Fantastic Beasts is an Urban Fantasy film series set in the Harry Potter Expanded Universe (which was rebranded as Wizarding World in 2016). The films are essentially prequels to the Harry Potter books and films and the first two were exclusively written for the silver screen by J. K. Rowling with Steve Kloves co-writing the third instalment. David Yates, director of the second half of the Harry Potter film saga, has helmed every film in it. Most of the namesake fantastic beasts are based on the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The films start in the 1920s and follow the adventures of British magizoologist Newt Scamander (the In-Universe author of the aforementioned book) and his friends, the regular human Jacob Kowalski and two American witches, Porpentina and Queenie Goldstein. Together with their allies and the help of some magical creatures Newt tamed, they witness and face the rise of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
The series's large ensemble core cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Johnny Depp note , Zoë Kravitz, Jude Law, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Poppy Corby-Tuech, William Nadylam, Claudia Kim, Mads Mikkelsen note , and Richard Coyle.
The series was originally intended to have five installments but as of October 2023, its future remains in limbo both due to the corporate restructuring of Warner Bros. Discovery and the general chaos Hollywood has gone through in the 2020s from first the COVID-19 pandemic and then the 2023 Writers and Actors Strikes. note
It has its own character sheet.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18, 2016)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16, 2018)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (April 15, 2022)
Fantastic Beasts contains examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: Like its parents series, wizards' names are a mishmash of normal and odd ones. They run the gamut from common names like Yusuf and Irma to ones like Porpentina and Theseus.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: The magical creatures Newt keeps in his zoos come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
- Artifact Title: As soon as the first film, it's pretty clear that the namesake creatures are not the main focus. It's even more clear with the second film.
- Backported Development: As the Harry Potter films went along, the architecture of Hogwarts kept getting altered. Despite being prequels, the Fantastic Beasts films use the Deathly Hallows version of the castle.
- Based on an Advice Book: Half this spinoff franchise's title and many of the namesake beasts (as well as the full title of the first film) are based on a fictional guide for magical beasts with nothing resembling a plot in it.
- Beta Couple: Due to the series, using Newt as a Supporting Protagonist, there are actually two of these. The series is, at is core, a love story between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald. It’s not a love story that ends happily but their relationship is the driver of the story. Newt and Tina, who do end up together, could be considered the first beta couple. They aren’t together yet but the third film ends with them headed down that path. The next most important couple behind them are Queenie and Jacob. The conflict between the two of them not being able to be together originally pushes Queenie into Grindelwald’s arms but she sees the errors of her ways eventually with the third movie ending with their wedding. However, unlike the two more important couples, we do not know how their story ends.
- Big Bad: The dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is the series' main antagonist. He's enough of a threat for both the British Ministry of Magic and MACUSA to dread him, his goal is to establish wizard supremacy over muggles, and he is the archenemy of Albus Dumbledore.
- Canon Welding: To an extent. The films combine the canon of the original books with the visual aesthetic (and the odd Mythology Gag) from the movies — probably because the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films share a production designer, and the lead graphic designer of Fantastic Beasts has been with the franchise since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Not to mention director David Yates, who has directed every Wizarding World film since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
- Continuity Nod: A lot of them, the most obvious being mentions (and, as of the second film, scenes) of Hogwarts.
- Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Well, prequel, but Grindelwald is a very different villain than Voldemort. In essence, Grindelwald is a less evil Well-Intentioned Extremist who who believes his cause gives him free rein to commit atrocities whereas Voldemort was a madman who wanted power for power's sake and implicitly never cared about the cause he championed.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character:
- Contrasting "Prequel" Main Character. Harry Potter is quite unacademic (including not being particularly interested in magical beasts), gregarious, and completely new to magic, and struggles with the pressure of being The Chosen One, serving as an access character and a classic hero. Newt Scamander is an adult skilled in magic and focuses on magical beasts studies, using them to solve problems, has No Social Skills, and is just an ordinary guy at the time dragged into a magical conspiracy that has nothing to do with him, because the audience already knows about the wizarding world and Newt genuinely doesn't have that huge a role in magical history outside improving knowledge and care of magical beasts.
- On larger scale, this series is much more of an ensemble piece with three main characters via the use of Newt as a Supporting Protagonist than the books whose focus was mostly entirely on Harry.
- Contrasting Sequel Setting: In contrast to the British wizarding school of the original Harry Potter films, these films take place not only decades in the past, but focus on adult wizards in other places outside the UK like the US, France, Germany, China, and Bhutan (though Hogwarts and the British Ministry of Magic do make appearances).
- Experienced Protagonist: Contrary to Harry Potter, who was a young student of magic, Newt Scamander is already an experienced wizard and an adult when the series starts.
- Foregone Conclusion: No matter what happens, Grindelwald will still live in the end, as he is still alive (but locked up) as of the Harry Potter saga. Although he will eventually be brought down.
- Genre Shift: From Bildungsroman in the Harry Potter films to a greater focus on Urban Fantasy.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Most of the various namesake fantastic beasts borrow multiple features to Real Life animals.
- More Diverse Sequel: Due to the setting moving outside of the scope of the UK (which is still about 90% white today), the cast of this series is more racially diverse than Harry Potter. The American characters include the Ambiguously Jewish Goldstein sisters and Seraphina Picquery and Eulalie Hicks, both of whom are black women. Other characters include the Indonesian Nagini note , half-siblings Leta Lestrange and Yusuf Kama who are of Senegalese descent (though Leta's father was white), the Brazilian Vicencia Santos, and the Chinese Liu Tao, among others. Outside racial diversity, the series also focuses on the homosexual relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, which for various reasons was only really implied to have happened in Harry Potter and Newt is portrayed (but never outright confirmed) as having an Autism spectrum disorder.
- Period Piece: The series is set between 1926 and 1945, and so far incorporates flashbacks to the 1890s, 1900s, and 1910s.
- Predecessor Villain: Gellert Grindelwald is this to Voldemort, with his ambitions to reshape the wizarding world more to his twisted liking. And his followers are this to the Death Eaters.
- Prequel: The film series takes place several decades before the birth of Harry Potter, with some old enough characters such as Albus Dumbledore (and Grindelwald himself) showing up as their younger selves. It's essentially about the Great Wizarding War, as well as the Second World War, and is set in the first half of the 20th century, with wizarding supremacists led by Grindelwald on one side and a rag-tag group of resistance fighters presumably led by Dumbledore on the other. The repercussions of said conflict would lead to the rise of Voldemort in the 1970s and 1990s, a conflict in which Harry Potter and the wider British wizarding community has a central role.
- Saved by Canon: Newt, Tina, Dumbledore, Grindelwald, Nagini, and Aberforth will all survive this series. Newt and Tina are still alive today and Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and Nagini will live another seventy-plus years past the series's start. Aberforth managed to survive the books too.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: Or "Prequels go foreign", more exactly. The original Harry Potter books and films all took place in the United Kingdom, while Fantastic Beasts shows off different parts of the world.
- The first Fantastic Beasts is entirely set in New York City, USA.
- The bulk of The Crimes of Grindelwald is set in Paris, France. New York City is also featured again, along with the UK, and Austria is seen briefly at the end.
- The Secrets of Dumbledore includes the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Bhutan, and a briefly seen China.
- Time Skip: The first two films take place within about nine months of each other (December 1926 and September 1927), but the third film skips ahead in time to 1932.
- Token Good Cops: Most magical law enforcers in both England and America, while not actively corrupt, are overly draconian or overlook serious threats, but Tina Goldstein in America and Theseus Scamander and Leta Lestrange in England are proactive about stopping threats and fair-minded in their views of complex situations.
- Worldbuilding: The films aim at expanding the Wizarding World by featuring other locations and wizards than just those of the United Kingdom, which was where most of the action of the Harry Potter books and films was set, thus averting Creator Provincialism.