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Monday, October 31, 2016

3 Characters You should be Psyched about in Fantastic Beasts


Last time I blogged about Fantastic Beasts, I listed the beasts we need to see in the films. Today I'm blogging about the characters you should be most excited to meet, and why.

Characters


Newt Scamander

Okay, I know this sounds obvious, but can we seriously take a moment and revel in how wonderfully and well done Newt's character comes across in the trailers alone?! I feel like I can already tell you all about him, and I love him! And you should too.



When I saw the first trailer, I also saw a characterization aspect that I love and hope to one day create in my own work: a character that is likeable, but you aren't sure you can trust. And Newt does just that. Just watch the trailer again and you'll see it. And the actor, Eddie Redmayne, brings the perfect subtext and expressions to render this. He's got this kind of smile and unconcerned demeanor. He believes everything will be fine, and he goes with the flow. Newt is not the kind of guy you'll see stressing out over his exams or . . . about his deadly animals wrecking havoc on New York. Or at least not as much as a normal person, and he only shows his stress in subtle ways, not harsh shrill ways.


It's not that you can't trust him because he has ill intentions (he's a true Hufflepuff for one) but you can't quite trust his judgement. He's a bit too calm and unconcerned about what's going on. I get the vibe he has this kind of "What will happen, will happen" attitude. And all you can do is your best, and that's it.

The next thing I love is that he's stigmatized in society. And I love stigmatized characters. And that fact alone, that he doesn't fit in with his society, makes us sympathetic to his character. As Eddie puts it, Newt feels more comfortable with animals than he does people. To me, that comes from having negative experiences with people and society to a point that you are hurt enough to withdraw from them and find companionship in animals instead. After all, animals can't hurt you the way people do. And some animals only show unconditional love--love you might not get from a society you don't fit into. (Okay, and with that said, does anyone else see how the crazy beauty Newt's and Tina's love story can potentially have? What if Tina is like the one person who learns to love Newt for Newt?)

Then, Newt is a Hufflepuff. Thank heavens. Hufflepuff are actually awesome! I should know, I am one ;) And while everyone makes fun of them, they have some of the best qualities a person can have. So glad to have a Hufflepuff main character.

Also, can we also take a second to love Newt's Hufflepuff scarf? I love how it has an older design, more reminiscent of the first Harry Potter films, but more faded and antiquated looking to account for the earlier time period.

Newt was expelled from Hogwarts, but his bio in Fantastic Beasts says he graduated there. Is Rowling changing canon? Or does he go back and get a later degree? Either way having a hero that's been expelled sounds great to me (but why does he still have his wand? Shouldn't it have been snapped?)

Queenie



We haven't seen a lot of Queenie yet, but there are two things that have sold me on wanting to meet her.

1. She's a legilimens. This means she can "read minds" (don't tell Snape I called it mind reading), but even better, even better than that, is she uses a kind of legilimency we haven't seen before: she can hear the thoughts of everyone around her. And not just thoughts, but their story, and their goals. Also unlike other legilimens, it sounds like she can do it without the other people knowing.

2. Her character. Like I said, we don't know a lot about her, but she does appear in the trailer. She's Tina's younger sister, and comparing and contrasting them, Queenie seems to be a bit into beauty and glamour, which I find adorable and lovable. And I love the cute interest we hear in her voice when she says, "Tinie, you brought home men" in the trailer.

Jacob

Okay, wait--we get a Hufflepuff and a Muggle (or "No-Maj" in American terms) as main characters? Yes, please!

At first glance, Jacob may not seem like the character you are most excited to see, but let me tell you again why you should be.



He's a Muggle! And a main character! This was a very smart move on Rowling's part, as it opens up a bunch of options to play with in plot and character relationships. Since there is a lot of prejudice and conflict with Muggles in this time period (Salem Witch Trials, anyone?), Jacob will give us a lot of insight into those things and Muggle relationships with Wizards. We also see in the trailer that Tina is a bit prejudice against Muggles herself (while Newt doesn't seem to be), so having Jacob on board will be perfect to play with and eventually change those prejudices. And who knows, maybe in the end, Jacob will be able to patch up some of the Muggle-Wizard problems since he was involved with both worlds (before opening his bakery, which is his ambition at the beginning of the story--and who doesn't love a good baker?).

Also, a great storytelling plus is that because he's a Muggle, he's vulnerable in ways the other characters won't be. In a way, he can be a great storytelling handicap to the group, because he'll need their help and need to be saved.

And here's a question to consider: Does Jacob know about the Wizarding World before the movie starts? Or will he discover it on screen? If it happens on screen, it will be a fantastic way to introduce audience members who aren't familiar with the Wizarding World, to the Wizarding World.

Jacob will also work as a great stand-in for the audience's feelings and wishes. We already see this happening in the trailer when he says, "I wish I was a wizard."

Over all, excellent move on Rowling's part.

Other Character Points Worth Mentioning


Excellent Character Foils

I've been mentioning this a lot on my blog for the last two years or so, and even a bit before that, but let us take a moment to bask in the beauty already present in how the main characters foil each other.

Tina and Newt foil each other well, not only because of Tina's prejudice toward Muggles, but in a few other areas too. She worries and stresses a bit while Newt doesn't. We can see the concern in her face when she sees Newt just closing the suitcase and she says "It was open?" She understands how New York and the world works, when Newt seems a bit naive and definitely unconcerned about it. He's not that worried. They'll bounce off each other perfectly.

Tina and Jacob. With Muggle and Wizard conflicts at an all time high in the U.S., we will definitely see some interesting interactions between Tina and Jacob, even if it ends up just being subtext (not sure how much you can explore it in a 2-hour movie)

And again, Jacob foiling Wizards in general. I also think we see Queenie and Tina foil each other, just a smidge, if only in their appearances. Queenie preferring glamour (and maybe men) and Tina being more plain and (I'm sensing) focused on things more useful as opposed to pretty.

Other Interesting Characters

Seraphina Piquery - Seraphina is a witch who is basically the equivalent of the Minister of Magic in the U.S. And she's a woman. In that way, the Wizarding World seems to be ahead of its time. Which is also why I find it interesting there is so much prejudice against Muggles. Forward in one way, backward in another. I mean, in the trailer we learn that wizards can't even marry Muggles. Also, side note, what's with her name? It sounds a lot like Serafina Pekkala, the witch from Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, which was big in the UK around the same time the first Harry Potter books were coming out. I did some research, wondering if there was a real witch by that name and found nothing. Is Rowling paying tribute to a series she likes too? Pullman's Serafina was the queen of the witches, and Rowling's is nearly the president of witches and wizards in the U.S.



Percival - Percival is an auror assigned to track down Newt. It'll be cool to see an auror character hunting down the protagonist. (Fun fact, Tina used to be an auror until she was demoted, so maybe she'll even know this guy.



Where are the kids?

Since Harry Potter was a children's story that grew into young adult, I think it's interesting to note that none of the main characters we've seen fit into either of those. They're adults. On the one hand, I think it's a smart move, since those who actually grew up with Harry Potter are all adults too now. On the other hand, I'm surprised they aren't trying to bring in a younger character to appeal to the kids. I mean, you don't have to have one to appeal to them, but with all the youth in the previous films, I'm surprised we haven't seen even one. Also, has anyone else noticed that "A Sex Trade Worker" is listed as a character? I don't think we can expect much from it, but another nod to adult characters, I guess.

Which characters are you most excited to see?


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