindelwald, if the theories are true.
Sadly, it seems like the people who are most vulnerable to Grindelwald’s influence are the ones who ultimately stand to lose the most if he succeeds. While Voldemort recruited mostly pure-blood wizards who agreed with his goals, Grindelwald is clearly good at marketing his movement to people who probably wouldn’t support him if they knew everything. It will be interesting to see to what extent the series chooses to explore this, because it’s one of the most significant contrasts between Grindelwald and Voldemort.