If this is your first time hearing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you might be a “no-maj”.
Fantastic Beasts is, of course, one of two schoolbooks of Harry’s that J.K. Rowling published in 2001 during the unbearably long wait between Goblet of Fire (published in 2000) and Order of the Phoenix (published in 2003). It’s a very slim volume, as is Quidditch Through the Ages, and yet, Rowling has penned a screenplay that will span three movies about the author of Fantastic Beasts, Newt Scamander. Playing Newt? None other than Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne.
But witches and wizards everywhere probably knew that much already. The word that might look unfamiliar to you, though, is “no-maj”. Well, just as Americans might excuse themselves to use the “john”, whereas the British use the “loo” instead, “no-maj” is the American equivalent of a term that the world has known for years (though we didn’t know it was an exclusively British term): “muggle”. “No-maj” is pronounced “no madge” as in “no magic”.
Reading through some comments on the Entertainment Weekly article explaining the new term, some people are obviously not happy about it. It is a bit blunt and somewhat jarring, whereas “muggle” has always rolled off the tongue, but then, American culture is rather blunt and sometimes jarring, so I think the new term fits.
Other new information (and images) were released this week: first the movie logo, then the EW cover story.
The Movie Logo
Fantastic Beasts has a new website featuring this beautiful new logo! Pottermore, which has evolved into an all-Harry Potter (and by extension Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child) news website, released and wrote about the logo earlier this week. The S certainly appears very dragon-esque (which is reminiscent of the ever-recognizable lightning bolt P in Harry Potter), but there are supposedly other beasts (which make appearances in the films) represented in the other letters.
Entertainment Weekly’s First Look
Which brings us to yesterday, when Entertainment Weekly released this week’s cover photo, plus seven other stills from filming in Leavesden, United Kingdom. These images provide us with our first look at Newt, Tina, Queenie and Jacob in character in 1926 clothing with a 1926 New York backdrop. Serious kudos to the costume and set designers.
One particularly exciting backdrop is the one depicted on the cover: the Magical Congress of the United States of America (or MACUSA), which is the American version of the Ministry of Magic. I mean, those golden phoenix statues, though.
I simply can’t get over that we’re going to see magic in America and during the jazz age. Not only that, but we aren’t going to see students practicing magic at a school of witchcraft and wizardry: we’re going to see adult witches and wizards who have graduated and are now presumably experts at spell-casting. The seventh image is actually my favorite of the bunch, because it apparently shows Queenie preparing to cast a spell while holding the wand in a rather unique way. Normally the Hogwarts students make a fist around their wands. Queenie is holding her wand fairly delicately. Her face, though, seems to show the confidence that she knows what she’s doing, so this is not at all a delicacy that betrays weakness.
These pictures certainly raise more questions than provide answers, though. Why is Newt visiting MACUSA? What other magical locations exist in the United States? Where is the American wizarding school anyway? And what exactly is in Newt’s briefcase? Is it extendable like Hermione’s bag in Deathly Hallows? As it turns out, another Entertainment Weekly article answers that question for us:
Eccentric magizoologist Newt Scamander (Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York (for a reason we won’t disclose) with his trusty weathered case. This case is one of those way-way-way-bigger-on-the-inside magical devices, and within are expansive habitats for a collection of rare and endangered magical creatures from Newt’s travels around globe. He discovers the American wizarding community is fearfully hiding from Muggles and the threat of public exposure is an even graver concern than in the UK (remember the Salem witch trials?). Fantastic Beasts is the story of what happens when this uniquely skilled English wizard travels to wiz-phobic America and a variety of his creatures, some quite dangerous … get out of their case.
Wait a minute. WAIT A MINUTE. Newt collects fantastic beasts in his briefcase and carries them all with him everywhere? And they get out sometimes? I just. I can’t. I need to see this movie. Too bad we have more than a year to wait!
Fantastic Beasts hits theaters on November 18th, 2016. What are you most excited to have answered in the movie? Share your most burning questions in the comments below!