By now, you’ve probably heard that J.K. Rowling is going to pen a screenplay based on the Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The excitement is all over the place. I’ve had a pep in my step for the last twenty-four hours. I skipped down the streets of Pittsburgh yesterday. Skipped. No cares.
In terms of canon, I don’t generally worry about what Rowling is going to write. Since she wrote both The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, I learned to just hold faith in that woman’s ability to write about anything, not just about magic.
I don’t trust Warner Brothers, though. I don’t trust them to allow what Rowling writes to stand. I worry they will do something stupid. Someone will do something stupid.
If it seems to be a bit pessimistic, you have to understand something. This is the studio that ruined the Matrix franchise by ordering lackluster sequels. They hurt Deathly Hallows: Part 2 by asking for a huge fight scene at the end. They distributed Battlefield Earth. If I seem to distrust Warner Brothers, it’s because I do.
My worry lies in the casting. Will the cast have any people of color? What about strong female characters? Any LGBTQ+ characters? Any characters with disabilities?
However, in the movies, I feel like those characters weren’t given the chance to be as awesome as they were in the books. Dean doesn’t get his part as part of the group kidnapped by Snatchers and taken to Malfoy’s mansion. Cho leaves Order of the Phoenix looking less like the manipulated teenager she was, and the revelation that she was hit with truth serum was missed by a lot of people, including my movie-only friends. Plus, Cho and Harry never go out on that date, so we don’t get to see how much Cedric’s death affected her. Also, the Patils are very underused unless it’s comedy, i.e. as Harry and Ron’s Yule Ball dates. I would like to see a character of color get more of a leading role in this movie, but I don’t know if it will happen.
There could also be strong female characters, hopefully. However, odds are that there will be one female character who will be a love interest and who will get only one or two awesome things to do.
LGBTQ+ characters? It’s possible. We, as a culture, are shifting towards acceptance. However, if the character isn’t straight, I would think that their sexual preference would be a lot like Dumbledore’s. It will be there, but never talked about, which is not representation.
Depending on how the movie, which will be set in the 1920s in New York, is played out, this could be a mess. On the one hand, the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community was non-existent at the pop culture level. However, this movie is set in New York, home of the Harlem jazz scene. So on the other hand, there was a queer presence, regardless of how unacceptable it was at the time, and to disregard it would be a choice and a dumb one at that.
And, I promise you, there won’t be a physically disabled character. Disabled characters are not marketable by Hollywood. J.K. Rowling would have to make Newt Scamander physically disabled for a disability to make it past the creative team.
I don’t think this will be Rowling’s fault. I think Warner Brothers will have too many hands in the cookie jar. They are going for a movie franchise, combining the books with the movies and with Pottermore to make a marketable universe over multiple mediums. I haven’t read about a direct connection, but since Pottermore is run by Sony and pays royalties to Warner Bros., it’s a fair assumption to make. I never have faith in companies trying to make franchises.
And maybe that’s my problem. I love this series. It’s the series that introduced me to a world of friends that I cannot live without. And I am scared that they will screw it up, probably since I don’t have much information about what they’re doing. Is my fear unfounded? Maybe. Maybe I should enjoy the moment of knowing the world I love isn’t quite dead yet. My fear is that, once Fantastic Beasts is over, I’ll wish it stayed dead.