The Loch Ness Monster is really just a Kelpie that shape-shifts into a sea serpent when it wants to. Before the legend of Nessie became popular, a Kelpie was what people originally believed lived in Loch Ness. The fact that a Kelpie is having fun messing with Muggles by letting them see it, then changing into something entirely different when they come searching. It is literally the ultimate magical troll creature.
The only record of a Chimera being killed "led to the unlucky wizard in question falling from his winged horse".note In the original legend, after slaying it while riding the winged horse Pegasus, Bellerophon tried to fly to Mount Olympus (where the gods lived). Guess how well that turned out for him?
The names of several of the winged horse breeds are taken from the names of mythical horses:
Abraxan and Aethonian: From Abraxus and Aethon, the horses that pulled the chariot of Helios, the Greek sun god.
Granian: from Grani, the steed of Sigurd in the Volsunga Saga, and a descendant of Sleipnir.
The Nundu's diseased breath is a dark take on the ancient European belief that the panther hunts by using its scented breath to lure in prey.
Modesty. Is she actually descended from witches and wizards and her wand real? Or was her wand just a toy and she's just a Red Herring? Official material, like the screenplay, states that the wand was just a toy, so take that as you will.
The Reveal that Graves is actually Grindelwald leaves many of his actions open to multiple interpretations:
Graves' relationship with Credence. On one hand, Grindelwald!Graves acts supporting towards Credence and seems upset when MACUSA destroys him, demanding to know who their laws really protect. On the other, he was quick to throw Credence away when he failed him, only showing him care again when Credence reveals that he's the Obscurial. Did Grindelwald care about Credence at all, or did he only see him as a tool? There is also the question of whether the original Graves knew Credence, and if Grindelwald was building off an existing connection.
Graves seeming sympathetic towards Tina earlier on. Was this just Grindelwald staying in-character as Graves? Or did he see genuine potential (or a possible ally) in Tina, since she had previously assaulted a Muggle and had a known dislike of the New Salem Philanthropic Society? Another possibility that's given credence in the sequel is that he was trying to use Tina to get to Queenie, knowing what a powerful legilimens she is.
The interrogation scene, in particular, is open to many interpretations. The first thing he asks Newt is why Dumbledore is so fond of him? Is he trying to size up Newt because if such a great wizard likes him, he must be amazing? Is it an Evil Cannot Comprehend Good kind of deal? Is he genuinely baffled that the greatest wizard in the world considers a socially awkward Fluffy TamerNice Guy like Newt to be worthy of his time? Is he jealous that someone he views as inferior as Newt is in Dumbledore's good books and he's not? This theory is also supported by the second movie, as he similarly comes off as jealous when he talks to Newt about him. Is he trying to see if Newt was sent there specifically to meet him? Is he trying to see if Newt is sympathetic to his cause? When Newt says he's not a fanatic, he sentences him and Tina to death. Is he trying to scapegoat them after he slipped up and said too much to throw the rest of MACUSA off the scent? Is he petty enough to do something like that because Newt unknowingly insulted him? Is it a bit off all that?
Similarly, Graves looked distressed upon ordering the execution of Newt and Tina. Was Grindelwald still caught up in the role of Graves? Did he genuinely regret ordering the death of two young, powerful, and promising wizards who essentially only got caught up in his schemes by accident? Was he just annoyed at another complication in his plans?
The concept of the Obscurus bears several similarities to the story of Ariana Dumbledore, who also had repressed her magic after a traumatic event and could be downright dangerous if she lost control of her powers. It may also be another reason why Grindelwald!Graves approached Credence in the first place in order to investigate the possibility of Obscurials in New York City.
The very calm and unquestioning executioners. They may have had total trust in Graves' judgement. Alternatively, they might have been placed under the Imperius Curse, as Grindelwald!Graves did not seem worried that they overheard his slip while talking to Newt. Furthermore, it's possible that they're willing accomplices/followers of Grindlewald that are just trying to help him get rid of Newt and Tina for interfering in his stratagems.
Gnarlack's betrayal of Newt and the others is, as far as he knows, him informing the authorities on the location of four wanted criminals planning to start a war between wizards and muggles. Even Evil Has Standards, or perhaps Pragmatic Villainy? Either way, he's perhaps not as bad as you'd first think. Of course, he might have simply wanted to play both sides against each other and get the reward from both of them.
Angst? What Angst?: Both Newt and Tina have very personal reasons for wanting to save Credence. Newt, because Credence is an Obscurial, and the last one Newt tried and failed to save was a little girl. Tina, because she was demoted from auror specifically because she saved Credence from his adopted mother's abuse during one of Mary Lou's sermons, necessitating all No-Majs present to have their memories wiped. Yet when their attempts to save him are thwarted when President Picquery has Credence killed, Graves shows more anger and regret at his death than either of them (though Newt does see a wisp of the Obscurus flee the scene, so it is possible that Newt didn't react much because he knew or suspected that Credence was still alive).
Anvilicious: Some fans take issue with the film's portrayal of Wizarding America and Rowling's worldbuilding notes on Pottermore, arguing that they play up the worst elements of US culture and history (sex scandals, witch trials, strict segregation, a xenophobic government and populace, a cruel death penalty with too little judicial oversight) with little subtlety or nuance, making Wizarding Britainnote Azkaban, a clueless Minister and inept Ministry, Death Eaters, Dementors and their kisses, and much more look vastly more enlightened by comparison. Others may agree with several of Rowling's points, but think they could have been toned down just a bit or at least better executed.
The decision to expand what was originally planned as a three-film saga into a five-film saga. Aside from the most obvious reasons that they'd want to stretch this series out, one of the biggest complaints against the film is that the amount of exposition relative to the amount of action it has wore it down to some degree. Telling a story over a greater number of films would allow for the story to have more room to breathe while also leaving more room for action sequences. The inclusion of Grindelwald's rise to power makes the decision for several movies even more plausible, as it allows him to be shown as a powerful threat, with people waiting on his duel with Dumbledore in 1945.
The Obliviate Curse is treated here as a pretty terrible thing, which many fans had thought since the original books, especially since it was shown to cause brain damage if done too much, or if badly cast. Jacob's memory being erased at the end is one of the film's saddest scenes.
One of the main characters being a Muggle. This means we finally get to see the world of Harry Potter universe from the viewpoint of a Muggle. Not to mention said Muggle is a nice and open-minded man, unlike the xenophobic Dursleys. Furthermore, in the previous books and films, the Wizarding World, including the heroes, tended to treat Muggles as inferior to them and without any respect. Here Jacob not only pulls his own weight throughout the adventure, he's even able to help out by using mundane solutions that the wizards don't even think of.
The extreme ease with which Newt or the Aurors are able to repair buildings devastated by the Obscurus attacks provides a back-door explanation for how the Burrow, dramatically burned to ashes by the Death Eaters in the Half-Blood Prince movie (though not the book), reappears unscathed by Deathly Hallows.
Awesome Music: Not only does the classic Harry Potter theme return, but the film's soundtrack is just gorgeous and really helps inject a fittingly jazzy undertone to the film.
Award Snub: Was nominated for an Oscar for Best Production Design, but lost to La La Land. It beat that film for Best Costume Design, though.
The usual handful of people have taken issue with the lack of diversity in the casting choices of the main characters, especially since the film is not based on a book. Others have insisted that it isn't really that much of an issue because of the varied background characters in the trailer and it's justified since the population of New York City in the 1920s was about 95% white.
One point of excitement is that we've finally been given an opportunity to see the rest of the world, not bound to the Trio and Voldemort's story. Others have been a little more skeptical, and wanted the movie to take place in different locations around the world.
Captain Obvious Reveal: Grindelwald is the Big Bad was this to some, especially because the fact that he would be played by Johnny Depp leaked out around the time of the film's release.
Epileptic Trees: With the revelation that a look will be taken at the rise of Grindelwald, and that he (and presumably Dumbledore as well) will take on a larger role as the series goes on, some fans are pondering whether we might eventually see the famous duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald for the first time in any medium.
The Niffler is the most popular of Newt's creatures, due to its cuteness and for being genuinely funny too.
Credence, because of his heartbreaking character arc and Ezra Miller's standout performance.
Percival Graves. He's badass, interesting and quite attractive, and gives off a mysterious air.
Fanon: It's generally agreed that, after the many reveals in this film, Ariana Dumbledore made her own Obscurus, and her death was what inspired Grindlewald to go looking for Obscurials in the first place.
Fanfic Fuel: How Newt acquired the many creatures in his care seems rife with narrative possibilities. Furthermore, what else was going on in MACUSA during the Roaring Twenties?
Grindelwald's ridiculous hairdo and makeup do not leave the character with a lot of dignity.
The Barebone family dress more like Puritans or Amish than 1920's New Yorkers and Credence's clothes are too small for him. He also has a bowl haircut that is too short. It's Justified by the fact that that's exactly the vibe they are trying to achieve, while they probably wouldn't care enough about Credence enough to make sure his clothes fit or that his hair looks good.
Colin Farrell as Gellert Grindelwald surprised many viewers with his performance, coming across as mysterious, sinister, and genuinely threatening while also charismatic and even sympathetic at times. Many fans have called for him to take over the role fully from Johnny Depp.
Many audiences were impressed with Eddie Redmayne's endearingly awkward but also mature and impressively intelligent performance as Newt Scamander, with Pop Culture Detective even dedicating an entire episode to praising his character as a refutation of toxic masculinity.
This is also isn't the first time that a character named Newt who likes Fantastic Beasts has gone to Ron Perlman in a somewhat seedy underground location in order to get information.
This isn't the first franchise that had its installments located in its home countrynote Britain for Harry Potter and Japan regions for Pokémon for its first 15 years, then moved to New York and then moved to France.
Jacob and Newt, whose first meeting involves watching an occamy egg hatch together. In the famous suitcase scene, Newt even introduces Jacob to "his" occamy, while referring to himself as their "mummy".
Credence and Graves have more than a few intimate scenes, including one where Graves gives Credence a gift and tells him to call on him "whenever he needs him". He is also incredibly handsy with Credence and usually mere inches from him. They also had a deleted scene in which Graves takes Credence to dinner and gives him a flower. The screenplay adds credencenote I see what you did there to this, describing Credence as "utterly enthralled" with Graves and when he sees him, "everything else is forgotten." The fact that in the books, Grindelwald (who impersonates Graves throughout the movie) was Dumbledore's Closet Key does not help.
It Was His Sled: Johnny Depp's cameo appearance as Grindelwald, which was intended to be a major surprise (albeit one that was hinted at), was spoiled by many outlets a few weeks ahead of the movie's release. Given that his character's presence generated a lot of interest from the fanbase ahead of the movie's release date, and that it directly preceded an increase in opening weekend projections, this might not have been a bad thing. It's actually a downplayed example from the standpoint of the cast and crew, who were afraid that the aforementioned spoiler was going to leak much earlier than it did.
A fair number of Harry Potter fans who weren't particularly interested in the premise of a Potter-free movie set in the universe or were on the fence about the film got on-board at the last minute once it was confirmed that the film would include a cameo from Grindelwald and would lead up to the legendary confrontation between Dumbledore and Grindelwald.
Some fans truly were there just to see the titular beasts. There's a fabulous Thunderbird, after all.
After Pokémon GO came out, many jokes surfaced about how everyone already knows where to find fantastic beasts. One commenter, Kenny Tee on the San Diego Comic Con trailer even called the film "Fantastic Pokémon and Where to Go Find Them".
Thanks to an unfortunate choice of words in the Russian version, the title itself became a meme.note Фантастические твари и где они обитают. The word "твари" indeed can mean "beasts" or "animals", but it is the old meaning which is now almost forgotten. In the modern speech, this word is used to point at someone devoid of any positive qualities.
More Popular Replacement: Newt Scamander replaced the titular Harry Potter as The Hero. While Harry was never hated, many have cited Newt as being a better protagonist and a more interesting character. Fans give points to Newt for crafting his own greatness, while Harry was made great by virtue of being The Chosen One.
Narm: The reveal that Graves is Grindelwald is difficult to take seriously, owing to the character's ridiculous appearance, especially his blond moustache. His confusing "Will we die, just a little?" line didn't help matters.
Narm Charm: Eddie Redmayne's performance as Newt Scamander is remarkably dorky and awkward (as is Katherine Waterston's performance as Tina Goldstein), but it never really stops being incredibly endearing and adorable to watch. Special mention must be given to Newt and Tina's farewell at the film's end, as the awkward and stilted delivery of their dialogue actually helps better sell their attraction to and (now deep) friendship with each other.
Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Subverted. Gellert Grindelwald's involvement in the movie's plot was teased, but never confirmed, until the last few trailers, and his actor was kept a complete secret until journalists who attended early press screenings began questioning on social media what Johnny Depp was doing in the movie.
No Yay: Some of the interactions between Percival Graves/Gellert Grindelwald and Credence Barebone come off as this. Given how close he stands to Credence every time they are together, the way he is always touching his face, hair, or neck, the power imbalance and age difference between them, and the way Grindelwald uses apparent affection to manipulate him, his relationship with Credence takes on pedophilic overtones despite the fact that Credence is ostensibly of age.
Signature Scene: The scene where Newt takes Jacob inside his case and shows him his fantastic menagerie of magical beasts. Most will hold it up (even if they didn't care for the rest of the film or that it was just "eh") as the best scene in the entire movie.
Special Effects Failure: When Newt and Jacob are holding and touching the creatures inside Newt's case, there isn't much of a sense of weight or pressure in their interactions with the creatures, which makes it obvious that the actors are just miming their actions and the CGI creatures were added in post-production.
Mary Lou making Credence take off his own belt so she can beat him with it, hurting him with his own clothes that he wears at his midsection she's essentially emasculating him. Graves going the opposite way and trying to bait him with affection and then rejecting him hard for being a Squib and only using him to find the Obscurial didn't do his psyche any favors.
They Changed It, So It Sucks: Words in this case, as mentioned above, many fans are upset that the word "Muggle" is replaced by "No-Maj." Some take issue with the lack of the word "Muggle;" others simply believe that "No-Maj" is a weak substitute.
The main villain of the series? An American Grindelwald follower Knight Templar who believes that The Masquerade is tyranny, and who manages an epic Villain Has a Point speech? No. The Percival Graves we saw never existed and was Grindelwald in disguise all along, which means we already know how the main villain will be defeated, and that it will not be Newt who beats him. Whereas if Graves had been an original follower or right-hand man to Grindelwald, he could've been built up as a nemesis to either Newt or Tina given his personal connection to both of them, and his fate not a Foregone Conclusion.
The Nundu is described in the book as being possibly the most dangerous magical creature in the world. We do see one briefly, but it's little more than just another creature in Newt's case.
With the movie being called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you'd think it would be more about, well, the fantastic beasts. While Newt and company catching the beasts does play a major part, a large part of the movie is exposition and a subplot that isn't fully explained.
Alternatively, somewhere in the tangle of plots concerning a magical monster loose in New York, Muggles sorry, No-Majs becoming aware of and hostile to the wizarding world and characters questioning the real reasoning behind the masquerade is a compelling story waiting to be told. Though in the film's defense, being a Prequel to the later Harry Potter series means that the Masquerade will obviously be upheld in this series for the sake of continuity.
Trapped by Mountain Lions: Almost the entire subplot about the Shaws is irrelevant to the actual plot; it only serves to supply Credence Barebone with an Asshole Victim in the form of Henry Shaw Jr. Langdon helping the Second Salemers or his implied resentment towards his brother, and Henry Sr.'s anger over his son's death end up going nowhere, even when they're explicitly shown outside the subway during the climax as if they're about to do something. Considering their irrelevance and limited screen time, they're surprisingly well-developed, especially when Henry Jr., the only one to be plot relevant in some way, is little more than a Jerkass politician. Perhaps we'll see more of them in the future?
President Picquery seems meant to be a Reasonable Authority Figure forced into making hard choices. In the film proper, she comes across as a needlessly hostile obstructionist who takes her stress out on Tina. This seems especially true at the second meeting scene wherein Picquery sees proof that a magical creature killing a No-Maj might be linked to the emergency Tina tried to tell her about the day before... then she orders Tina arrested for not telling her sooner, ignoring the fact that the only reason Tina didn't tell her is because Picquery brushed her off. This coupled with her unrepentantly ordering the death of the Obscurus, Credence Barebone, even though Newt and Tina were close to talking him down, and then forcing Jacob Kowalski to have his memories erased regardless of all the help he provided, just make her come across as Lawful Stupid.
Also, much of what the magical creatures do through the course of the film coupled with some of the things said about them makes Newt's "They aren't dangerous!" pleas come off as Blatant Lies to a certain extent, which reflects poorly on Newt. Though in Newt's defense, most of the fantastic beasts are shown to be frustrated and confused by being stuck in an unfamiliar habitat (New York City) and are just lashing out from fear at their surroundings (much like any real-world escaped animal).
Visual Effects of Awesome: The special effects and CGI are very impressive, with the most obvious examples being MACUSA agents rebuilding the devastated New York after the Obscurial rampage and Frank the Thunderbird's epic rainstorm.
Catch someone violating the laws? Why, bring them up to the president directly without regards for her being in a meeting. Or better yet, having no security for said meeting to stop her. Although this is mitigated slightly by the fact that the president seems to be in the Auror office for a meeting with Graves, Tina asks to be taken to "major investigations," rather than directly to the president, and seems surprised to see that Picquery herself is there. This is more an unfortunate series of coincidences than anything else.
Credence Barebone is regularly abused by his mother, mocked with disdain by the Shaws, and only receives any sort of affection from Mr. Graves. Turns out, it isn't Graves at all, but Grindlewald in disguise, who is only using him to find the Obscurial, and then promptly throws him away when he thinks Credence is no longer of any use.
Jacob Kowalski, as he's a former World War 1 veteran struggling to start up his dream business, only to have his hopes dashed at every turn. And when it seems like he might find a happy place for himself in the Wizarding World, he has to have his memory wiped to uphold The Masquerade and lose a chance at being with the woman he loves. Thankfully, the film's last scenes heavily imply that a relationship between him and Queenie could still arise in the future and he's able to finally open his bakery with Newt's help.
Woolseyism: In Japan, the film is titled ファンタスティック・ビーストと魔法使いの旅 (roughly Fantastic Beasts and the Wizard's Journey), following the naming structure of the Potter books and helping to show that this is a new adventure taking place in the same universe. Additionally, the bottom of the kana character ビ is elongated into an Occamy's tail much like the S in Beasts in the English logo.