- The film has a twist that Percival Graves is actually Grindelwald in disguise. Given that Queenie, an Empath/Leglimencer, is working for the MACUSA and possibly had contact with him, why wouldn't she have noticed that something was up? Because early in the film, she mentions that she has a difficult time "reading" foreigners, even from the UK like Newt. Grindelwald's from central/eastern Europe (he's from Durmstrang, which is in (north-)eastern Europe, not to mention his first name, Gellert/Gellért, is the Hungarian version of Gerard), thus he's not even a native English speaker, making him as good as impossible for her to read if she even has trouble reading a native English speaker that happens to have a U.K. accent. Not to mention that it's known that Grindelwald had practiced occlumency.
- American wizards have their own jargon, distinct from the Brits; for example, a non-wizard is called a "No-Maj", not a "Muggle". So why do they use the very British "Squib" for a no-maj born to a wizard family? Well, the only person we hear use the term is Percival, who is the eastern-European Grindelwald in disguise, and may well be using the British term by mistake.
- The distinction between American Wizard jargon and British wizard jargon reflects what happens to their muggle counterparts. The word for "non-magical person" is different, but the word for "non-magical person of magical heritage" may or may not be different. "Auror" is used by both. Loan words drift back and forth.
- The Obscurus attacking Henry Shaw seems
contrived, isn't it? Note that he told off the Barebones family
specifically Credence, calling him a freak. It's Personal.
- Newt's suitcase has a switch on one of the locks that turns it into a seemingly-normal suitcase in case Muggles get curious. You'd think it'd be best to keep it this way all the time, presuming it keeps any beasts from escaping. Of course, the switch happens to be on the lock that keeps coming loose.
- Percival Graves uses nothing but wandless magic for most of the film, only using his wand a couple of times near the end. This becomes clear why at the end when you find out Grindelwald has disguised himself as the real Percival Graves this whole time. Part of the ruse was to use Graves' wand to complete the illusion, but given what we know about wandlore, the wand may not have worked properly for him as he was not the owner. The wand he actually has, assuming no retcon occurred, is the Elder Wand, an extremely famous artifact. Thus, he is using wandless magic to make sure the wand not working well for him doesn't give up the ruse, as well as hiding his ownership of Elder Wand.
- Also, the fact that canonically, he possesses the Elder Wand, explains why he is powerful enough to tank spells from several dozen Aurors at once at the end of the movie.
- Graves and Newt at the MACUSA:
- Graves' sudden silence when Newt says he isn't "one of Grindelwald's fanatics" (followed by an immediate death sentence) is a given. Newt basically spat in his face with that sentence and of course the man took offense.
- In a slightly different interpretation, the whole interrogation was Graves/Grindelwald trying to figure out if Newt was sent there specifically to meet him. The man has ties to both Dumbledore and a Lestrange, and is carrying an Obscurus in his suitcase, the thing Grindelwald is specifically looking for in America. For all he knew, this could mean that Albus was trying to help him out once more. When he finds out that this isn't the case at all, he immediately decides to throw Newt under the bus as a scapegoat to throw the aurors off the real problem.
- Also, when Newt tells Tina and Graves that he kept the Sudanese Obscurus for research, and that it can't hurt anyone, Graves then asks if it is useless without the host. After Newt questions why he is calling it "useless" ("That is a destructive magical parasite that killed a child, what on earth would you use it for?"), Graves sentences Newt and Tina to death on the spot. Why? He Knows Too Much.
- The way he asks Newt why Dumbledore is so fond of him comes off with a tinge of jealousy. Why would the greatest wizard on Earth like someone he (Graves) sees as so inferior and not him? Gee, wonder who used to be friends with him and then pushed him away when he attacked his siblings? This also mirrors Abeforth's claims that Grindelwald only has time for people he sees as his equal.
- Newt's story of the history of the Obscurus states that they were created a lot by the environment of hatred that abounded in the world during the age of the witch-hunts. We also know that it's around this time that the wizarding community chose to go into hiding. It's entirely possible that they did this specifically in order to foster an environment where their children wouldn't become Obscurials or have to face the fear of losing them in case the witch-hunters found them, as The Tales of Beedle the Bard states that most of the real witches and wizards that were found, caught, and killed were children.
- Jacob's memories:
- At first, it might seem like a cop-out that Jacob, having had his memory wiped, still possibly remembers at least some of the creatures and Queenie at the end of the film but then again, he wasn't Obliviated, which generally requires torture to break, but instead exposed to an experimental potion, which has the potential for not doing as effective a job as a memory charm. Additionally, it was stated that the potion got rid of bad memories Queenie didn't really give him any bad memories, and if she did, he would have forgotten them, but not Queenie overall.
- Not to mention that in the 4th book, it's briefly talked about how in order to get a Muggle to forget a strong memory, it needs a lot of power and leaves them disorientated for a while. Jacob got the same wipe that everyone got. But unlike everyone else, he had seen (and interacted with) strong magic for at least a day. Not to mention he saw the creatures, sat in on a MACUSA meeting, and learned quite a bit about Wizard history over that dinner. A general wipe may be able to push it down, but as soon as anything is strongly prompted, it's going to flood back. The memory charm wasn't specific enough.
- It's also possible that the bite he received towards the beginning of the film made him resistant to the potion. Subtle biological differences and all that. Plus, Newt gave him an antidote. It could have still been in his system.
- Of course Modesty isn't the Obscurus. She has a wand even if she does have magic, she's aware that it exists and not trying to repress it like Obscuri do. Obscuri seem to be people who repress their magic so hard they don't even know they had it, like Credence.
- How Newt tries to approach Credence in full-blown Obscurus mode: he speaks softly, puts his wand away, and makes himself as non-threatening as possible. He basically acts as if Credence is a wounded, defensive creature.
- The existence of Obscuri makes Salazar Slytherin and Godric Gryffindor's falling out over Muggle-borns seem rather more sensible. Salazar's view was not because of Fantastic Racism; it's because Hogwarts was founded at a time when magic-users were persecuted. And a Muggle-born child is more likely to be an Obscurial, due to supressing their own magic from fear of persecution, than one born from a pure-blood family. If one "went nuclear", so to speak, the Obscurus could do a great deal of damage and attract witch-hunters. Conversely, Godric's argument was that, if they found the Muggle-borns in time, they could prevent the creation of more Obscuri.
- The fact that Obscurials generally don't live longer than the age of ten might be a reason why Hogwarts students aren't recruited until age eleven it means they won't accidentally bring in an Obscurial who would Freak Out and "go off" like a bomb.
- The "and Where to Find Them" part of the film's title has raised some eyebrows as not making much sense. If you think about it, it didn't make much sense in the title of the textbook either, even if every beast's entry does tell you where the creature lives. But here, we discover that Newt Scamander was in Hufflepuff House, and what's the mark of a true Hufflepuff? Oddly and constantly emphasizing the concept of finding. It's canon! Okay, the title of the textbook dates back to the first Potter book and therefore obviously predates that particular bit of fanon, but revealing Newt as a Hufflepuff certainly does make the title really click in the heads of anyone familiar with the fanwork of legend from which it originated.
- Newt is shown as extremely good with the Reparo charm, being able to fix Jacob's house in seconds. Obviously, as someone who deals with dangerous creatures, he is probably used to having to fix a lot of damage.
- Newt is clearly played as being on the Autism spectrum, most notably almost never making eye contact with anyone without a visible effort. It just so happens that many animals, especially large dangerous predators, see looking directly at them as a threat and/or challenge. Newt's natural body language is perfect for someone who spends his life working with beasts. Perhaps he's an ancestor or relative of Dr. Temple Grandin, also autistic and known for having a unique insight into how animals think and feel.
- It's either this or he's developed those habits due to the amount of time he spends finding Beasts, and finds them hard to shake off when he returns to civilization, like many of his real-world counterparts do. He was Going Native so to speak.
- Grindelwald's bizarre appearance is probably due to his disguise and subsequent dispelling of said disguise by Newt being incomplete.
- It seems almost like an Anvilicious moral to feature a Madame President, as well as state that there were multiple, dating back to at least the 18th century. But one reason for the societal expectations for women at that time of history was religious Wizards and Witches didn't follow that, making it easier for women to be given the right to vote or hold office. Additionally, the societal vision of a perfect woman would also help lend to the Masquerade most wouldn't bat an eyelash at a woman dressing the way they were expected to at the time, and to a Puritan, the idea of a woman holding an elected office would be so outrageous they would think you are making up nonsense.
- There is also the rationale that magic is a great equalizer: Potterverse magic and therefore one's individual power isn't related to one's sex, unlike the mundane culture where, prior to modern firearms, the average man is going to have a distinct advantage over the average woman when it comes to physical violence. This would tend to make men more likely to be in charge because they had the advantage in the use of violence to impose power, which eventually gets baked into the larger culture. Magical society would not have had that unequal distribution of power and so people would have easily accepted a woman being in charge.
- This isn't really such a strange thing for America, though. Puritan missionaries in what became the United States started stretching the idea of 'women's roles' to allow for leadership in the church, and much of what people believe about Puritans and both sex and gender was actually more correctly ascribed to Victorians, particularly those who were British and upper-class. On the other hand, the first woman presidential candidate was placed on official ballots in the United States for the 1884 and 1888 elections. (This would be Belva Ann Lockwood.)
- The Diricawl◊ doesn't look much like a real dodo. Is this a case of Artistic License Ornithology? Maybe, but it could also be that the memories of Muggles have been tampered with after the bird's apparent extinction, to make the dodo seem more "ordinary" to them.
- The idea that Obscurials form from abuse and the suppression of magical powers explains some Fridge Logic of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Why would Hogwarts go through the trouble of literally flooding the Dursley house with letters telling Harry that he's been accepted to Hogwarts? Because the wizarding world, and especially Albus Dumbledore, know exactly how dangerous it is to have someone suppress their powers. Furthermore, if he had even the slightest idea of the abuse Harry was going through, and how powerful Harry is, he knew that they had to get him into school or else it could end horribly for Harry and everyone around him.
- It also suggests that there's another reason why Mrs. Figg the Squib was assigned to live near the Dursleys and act as Harry's babysitter. You can bet that all the times she was showing him photos of her cats, she was keeping an eye on his reactions to being frustrated, just in case any signs of repressed power roiling inside him became evident.
- In this movie, wizards and witches use their magic much more freely, and in more extravagant ways, like rebuilding houses, creating domed shields for containment, and sometimes rebuilding entire street blocks, than compared to the original 8 movies. This is because this takes place in the 1920's, where the Internet, social media, personal phones, and phone cameras haven't been invented yet, so wizards and witches can practice magic more freely because sightings are much easier to contain. The comparatively subdued nature of the Harry Potter series proper probably comes from a gradual change in wizarding society that toned down public displays of magic as cameras became more widespread and smaller.
- As Smilin' Jack said about another Masquerade: "We're living in the age of camera cell-phones. [Screw]-ups ain't tolerated."
- The film can be criticized a bit for the fact that Graves sentences Tina and Newt to death and the sentence is almost carried out within the hour, which to us seems ridiculously quick given that death sentences in the real world take years, even decades, especially since it was on the orders of one man with little evidence and no trial. However, this movie shows that MCUSA is in a bit of crisis with the Obscurial loose, and is naturally quick to deal with things, hence their extremely fast reaction to Credence running loose in the city, mobilizing dozens of Aurors in minutes, and putting up a protective shield to keep Credence contained (as much good as that did).
- This movie outlines how MCUSA's method of moving quickly on problems contrasts with the Ministry of Magic's slower approaches in the Harry Potter movies. In the movies and books, the M.O.M. is shown as feckless and useless, focusing on covering up Voldemort's actions rather than acting. MCUSA instead focuses on solving the problem, with cleanup/secrecy as a secondary consideration. On the one hand, this mentality of "shoot first ask questions later" can lead to needless death, which could be another explanation for why Graves thinks he can get away with sentencing two people to death under false terms, and is why they end up killing Credence (or so they think) despite Mr. Scamander telling them that he could stop him. On the other hand, despite the fact that they had to kill a child, MCUSA contained the problem and kept him from hurting more people, which, if Newt wasn't there, would've been their only option, so their methods, while brutal, are effective. Furthermore, when Graves looks like he's going off of the deep end, they avert Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?, and try to take him in (well, they try to take him in; if it wasn't for Mr. Scamander, Grindelwald likely would've killed them all, but that wasn't for lack of effort on MCUSA's part).
- This movie might be why the Ministry is so ineffective in the books and movies. After such a fiasco that nearly blows the lid on the wizarding world, they probably realized that they need to spend more effort on hiding problems from the Muggles rather than just taking care of problems. Unfortunately, the Ministry takes this a step too far, with Fudge hiding problems from his own people too to save his skin politically.
- The sudden appearance of Credence's Obscurus a month before is because he was Obliviated after Tina attacked Mary Lou for abusing him. He controlled the Obscurus until then, but after forgetting about it, he became unable to control it and unleashed it upon New York.
- The very high level of physical demonstrativeness that Graves displays towards Credence. If Grindelwald was as touchy-feely with Dumbledore then it makes even more sense that the latter became so infatuated. We do not know a great deal about how wizarding society has treated homosexuality down the centuries. But it is fairly safe to say that in the 19th Century, this kind of behavior would be regarded as a romantic overture.
- An entry on the main page points to the fact that the "final" version of the Fantastic Creatures text In-Universe makes no mention of creatures that are shown in this movie. This makes sense, as Newt explains a few of them are almost extinct. The "modern" version (50th edition) of this book in Harry's time doesn't have these entries, because in the 70 years of this movie's timeline, those animals have ceased to exist (doubles as Fridge Horror in that for all of Newt's effort, some animals just ceased to be). A book that chronicles care and feeding of magical animals isn't going to waste space on ones that no longer exist, much like a modern zoo manual for animal care won't contain chapters on saber-tooth tigers and the dodo.
- Frankly, there is an explanation: They weren't relevant. Many species native to North America that are extant, like the Wampus Cat, weren't mentioned. They just weren't relevant to the school book.
- The updated version of the out-of-Verse Fantastic Creatures states that several North American species were omitted at the MACUSA government's request, to discourage foreign wizards from coming to look for them and further imperiling The Masquerade.
- Remember Gnarlack's fingers? That's not part of his magical anatomy they are broken. It's one of the punishments among thieves for ratting on your fellows. Nice foreshadowing of his scheme.
- Grindelwald used human Transfiguration to become Percival Graves, which is undone by Newt's Revelio spell. Who's willing to bet that an Animagus' transformation falls under the same category, and that in Prisoner Of Azkaban, it was Revelio that Lupin and Sirius used to turn Scabbers into Pettigrew?
- Immediately after Jacob was Accio'ed by Newt, and the Occamy egg hatches, Hedwig's Theme softly plays in the background, symbolizing Jacob's dawning knowledge of magic. Welcome to the wizarding world, Mr. Kowalski.
- Newt doesn't realize that an Occamy got out of his trunk because "he must've miscounted". Of course he did one hatched the very same day the breakout occurred. He counted how many he knew to be in the trunk, forgetting to account for the brand new one.
- Muggle-magical marriages are illegal in America through the 1960s. Had it been so in the UK, Voldemort wouldn't have existed. Perhaps if his parentage and his identity had been more widely known, there might have been an effort to ban Muggle-magical marriages.
- Nifflers appear in the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where Hagrid's lesson with them involves each student picking a Niffler, sending it out for some leprechaun gold Hagrid buried near his house, and the Niffler bringing the gold back to the student, the student whose Niffler brings back the most gets a special prize. Now, the Niffler in this film most emphatically will not part with shinies he's found. Part of the drift between films and books, or just a glaring continuity error, right? Nope. Newt interacts very successfully with his creatures, but they are certainly not tamed, trained, or domesticated. His Niffler is acting according to its natural instincts. Hagrid's Nifflers some forty years later were very well-trained to retrieve, but not hoard, shiny objects. Even better: Newt's response when asked if he's writing "an extermination guide" is that his book is to help wizards understand magical creatures and why they should be protected, not killed. Newt's book likely led to learning how to train Nifflers to recover treasure instead of hoarding it.
- In the U.S., wizards are not allowed to fraternize with no-majs. This means that a Muggle-born wizard/witch would have an entire family with whom s/he would be forbidden to interact. How does the magical community get these children to Ilvermorny and obey the law? In all likelihood, officials of the MACUSA abduct them.
- Worse is if they are born into members of the New Salem Philanthropic Society. How many Muggle-born children become Obscuri?
- If you read supplementary material on Pottermore, you'll know that the American wizard school, Ilvermorny, was co-founded by a no-maj who married a witch. What would he have to say about such laws? And how exactly has MACUSA come to view him?
- Remember how Hermoine removed every trace of herself from her family with (apparently) just a single spell in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? She did it herself to keep them safe, but MACUSA would do it to a family, and child, that did not. One word, one wave a wand, a whole person effectively erased from memory, photos, existence, to be raised wholly within the Wizarding World. How many adult Wizards in the USA miss families they haven't seen in decades? Or worse... how many of those Wizards were Obliviated themselves as children and placed in Wizard families, forgetting completely the No-Majs who birthed and raised them the early years of their lives? Are Tina and Queenie even really sisters?!?
- The very fact the law against intermarriage exists means that the U.S. is in practice even more Pureblood obsessed than even Book 7-era England. Even under Voldemort, they hadn't managed to actually pass laws against intermarriage.
- To anyone caught up on the Harry Potter books, the origin of the Scourers at first makes no sense, given we were told in an earlier book that the tragedy of the Witch Hunts, from actual wizard perspectives, is that they only killed Muggles, as actual wizards could easily get out of the mess with their magic, to the point that special mention is made of one Nightmare Fetishist witch who repeatedly got herself caught and burned because she enjoyed the sensation of flames under a Fire-Freezing Spell so much. The realization, and the dawning horror, is that the book was likely referring to the European Witch Hunts, which was purely an outburst of Muggle insanity and callous profiteering (see: the Witch Finder General). In America's Salem Witch Hunts, however, the whole affair was orchestrated by actual wizards, so those wizards and witches who got caught were probably attacked and rendered helpless by their own people first. Also, no Fire-Freezing Spell is going to save someone who's being hanged, which was the execution method used at Salem Village.
- An Obscurus is what happens when a young witch or wizard experiences some kind of trauma that causes them to unconsciously suppress their magical abilities. This causes dark magic to build up inside them until it breaks out and attacks people, like an evil, magical split-personality. Now, what happened to Ariana Dumbledore?
- Grindelwald knew Ariana. He probably saw her raw destructive power first-hand. Casts another light on his search for the Obscurus, doesn't it?
- Try re-reading the first Harry Potter book with the knowledge of what abuse can do to young wizards.
- The MACUSA officials mention that there hasn't been an Obscurial in over a century. Newt encountered one that they evidently hadn't heard of a few years recently in Sudan. How many other Obscurials have there been that people don't know about? Is it because of them happening in faraway places, or because of cover-ups similar to what happens with other exposures of magic to the Muggle world?
- The lion that escaped from Central Park Zoo. After Newt and Jacob disapparate, the policemen likely gunned down the animal.
- Not to mention how many animals that escaped, or whose exhibits were damaged and left exposed to the elements by the erumpent's blundering, may have frozen to death without the benefit of the zoo's heat sources.
- The film is set in 1926, which means that Jacob's bakery only has a couple years (or less due to the implied timeskip) before The Great Depression hits. Even if it doesn't impact the place directly, there's still gonna be some tough times ahead.
- For that matter, The Great Depression is also only a couple years away from the setting one can only imagine what kind of trouble seeped into the wizarding world at the time (especially MACUSA) since their events have a tendency to mirror the Muggle/no-maj's world to an extent.
- Let's add that the story will continue until World War II, where there was a shortage of materials to help the war effort. Also, Jacob is just the right age to fight again in that war.
- Apparently, agents of MACUSA are allowed to order executions without benefit of trial on the basis of one brief interview. Makes one wonder who else they might have killed if that's all it takes.
- The only time we actually see this happen is when Grindelwald was posing as Percival Graves and interrogating people who were on his trail. Plus, he could have used the Imperius Curse on any officials he needed to. This just makes it worse; one of the worst dark wizards in history had this kind of authority.
- The method of execution, a pool of magic acid, would not leave a corpse behind. Grindle-Graves could have Imperiused the Aurors (Tina's colleagues and friends) into executing Tina and Newt, then Obliviated them to erase any memory of it, or even implanting a false memory of them escaping, and there'd be nothing to hint at what really happened. Even worse, he may well have already done this with other witches and wizards who stood in his way!
- And on one level, this was supposed to be an indication that MACUSA had
issues when compared to the Ministry of Magic, and may have been more backwards in some ways. But don't forget: about fifty years later, British Aurors were given license to use Unforgivable Curses in their attempt(s) to apprehend anyone they suspected of being a Dark wizard. And the Ministry's official method of capital punishment until at least 1998note was to hand someone over to the Dementor's Kiss. Yikes.
- Credence's mother beats him with his own belt.
- We see Tina's memory of her defending Credence from Mary Lou, and she treats him kindly and cares for his injuries—but because he was Obliviated, along with Mary Lou and the other witnesses to maintain the facade of secrecy, he's forgotten about it. It was probably the first time someone's treated Credence kindly since he was old enough to remember, and he can't remember it.
The question remains whether Percival Graves was ever a real person or just an alternate identity for Grindelwald
. It would make things much easier if it were the former; the Wizarding World tends to know, or at least know of, everyone else. If the latter were true, it would require a lot of forging records of Ilvermorny attendance, previous jobs, etc. that any random wizard could potentially look at and smell a rat. Which would in turn require a lot
of Imperius curses to keep up The Masquerade
, more than could possibly be practical, or even possible, to keep up, even for someone of Grindelwald's abilities. Impersonating a real person, rather than coming up with and trying to maintain a new identity from scratch,
would be much less effort and be less likely to go wrong.