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Controversies surround upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel

While many Harry Potter fans are excited for the upcoming release of “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” a considerable amount of controversy surrounds the new film.

The film will take place one month after the events of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the first movie in the “Fantastic Beasts” series. The main antagonist, Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped from prison, and a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) needs the help of his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to track Grindelwald down.

Depp played the villainous Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts” as well, quickly becoming one of the most well-known controversies surrounding the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise.

Depp was cast just months after he was accused of domestic violence against his former wife, Amber Heard, in 2016. Since then, many have been calling to have someone else take over his role. Despite this, Depp is continuing his role in the “Fantastic Beast” films.

Many have voiced their anger on this, using the example of “All the Money in the The World,” in which director Ridley Scott replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer after Spacey faced allegations of sexual abuse, even though a majority of the scenes had already been shot with Spacey. However, the budget and time to do that is not something that every film has the luxury of having.

Director David Yates, J. K. Rowling, and Warner Bros. have all released statements defending the decision to keep Depp on, primarily citing the joint statement Depp and Heard made as their argument. The couple’s statement acknowledged that “there was never any intent of physical or emotional harm.”

Rowling, who is writing the screenplay for the film, has stated that “agreements have been put in place to protect the privacy of two people, both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives…. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

In the end, the majority of viewers’ decisions to watch the movie will not be influenced by controversy such as this one, especially with younger viewers.

Freshman Bhakti Ramani says, “If Johnny Depp is a professional man and serious about his job, then he should continue playing his role in the movie. We don’t know the full truth, so we shouldn’t be making any conclusions that will affect the production of the movie.”

Another source of conflict about the movie comes from a decision that was announced on January 31. Director Yates said in interview that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be explicitly shown.

Rowling revealed that she had “always thought of Dumbledore as gay” in 2007. Since then, the majority of Harry Potter fans have embraced this interpretation of Dumbledore.

Dumbledore is the only character in the series who was confirmed not to be heterosexual. While sometimes morally gray, he was written as someone who always worked for good and believed in the power of love. This positive representation of a gay character was extremely empowering for many fans, regardless of whether they were part of the LGBT community or allies.

However, some criticized this “coming-out” as too little, too late. Dumbledore was revealed to be gay the year that the final installment of the Harry Potter series was published, a full two years after his character died in “The Half-Blood Prince”. This made it impossible for future works to include such representation with Dumbledore’s character, and therefore followed the “bury your gays” trope.

The announcement that the “Fantastic Beast” movies would include a young Dumbledore brought new hope for fans, especially since Rowling has stated that Dumbledore was in love with Grindelwald himself when he was younger. In a film that is set to feature both men opposite each other, allusions to previous attractions could provide character depth and strengthen the plot.

Despite this, upon being asked if Dumbledore would be openly gay, Yates stated that Dumbledore would “not explicitly” be portrayed as gay in “The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

This seems to go in direct contrast with what Rowling said in 2016 about the films, saying, “As far as his sexuality is concerned … watch this space,” in reference to the “Fantastic Beasts” movies. Outraged fans quickly took to Twitter and angrily tweeted at both Yates and Rowling about the interview.

Freshman Ashnu Cassod says, “I think that Dumbledore definitely should be shown as gay, especially since J. K. Rowling said he was and most people accepted that. Harry Potter is a huge franchise, so having LGBT representation would impact a lot of people. The fact that Dumbledore is gay doesn’t have to be a huge part of his character, but I think erasing that is a mistake on the filmmakers’ part.”

However, not everyone is as concerned with this omission.

Freshman Riya Patel says, “I don’t think it’s necessary to see a gay Dumbledore. First of all, we don’t know how comfortable the actor of Dumbledore is with portraying a gay character. Additionally, if his sexuality isn’t going to affect the plot, I don’t see why it needs to be included.”

Some of the accusations being leveled against the film include that Dumbledore’s sexuality is being hidden to make the film more palatable for countries that are not as accepting of openly gay characters. In other words, some are worried that this decision was made with money in mind so the movie performs well even in countries like China and Russia.

Rowling has replied to the backlash she has received for this. In her typical style, she criticized the people sending her abuse “about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read.” She also implied that there is chance for this representation in later movies, as the entire “Fantastic Beasts” series is planned to have five parts.

Another source of criticism came with the trailer’s release on March 13, which showed a group of wizards apparating, or magically transporting themselves, onto Hogwarts grounds.

Previous installments in the Harry Potter series have clearly established that wizards cannot apparate into Hogwarts, and many fans pointed this out and came up with theories of their own as to why this was included. Others have been quick to write it off as a plot hole.

Freshman Ava Guardado says, “Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal. There were some flaws in the original movies, too, and this probably won’t affect the plot that much in the end.”

Jessica Williams, former Daily Show correspondent and good friend of Rowling herself, has assured fans that Rowling and Yates know what they are doing and that the scene was intentional. However, not everyone is convinced.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is set to premiere on November 16, 2018.

What are your opinions on the controversies surrounding the film?

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