The Harry Potter spin-offs Warner Bros could do next

Top 10 Caroline Preece 18 Aug 2014 - 06:11

As Warner Bros announces its Fantastic Beasts set of Harry Potter films, Caroline wonders what other film spin-offs we could see next...

It’s around three years since Harry, Ron, Hermione and friends hung up their wands to much fanfare and box office revenue but, come November 2016, we’re all going back to the wizarding world for one (or three) more adventures.

Warner Bros. have released dates for a brand new trilogy set to hit cinemas in November 2016, 2018 and 2020 respectively. Few of us doubted that this would eventually happen – no matter how protective of her stories and their characters JK Rowling might be, there was little chance that Deathly Hallows Part II was the last ever outing – even if no one saw a revival coming quite this soon.

The appetite for more Harry Potter-related movies is still there, and Hollywood knows it. The obscure choice of Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them – a textbook set to be adapted into three new films – sidesteps the accusation of cashing in, as a straight remake might have done (if The Amazing Spider-Man was greeted frostily, just imagine), and everyone from Rowling to Daniel Radcliffe and Warner Bros have tried to distance the films from their predecessors.

But, despite the movies taking place in the 20s, there are several avenues down which they could incorporate some familiar elements. Dumbledore would be kicking around somewhere at the time, for example, and it’s safe to say that Hogwarts will be making an appearance despite the movie initially being set in New York.

If the Fantastic Beasts series turns out to be even half as popular as the original movies, then what’s to stop Warner Brothers from mining some other area of Rowling’s meticulously-constructed universe for other spin-off ideas? Well, the author for one, who is so frightened of having her world tarnished that she’s insisted on being as involved as ever with the upcoming movies.

In her own words, “the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of Fantastic Beasts, realised by another writer was difficult.” As a fan, it’s hard to complain about her continued participation.

But she was tempted by one idea, then why not another? The Harry Potter universe is rich with brilliant side-stories, minor characters for which Rowling has worked out entire backstories, and vast periods of missing time that have yet to be delved into. Here are ten spin-offs that Warner Bros could do next, and why they could potentially be great.

Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin

Start at the beginning, with (Godric) Gryffindor, (Helga) Hufflepuff, (Rowena) Ravenclaw and (Salazar) Slytherin, and you’ve got a fascinating period piece that finally fleshes out the history of Hogwarts and the fraught moral and literal battles waged between the four founders.

The values of each of the houses has become a part of the public consciousness like nothing else (for example, I have a friend who recently told me that she still mentally sorts people into Hogwarts houses so as to understand them better), so putting faces to names could yield a fascinating study of the racial and societal politics already established in the original books.

From here, you have the introduction of the school, the sorting hat, the sword of Gryffindor, the Chamber of Secrets and Hufflepuff’s cup – all recognisable items from Harry’s own adventures, scattered through the books along with snippets of information about their original owners. It’s what the whole world is based on, but there’s also an enthralling human story underneath it all.

The Marauders

A Marauders movie, on paper, is probably the easiest to pull off, so the fact that it hasn’t already been made could be down to its surface similarities to the previous Hogwarts-based stories. It’s been called for by fans since Prisoner Of Azkaban was released, and enthusiasm hasn’t waned.

Though it feels a little mean to say it, the adult characters in the Harry Potter series were often much more interesting than their teen counterparts, and we heard enough about James, Sirius and Lupin to know a movie adaptation of their side of the story has heaps of potential.

Not only do we have their school days, which would incorporate Lily, Snape and Peter Pettigrew, but there’s also the part they played in the first Wizarding War, the strained relationships between each member of the group, and the eventual betrayal that got Harry’s parents killed. Just their monthly adventures as Animagi to keep Lupin company during their student days would be enough to justify a spin-off.

It’s a tale of male bonding that the Harry Potter never really showed much interest in, and also has a much nastier edge than anything we saw Harry, Ron and Neville get up to at Hogwarts. The hold-up is Rowling, who has previously said that she has little interest in revisiting the characters as their younger selves. There’ll always be fanfiction.

The Order of the Phoenix

We only got a vague idea of the first wizarding war from the books, and Harry and co. were camping out in the English countryside for most of the second, so a change in perspective to the older participants on both sides of the conflict would make for a pretty epic new look at the same events.

It would feature characters audiences have already gotten to know, opening up the prospect of Britain’s acting elite to reprise their roles, and is almost definitely more exciting than seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione hide out in a tent for months on end. Going back to the first conflict would also allow us to flesh out stories of the Longbottoms, the Weasleys, Snape’s double-agent status and so much more.

So many details were glossed over in the movies for lack of time, and that meant that a lot of the tension and tragedy for anyone outside of the main trio was lost on-screen, but switching the focus from the teenagers to Lupin, Snape, Kingsley, Tonks would easily remedy this. It’s unlikely to happen, since it would essentially be going over old ground, but we can dream.

The Next Generation

This is probably the spin-off fans of the series want to see the least, but the one that is most likely to follow Fantastic Beasts down the road. It’s easy to do – just round up a brand new crop of young actors and concoct a brand new threat for them to face while at Hogwarts. It’s just about preferable to a remake, at least for the next couple of decades, but would still feel lazy.

All of the characters had enough children to populate a brand new generation of students, and some have even featured quite prominently in Rowling’s canonical releases.

Teddy Lupin – the son of Remus and Tonks – for example, was described as a teenage tearaway in the latest Pottermore story, and was always the thing that brought lots of themes full circle with both his parents killed in the war and Harry taking up the mantle of godfather. In the Flesh’s Luke Newberry was also cast in the role for Deathly Hallows before being cut, making a screen version the character even more intriguing.

A film focusing on this new generation of witches and wizards, while obvious, would admittedly benefit from a blank canvas, which no prequel would enjoy in quite the same way. Other than some little snippets of information, we don’t know what the future holds for the Potter/Weasley children, so a movie could potentially do whatever it wanted with them.

Dumbledore

Where to start? The vastness of Dumbledore’s backstory was too much to be included in the movie adaptation of Deathly Hallows, with all of the Grindelwald footage cut out, but it may just be one of the most fascinating elements of the of the whole book series.

It’s certainly the darkest, with Harry learning about his mentor’s former life completely changing one of its most enduring relationships and forcing Harry himself to grow up.

The idea of seeing a young Dumbledore and Grindelwald, two supremely damaged and ambitious wizards, struggle with familial strife, expectations and their own growing relationship in the wizarding world of the early 1900s is an incredibly tantalising thought. The fact that it ends in an epic battle is just the icing on the cake.

Think of how X-Men: First Class handled the early Magneto-Professor X dynamic, and Dumbledore movie could throw in the character’s discovery and mentorship of a young Tom Riddle. Even without it, though, there’s enough to Dumbledore’s backstory to warrant a whole string of movies, all critically different in tone to the comparatively ‘light-hearted’ adventures of Harry and his friends.

Voldemort

The Star Wars prequels may not be the best example of how to tell a story from the villain’s perspective, but the concept is solid, and would work brilliantly in a Voldemort-centric movie. We were given an overview of Tom Riddle’s journey from animal-torturing orphan to terrorist from flashbacks and anecdotes in both book and film versions, but there’s so much more to explore.

The character’s downfall spans decades, for one, ending in not one but two different wars. If this idea were ever to see the light of day, though, it would likely mine the early years of Riddle’s life, incorporating Dumbledore, Hogwarts and younger versions of other villains such as Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange.

Shows like Bates Motel prove that people would be receptive to watching Tom Riddle the teenage sociopath, while Gotham supports the case for prequels featuring iconic characters in their younger years, and this is one concept that would probably work better on television than as a film. It’s a slow burn, but could be a fascinating look at a character not often placed in the protagonist role.

The Ministry

The dodgy and corrupt politics of the wizarding world was something that was always present throughout the series, even if it was mostly kept to the background. But with Harry, Ron, Neville and Hermione all working for the Ministry of Magic at some point after the events of Deathly Hallows, a compelling movie focusing on the rebuilding of the Ministry after the war doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea.

We jump straight from that final battle of Hogwarts to Harry dropping off his 11-year-old son off on the train 19-years later – what happened in between? How did the world pick up the pieces and rebuild after such devastation? Either as a political thriller or a police drama, the possibilities are endless.

It wouldn’t even have to feature Harry himself, though that would obviously be preferable, as we’ve met plenty of minor characters, such as new Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt, with ties to the Ministry. If done right, the aftermath of the war could be as interesting to watch as the war itself, transporting many of the same themes of the Potter series to a more adult-targeted genre.

Luna

Luna has always been described as one of Rowling’s favourite characters, so much so that this was reportedly the reason for her getting married to a descendent of Newt Scamander – the hero of Fantastic Beasts – Rolf. She’s also a fan-favourite, of course, and is the sort of quirky leading lady that could head up a whimsical detour from the war and mayhem of the main story.

After the events of the Harry Potter, series, Rowling has said that Luna went on to become a wizarding naturalist of note, travelling the world and interacting with the weird and wonderful creatures dotted around the world. If that isn’t a recipe for a brand new movie series, then I don’t know what is.

Even though it’s set several decades before she was born, Luna is the most tied to the already-planned movie trilogy, so it’s not insane to think she might feature somewhere along the way, but for now we can just fantasise about how much fun a Luna-centric film or TV series might be.

Death Eaters and their spawn

The entire Malfoy family made it out of the battle of Hogwarts alive, so we can assume that countless others cut and run in the same way, and watching them reintegrating into a society no longer accepting of their core values could be very interesting.

It provides an opportunity to explore the shifting class dynamics and changing political climate of the world from a slightly skewed perspective, with familiar characters mixed in with new players on both sides.

In fact, Malfoy Jr. Is the one major player we know very little about post-Hogwarts, aside from a brief acknowledgement from his former rival at King’s Cross in Deathly Hallows’ epilogue, and that makes any new information even more intriguing.

The aftermath of the war on our heroes is one thing, but where the villains end up after defeat is potentially a more worthwhile story to tell.

More Harry and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army

Though there are so many possibilities for spin-offs that take us away from the original stories, what people really want in their heart of hearts is more adventures from Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army. It’s one of the reasons why J.K. Rowling’s own short story released on Pottermore in July got such a warm reaction.

The divisive epilogue stuck on the end of Deathly Hallows was most probably Rowling’s way of stopping anyone from continuing the story with her beloved central characters, establishing once and for all that those who survived lived happy and full lives with their families and friends. All was well, and that’s that.

But if she can shed light in 2014 on where those guys are in their mid-thirties, then the notion that we’ll never hear from them again starts to look a little less concrete.

What do we know? Harry is an Auror now, Hermione working elsewhere in the Ministry, while Neville remains at Hogwarts, Ginny at the Daily Prophet and Ron and George running Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes together.

We can only speculate where the more minor members of the team (who survived) – Cho, Seamus, Dean etc. – have gotten to, but we just know that Rowling has it written down in her notes somewhere.

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