“Secrets of Dumbledore” spoilers: Accio or Impedimenta?

Mar 18, 2022

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

Fantastic Beasts Movie, Films, Films - Trailers, Movies, News, Trailers

Over the last few weeks, Warner Bros. has released various trailers and advertisements for the upcoming release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore that seem to be as revealing as a Quidditch pitch full of angry Veela. They not only contain plot spoilers but also funny or poignant scenes and lines from the film that leave one wondering what is left to be discovered when we finally get to watch the entire movie.

Trailer #1

The trailer-that-maybe-gives-away-too-much has been a growing trend for movies in general, not just in the Potterverse. I have read countless movie reviews that can be summarised as “If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve essentially seen the film.” I do not think we are quite there with Fantastic Beasts. We have not seen Tina, nor much of Queenie, and the trailers have revealed little of Credence’s fate and family history. He is seen in the trailers battling Dumbledore, seemingly as a surrogate for Grindelwald, who urges him on with a line about abandoning his own kind. Given how Credence was treated by Muggles, it is unsurprising that he is susceptible to Grindelwald’s plan to destroy them and put wizardkind above them in his warped and bigoted hierarchy of humanity. What we are expecting from Credence is some sort of realisation that Grindelwald is a megalomaniac and his plan to destroy the Muggle world is wrong, a realisation perhaps helped along by Dumbledore countering Grindelwald’s messaging. The trailers have not shown us if Credence changes sides, nor have they revealed the mystery of his parentage that provided a cliffhanger for the second film, Crimes of Grindelwald. A phoenix, whom we assume to be Fawkes, although he cannot be the only phoenix in the magical world, has featured prominently in the film’s posters. But we saw Credence get that phoenix in the previous movie, so no surprise it is reappearing. But is is Fawkes and, if so, how does Dumbledore acquire him if he was originally given to Credence by Grindelwald? Does this mean Credence dies and Fawkes moves on to (another?) Dumbledore? I keep having to remind myself that this is only third instalment in a five-part series, the halfway point. We may get a few answers from it but we will not see everything tied up neatly with a bow at the end. By the laws of storytelling, it must end with some cliffhangers, with beloved characters in peril, to build anticipation for the next film.

Trailer #2

Chief among the revealing trailer moments is Dumbledore discussing his previous love for Grindelwald. We all knew about it: We knew Dumbledore was gay, we knew he had a youthful romance with Grindelwald, that they plotted and planned a wizard revolution to create wizard rule over mankind, and made a blood pact. We also knew that Dumbledore became disillusioned with Grindelwald and they had a falling out that led to the death of Dumbledore’s sister Ariana during a duel. We knew that Dumbledore was unable to act directly against Grindelwald because of the blood pact, but he was trying to find a way around it as he recruited people, like Newt Scamander, to help him stop Grindelwald’s madness. We also knew that he carried a lot of guilt through the rest of his life, both for Ariana’s death and for his brief, youthful misguided fantasising about wizard rule. Grindelwald also seems to feel a sense of betrayal, that he thought Dumbledore would be by his side, hence Dumbledore replying, “It’s because I was in love with you.” Who among us cannot relate to that danger of being foolish in love? It humanises both characters.

So, it was not a plot spoiler for a trailer to show Dumbledore speak openly of having been in love with Grindelwald, but it was a poignant, intimate moment that would have carried emotional weight to experience it in context, during the course of the film.

Something similar could be said about Jacob getting a wand. The scene of him using a wand could have been used in a trailer to stoke speculation — How did he get a wand? How is he able to use it? That would have built anticipation for the release of the film! But now we know Dumbledore gave it to him via Newt, so we can make some educated guesses about it being imbued with magical powers of its own. We also get some comic relief when we see Jacob, at the end of the first trailer, showing it off to students in the Hogwarts dining hall. Would that humour have been funnier if it were a surprise in the film? Trailers have to show us something, give us some reason to want to see the film. These trailers do raise as many questions as they answer, such as what happens to Theseus when we get a glimpse of him falling with a giant scorpion (which still reminds me of Gandalf and the Balrog).

What do you think? Are you one of those people who reads the last page of a book first so you know that “All was well” before reading it and enduring the stress of suspense and uncertainty, or do you avoid watching trailers and reading social media in the run up to the release of books and movies that you are looking forward to? Or are you somewhere in between: You like to watch trailers, but you do not want them to give too much away?

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.