The “Fantastic Beasts” franchise is so obsessed with retconning everything its predecessor ever stood for — the addition of an unfulfilled gay romance for the sake of representation included — that it forgets where its strength lies: in its fantastic beasts.
2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” entirely relies on Newt’s relationship with the magical creatures he has hidden away. The magizoologist (or magical Steve Irwin, as someone once said) conceals a TARDIS-style menagerie in his suitcase (it’s, of course, bigger on the inside with the help of an undetectable extension charm), where there’s a vast, expanded world where many magical creatures live in their natural habitats. The species include Occamies, Bowtruckles, Nifflers, Swooping Evil, and a Thunderbird, too — beasts we’ve never seen in the wizarding world. In one scene, when an Erumpent escapes Newt’s case and makes its way to the Central Park Zoo, the wizard performs a rhino mating dance to entice the creature and pull him back into the case. He stoops low, hunches, avoid eye contact, thumps his foot, and proceeds to make bizarre noises. It’s both hilarious and new — and one of the franchise’s highest points before the wizarding world’s version of Hitler takes away the spotlight.
Grindelwald is only revealed in the film’s ending moments, and even then, the presence of Dumbledore’s sworn enemy and a wizard we’ve heard of in the “Harry Potter” universe doesn’t take away from the excitement of the movie being a Newt Scamander show. Newt is an inherently unconventional hero. The character exudes hesitance; he’s nervous, nothing like the brave Harry Potter of the past or the formidable young Dumbledore of the future. Still, Newt holds a charm that is so unassuming; you can’t help but imagine his story to be a fitting addition to the “Harry Potter” universe.