This article contains Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them spoilers.
If you’ve seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the greatest surprise, whether you knew Johnny Depp was in the movie or not, came when Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves revealed himself to be the ominous Gellert Grindelwald all along! For the record, Grindelwald’s infamy haunted the original Harry Potter movies too, since Grindelwald appeared briefly as the old man whom Voldormort turned to for answers about the Elder Wand in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. Not much is known about Grindelwald before that point other than he once commanded an army and was bested in the supposedly greatest duel ever waged between wizards when confronting his adolescent friend, Dumbledore.
However, we’ll see more of Depp’s younger Grindelwald soon enough, and in a context that’s well before his defeat at the hands of Albus and his imprisonment in Nurmengard. Indeed, when I talked with David Yates about Grindelwald and Johnny Depp’s role in the upcoming sequels, the director teased that Grindelwald will have a major role in the first direct sequel, likely as a main antagonist who is slowly rising to power.
“Yes, Grindelwald comes back in the second movie and is quite compelling, actually. He’s a really seductive, beguiling chap who seems to have a very reasonable—so he’s quite scary. He’s making a case for wizard kind. Wizard kind in these stories, they’re a minority of the population. They’re a tiny minority, and in America in particular, they stay hidden, because of the special powers and because they’ve been persecuted in the past. At the Salem Witch Trials, they were persecuted and killed. So their response to that is they’ve segregated themselves in a way, because they’re afraid of being persecuted again.
But ironically, they have these extraordinary powers that Grindelwald would argue would allow them to sort of take a rightful place on the world stage.”
It sounds like the rise of the wizarding right has begun. We’ll have more in the coming days of what this means for the future of the franchise, but in the meantime, you can read our full interview with David Yates here.