Can We Have a Wizarding World Without J.K. Rowling?
A Variety report last week revealed that inside Warner Bros., “there’s a growing sense the prequel series is no longer worth the time and treasure given the embarrassment of needing to replace Depp, the landmines of Rowling and Miller, and the high costs associated with all things Hogwarts”—the series in question being J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts. But just because this part of the Wizarding World might be doomed, it doesn’t mean the rest of it is.
Reading about Secrets of Dumbledore from those who did see it, what becomes clear is that the series truly did not know how to tell its story.
Zach Kram on The Ringer explained how all five major plot details from Crimes of Grindlewald were undone or ignored in Secrets of Dumbledore, from Credence now being revealed to be Albus’s nephew, not brother (why, who cares) to Nagini being nowhere to be seen despite the deeply problematic retcon that was, Queenie getting over working with magic Nazis really quickly, the blood pact that was established between Grindlewald and Dumbledore being destroyed, and Leta Lestrange’s sacrifice being an emotional dead end.
It is the kind of whiplash that could kill a series. Hell, it almost ruined Star Wars, but thankfully they had enough counter-programming to keep that brand afloat.
Harry Potter does not.
At this point, what has kept the magic of Harry Potter alive is the books, the eight films, and the fandom itself. From The Cursed Child to Pottermore to Fantastic Beasts, the expansion of the Potterworld has only served to dilute the magic—creating plotholes, highlighting inconsistencies, and just sometimes being culturally ignorant. Plus, we have to deal with Voldemort and Bellatrix having a canonical kid for some godforsaken reason.
But the most important question is “Can the Harry Potter world exist and thrive with J.K. Rowling at the helm?” Watching Rowling harass trans people online, seeing how her transphobic rhetoric has added to an already toxic environment for trans folks in the U.K., and the way her Twitter platform continues to allow her to find validation, it is extremely hard to enjoy Harry Potter if you care about these issues.
Her recent comments color every aspect of how the series is read now, and while I don’t blame fans for still wanting to enjoy Potter, the reality is that she is the brand. Any upcoming projects with Harry Potter will always put money in her pocket, and trying to remove her from the book series itself would be a very problematic precedent to set. But one thing is for sure—the series needs new blood.
Rowling came up with the stories for these prequels, and they are not good, nor do they really understand what Potter fans want from the Wizarding World. Newt adventuring around rescuing magical beasts could have been a perfectly fine anthology-like series. It didn’t need to be about this early Wizarding War. Especially when we know how it ends.
If Warner Bros. wants to help this franchise grow, it needs to bring in writers and creators who understand what made this series connect to so many around the world, but craft a forward-looking vision for the series. We may not be able to get rid of Rowling, but we don’t need to reward her.
(via The Wrap, image: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
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