Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the not-quite Harry Potter sequel-prequel, has been coy about its association to the original series, with only a few short web chapters thus far connecting the American Wizarding world to the magical British one we know and love. Ilvermorny (the American wizarding school) is interesting, but it just isn’t the same as Hogwarts. But that doesn’t mean there’s not some Hogwarts DNA in it.
Fantastic Beasts is its own unique story, and since it’s set in Prohibition-era New York, few Potter characters can cameo. But the latest Fantastic Beasts trailer does finally include direct references to the franchise, including shout-outs to Dumbledore and Hogwarts, as well as a surprising amount of Harry Potter callbacks. Watching it feels like drinking a warm shot of Firewhiskey in The Three Broomsticks. Let’s break it down.
Newt Scamander ponders the New York City skyline
We open with Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander doing an activity his granddaughter in-law (Luna Lovegood) is very fond of: Staring into space. In this case, he’s contemplating the New York City skyline, though he could very well be pondering the existence of Crumple-Horned Snorkacks or Nargles. In the background, Colin Farrell — who is playing an American Auror named Percival Graves— says, “I think there’s much more to you than meets the eye.”
A Callback to the Monster Book of Monsters
As we learn from Farrell’s voiceover, Newt was kicked out of Hogwarts for endangering human life with a beast. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Hagrid’s backstory circa Chamber of Secrets is similar. Curiously, Hagrid’s expulsion has stripped him of wand privileges: As a Hogwart’s dropout, he must hide his verboten wand inside that flowery pink umbrella. Newt, on the other hand, uses his at various times throughout the trailer. Either Newt’s use is illegal, or the wand rules have changed since then. This shot of Newt’s briefcase also offers a parallel between the two men, as it recalls that unfortunately biting book Hagrid assigns his third-year students, years later.
A shot that recalls The Knight Bus
This topsy-turvy road scene might have cars more fitting of Midnight in Paris than the ‘90s Muggle London of Harry Potter, but the chaotic framing of the scene calls to mind Stan Shunpike, Ernie, and their questionably efficient transportation methods.
A Dumbledore name-drop
Farrell’s voiceover informs us that Dumbledore liked Newt and fought against his expulsion. “I wonder what makes Albus Dumbledore so fond of Mr. Scamander?” he muses, sounding about as cheerful as Viktor Krum. Meanwhile, this close up shows Newt’s special briefcase tab. Much like Unplottable Maps, his briefcase has a “Muggle Worthy” setting. This might have been handy for Harry and the trio to have known about when they’re on the run in Deathly Hallows, though Hermione’s Marry Poppins-esque bag still worked out nicely.
Shown here, we see the mouthful that is Magical Congress of the United States of America, or MACUSA. Farrell’s character Graves is the right-hand man to its leader, Seraphina Picquery, played by Selma’s Carmen Ejogo. As we know from Fudge, Umbridge, and Scrimgeour, the Wizarding world doesn’t have the best handle on bureaucracy. Displaying giant vainglorious banners of one’s face is not a sign of a humble ruler — and more alarmingly, according to the Harry Potter wiki MACUSA President Seraphina Picquery has a wand that takes to Dark magic “like a vampire to blood.” However, she also allowed Wizards to evade Prohibition, so her morality is still a toss-up at this point.
Societal Unrest Abounds
As we know from Harry’s experiences with The Daily Prophet, newspapers aren’t always the best source of truth in the Wizarding world. Still, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and similarly, it’s worth a read to see what’s going on. Fugitive Alberto Macellarius is apparently the Sirius Black of his day — though whether he’s as innocent as Black remains to be seen. Meanwhile, magical disturbances — perhaps caused by Newt’s escaped fantastical beasts — risks Wizarding world exposure. It’s safe to say Prohibition era Wizard New York is no calmer than ‘90s era Wizard London.
Diagon Alley — Or, at least, something with a similar entrance
Note the familiar brick wall you must tap to open. Either Newt, his wife Porpentina Goldstein (a relative of Harry’s classmate Anthony) and her sister Queenie are taking a jaunt to Diagon Alley, or Wizarding New York has a spot with a similar entrance.
Or simple household cleaning spells? Either way, Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie (Alison Sudol) look ready to take on a troll, if need be.
Colin Farrell’s mysterious Graves is looking grave
The jury is out on whether Graves is an antagonist — or just a guy doing his job. He certainly sounds sinister in the trailer, and works under the thumb of President Madam Seraphina Picquery (Wizard America gets their shit together about lady presidents long before Muggle America) but not much is known about him otherwise. Rowling likes to introduce mysterious male characters who aren’t what they initially seem to be — Sirius, Lupin, Moody, even Mundungus Fletcher — so we’ll take a wild guess and say he’s not all bad.
Or another phoenix? The earlier references to Dumbledore don’t rule out Fawkes completely — perhaps Dumbledore merely wasn’t shown in the trailer to make his presence more of a reveal. Though more likely, this bird shown in the trailer is another escaped beast from Newt’s case. Porpentina is chasing it through an underground cloistered area.
Nifflers are among the fluffier and more adorable fantastic beasts, attracted to shiny objects. Harry and his friends first learn of them in Hagrid’s fourth year class, though in fifth year, Fred and George’s pal Lee Jordan puts one in Umbridge’s office to fuck with her. Never change, Fred, George, and Lee. Oh, wait…
Newt Scamander Has Mad-Eye Moody’s Trunk
Newt is shown disappearing into his trunk at the end of the trailer, much as the real Moody is hidden away in Goblet of Fire. Let’s hope Newt doesn’t get locked in.
The trailer closes with a version of the signature Potter theme song, just in case you weren’t at maximum your-house-just-won-the-Quidditch-Cup level hype. If any Potter fans were mildly intrigued but unsure of how Fantastic Beasts might connect, this trailer clarifies everything. The Potter world lives on in many forms, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will top even the original films when it releases in November.