ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning: The following contains some mild SPOILERS for Warner Bros' recently released Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, albeit few that have any real bearing on the movie's plot. Proceed with whatever level of caution your magical precognitive powers suggest is wise all the same, though...)

Now, there's a whole lot to love about ' newly released franchise — not least the fact that it's practically bubbling over with talented actors being visibly good at their jobs, which is always nice to see.

Perhaps the most endearing thing about the whole enterprise, though — aside from the fact that it's a whole lot of fun — is the fact that...

Fantastic Beasts Proves Once And For All That Harry Potter Was A Putz

[Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1/Warner Bros]
[Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1/Warner Bros]

Specifically, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them manages to not only highlight one of the franchise's most problematic thematic undercurrents, but to offer up an entirely new, more palatable alternative. The undercurrent in question? The fact that Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived, is incredibly, irredeemably boring.

Now, that's not to say that the story of his adolescence is boring — far from it, in fact — but rather that, of all the people who could have possibly found themselves in the middle of an era-defining war between good and evil, Harry Potter is pretty much the most bland, milquetoast waste of a wand that anyone could have possibly imagined making the centerpiece of decade-spanning franchise. In a world of wonder, wizards and Hermione Granger, Potter is a blank cipher, casually waiting around for adventure to leave its mark on him. But he really doesn't have to be. Y'see:

Newt Scamander Is Harry Potter, If Harry Potter Wasn't As Boring As Dry Toast

[Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them/Warner Bros.]
[Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them/Warner Bros.]

Y'see, 's is, as it turns out, not all that dissimilar to Harry Potter. They're both privileged, Hogwarts-educated dorks with a knack for getting into trouble (and the often inexplicable backing of Albus Dumbledore). That, though, is where the similarities largely end. Y'see, while Harry Potter spent much of his free time in his own movie series lurking around train station cafes or hanging out with his friend's parents, Newt Scamander apparently spent his becoming an expert on fantastic creatures, working with dragons in World War One, and generally seeing the world.

Which, since the 'Wizarding World' contains Cthulhu-like horse creatures, giant hawk dragons, blowfish leopards and intelligent stick insects — not to mention adventure — really does make Harry's decision look like that of someone without all that much imagination. After all, where Newt had to spend weeks on ocean liners and camel treks in order to get anywhere, Harry could have picked up a budget airline ticket to wherever he felt like for the equivalent of a few days of work at a part-time summer job. Heck, even if he couldn't have found the money — let's say he really wanted to give anything he earned to the Dursley's, for instance — there were surely all sorts of prohibited magical ways to get anywhere, and it's not as though he wasn't willing to break the rules for all sorts of other random reasons. There was a lifetime's worth of magical creatures, different cultures and genuine, non-school based excitement out there in Harry's world — and he was interested in seeing precisely none of it.

[Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them/Warner Bros.]
[Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them/Warner Bros.]

Which, of course, is absolutely fine. None of us should be obliged to travel, or to be interested in other cultures, and having adventures doesn't make someone an inherently better person. What such outward-looking adventure-inclination does do, though, is make someone a far more interesting lead for a movie — and, in turn, make Harry Potter, a young man who had access to a flying broom and chose to use it only to fly around playing an inefficiently designed sport, seem a little dull.

Newt Scamander never looked likely to be a conventional hero — he's a softly spoken goofball with more of a gift for stumbling over things than saving the day — but that doesn't seem to have stopped him from spending his youth becoming both extremely interesting, and, crucially, extremely interested in the world around him. He's essentially what we would have seen had the Harry Potter stories been centered on Fred and George Weasley, in a world where they decided that finding giant hawk dragons was a better use of their time than pulling pranks.

And, y'know what? That might just make for a more interesting movie franchise...

What do you reckon, though? Does Newt Scamander make Harry Potter seem boring by comparison? Let us know below!


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