Why “Fantastic Beasts” Is the Best Possible Idea for a Spin-off Series

J.K. Rowling could have written anything set in the wizarding world, and Harry Potter fans would’ve gladly donned their House robes and would’ve been waiting in line at midnight to read or see it. However, Jo (and to some extent, Warner Bros.) chose to make the first post-Potter wizarding-world franchise about the author of a textbook. To the casual Muggle, this sounds pretty dull, doesn’t it? Even those who have only seen the movies (which is blasphemous in my opinion) are more than likely scratching their heads in this moment. “A series of movies about a textbook author? No thanks.”

Even I was puzzled when I first read the announcement. Granted, I was filled with a mix of emotions, the greatest of which was excitement, but puzzlement was among them too. I had my hopes that Rowling would return to the wizarding world, but I was expecting her return to be in the form of a series of books (or movies) about the previous generation (the marauders) or the next generation (Albus Severus). But Newt Scamander? That, I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had some time to think about it, however, and really, Newt is the best possible idea for a spin-off series. Here’s why the other ideas aren’t so great:

Albus Severus and the Next Generation

Upon finishing “Nineteen Years Later” after 19 hours of reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking: “I WANT MORE. I WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS ON THE TRAIN. I WANT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY GET TO HOGWARTS. I WANT TO SEE ALBUS SEVERUS GET SORTED. I WANT. I WANT. I WANT.”

However, in hindsight, it’s really not such a good idea. While I would love to see Hogwarts again, and the next generation in it, the book or movie itself wouldn’t be very interesting. Why? No Voldemort. And no Voldemort means no conflict. Sure, you could have Scorpius Malfoy antagonize the Potter and Weasley families, but that could really only last for a scene or two. Besides, Harry and Ron went back to save Draco, and it is apparent in the end that the animosity between the families has decreased.

Besides, pitting the Potters and Weasleys against Scorpius Malfoy is about as cliche as making Marley the new Rachel, Ryder the new Finn, Jake the new Puck, and Kitty the new Quinn. Please forgive the Glee analogy. You know what else would be cliche? Inventing a new Voldemort with a different name. Suddenly, you have the same stories all over again with the characters, but with different names—precisely what Glee tried to do with season four. And when we reach the end? Fans will want that next generation to attend Hogwarts too. A vicious cycle of beating dead horses.

Speaking of the end, if a series about the next generation ever did come to fruition, it would almost certainly follow Albus Severus as he attends Hogwarts. Fans would therefore be expecting the series to have seven installments, just like Harry Potter. Seven installments with no conflict-creating Voldemort? Incredibly boring indeed. And again, if a new Voldemort was introduced, there’s no way, despite her incredible talent, that Rowling would be able to write seven book or film installments that didn’t just copy the “original and best” Harry Potter series.

The Marauders and the Previous Generation

This story is a bit more likely than the previous possibility. Here too, though, fans would be expecting seven films, following James Potter’s journey through Hogwarts, meeting Sirius, Lily, Remus, Peter, and Snape. However, the greater conflict in these characters’ lives happens not while they’re at Hogwarts, but after they’ve left—during Voldemort’s rise to power, during their time spent with the first Order of the Phoenix, everything up to, including, and shortly after Voldemort murders James and Lily.

All of which we already know about and which we’ve already seen in the books and movies. Sure, there are some scenes that aren’t shown—Bellatrix torturing Frank and Alice, the Prewett’s deaths, Sirius’s encounter with Peter after the Potters were murdered, just to name a few—but these “not shown” scenes are few and far between. You could put everything in context with one film, possibly, but not a series.

The Founders of Hogwarts

This story could also work as a single book or film, but not a series. We know that Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff founded Hogwarts. We know that almost immediately, there was a rift between Slytherin and the other founders over whether or not to allow Muggle-borns or anyone else without pure-blood status to study magic at the school. We know that because of this disagreement, Slytherin built the Chamber of Secrets within Hogwarts and then left the school.

Barring new material, there isn’t much potential here for a single movie, let alone a series. It would be interesting to see Hogwarts being built (unless it was simply built overnight by some truly powerful magic). It would be interesting to see the four founders realized as fully-fledged characters (and teachers!), to see just how much they personify their respective houses. It would also be interesting to see the first Hogwarts students graduate from the legendary school. Let’s not forget, after all, that we have yet to see what a Hogwarts graduation looks like!

But once again, I’m only thinking of things that I want to see, which are not necessarily the same things that make a book or movie good. What makes a book or movie good? A great deal of conflict to move the plot forward. I’m just not sure there’s enough material here to make a good plot happen. In fact, I think any new material about the founders, and how Hogwarts was built, and what graduations look like, is best suited for an article within Pottermore.

Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald

I’m mostly kidding with this one. Certainly, some fans might be fascinated to see how this particular relationship played out, but again, there’s not enough material to go on here for an entire series. Since J.K. Rowling has published companion novels before, Fantastic Beasts obviously being one of them, along with Quidditch Through the Ages, as well as Tales of Beedle the Bard, it would be interesting to see her publish Rita Skeeter’s The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. However, like the other companion novels, it probably wouldn’t be very long, and the “juiciest bits” are more than likely what we’ve already been given, those printed within Deathly Hallows. A companion novella? Sure. A movie? Not likely.

Quidditch Through the Ages or Tales of Beedle the Bard

Speaking of companion novellas (short novels), what’s the likelihood that these two gems will become feature films or a film series? Well, technically, none of these companion books are really “novellas”. Beedle the Bard is really more of a short story collection or anthology, whereas Quidditch and Fantastic Beasts are short textbooks, which would be considered nonfiction in the wizarding world, because they give facts about things, not plots or stories.

We’ve seen The Tale of the Three Brothers already, in the form of a three-minute animation within Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Three minutes does not a movie make, so Tales of Beedle the Bard certainly wouldn’t constitute a series. A single film? A collection of unrelated short story animations in a single film would feel disjointed to me. Certainly, a direct-to-DVD collection similar to the Pixar Shorts could be made, but not a theatrical release.

What about Quidditch Through the Ages, then? Here’s the deal with the two Hogwarts textbooks. Quidditch Through the Ages tells about exactly that: Quidditch through the ages. Yes, the book also tells about the current balls, players, and rules of Quidditch, as well as the current teams that play it, but before that, the book tells the history of the game’s development, and how it was first discovered. Quidditch was invented so long ago that Kennilworthy Whisp, the author of the Quidditch text, was not there to see it. He compiled his text through secondhand research, relying on what others wrote down from ages past. None of his research was firsthand. He didn’t discover or invent Quidditch, or broomsticks, or the balls for himself. He does not include an Introduction to his text after Dumbledore’s foreward, telling about his travels or the adventures he had while writing his book.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Newt Scamander, however, did just that. Here’s what it says:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them represents the fruit of many years’ travel and research. I look back across the years to the seven-year-old wizard who spent hours in his bedroom dismembering Horklumps and I envy him the journeys to come: from darkest jungle to brightest desert, from mountain peak to marshy bog, that grubby Horklump-encrusted boy would track, as he grew up, the beasts described in the following pages. I have visited lairs, burrows, and nests across five continents, observed the curious habits of magical beasts in a hundred countries, witnessed their powers, gained their trust and, on occasion, beaten them off with my travelling kettle.

Now that has the potential for a film series. Those are adventures that I’m positively thrilled to see on the big screen. Do you agree? Do you think I set aside the other options too lightly? Share your opinions in the comments.