The world as we knew it changed in 1997 when the tale of a boy from a cupboard under the stairs, who was destined to become the best known wizard of all time captured the world's imagination. Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone, changed the perception of what was thought of as "children's fiction" forever.
Creator JK Rowling weaved a magical world of muggles, mudbloods, heroism, friendship and terror. Each stage of the story was meticulously plotted and it all took place in one of the most detailed fictional worlds ever created.
After 7 books and 8 movies, the Potter Franchise had reached it's end... or so we thought.
When the announcement was made that the world would be expanded with a new franchise, kicking off with Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, there was a mixture of trepidation, outrage and wonder from Potter's fan base.
Given the popularity of Harry Potter around the world, an impressive early showing at the box office is almost assured, but it was clear from the beginning that for this franchise to be more than just a cash grab great care would need to be taken.
Having seen the film today I can tell you it has been and with some mild spoilers ahead, here are 5 reasons why I think Fantastic Beasts will go on to do better than the Potter series did in several ways.
1: A Different Perspective
Fantastic Beasts is the first Potterverse entry that comes truly from the perspective of grown-ups. The main characters are around the same age as many of the fans are today who grew up with the original books and films. Harry Potter's story centered on young kids who were forced to deal with adult problems along with all the adolescent issues we all face.
In Fantastic Beasts, we are seeing things through the eyes of Jacob, a Muggle/Non-Mag who is seeing the world of wizardry for the first time. Unlike Harry Potter, this is a grown man who has fought in a war, served his country and seen things -- but never anything like this.
Dan Fogler is the perfect avatar for the older Potter fan, who will arguably drive the box office for the series as they now introduce their children. Instead of "The Boy Who Lived" we seem to have "The Man Who Remembers" and Fogler's endearing charm will help anchor the series.
2: It Is Not As Dark As Harry Potter
While it is clear that 1926 America in the Potterverse has problems with magic -- and some of the same issues that later led to Tom Riddle's rise are here too -- there is a definite air of optimism. While Potter had it's moments of whimsy and humor, they were often smaller moments in a darker world. The fear was rising, the stakes were high and poor Harry and friends had to shoulder all that burden. Of course we know that is all still to come in this new story, but Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander is a very refreshing change. He's bumbling but charming, earnest but often reckless/brave and is filled with love and wonder for creatures and people in equal measure.
Scenes like the Wizard Speakeasy showed that the wizarding world can be fun without Weasly Wheezes when the doom doesn't intervene. Characters like Queenie show a mischievous side that the post-Voldemort world we saw previously didn't.
After 8 movies of escalating doom and gloom, it is great to finally see the lighter side of that universe. Even when darkness does fall, we know that it'll not be as unrelentingly depressing as the Potter movies could be at times.
A lot of Newt's optimic hopes become reality by the end of the film. Creatures are treated better, mixed couples from Muggles and Magic happen and so inherently the tone is much more positive in this film.
3: The Beasts Are The Stars
The Potter series built its reputation on quality casting in every role, however small. While there was little doubt that Radcliffe, Grint & Watson were the stars, even the bit part actors were perfect and well-known by many. With Fantastic Beasts however, it's Newt's menagerie that are the true stars. Each one lovingly brought to life in a way that will capture even the hardest hearts.
Six years after Deathly Hallows Part 2, CGI has greatly evolved. There are no shots that don't work, no creature that is "meh". Each has its own uniqueness and importance to Newt and the story as well. In the year Pokemon Go took over the world, a Fantastic Beasts game seems like a no-brainer.
4: Young Dumbledore
We haven't been introduced to him yet, but Dumbledore is definitely going to be a part of this series and perhaps become the true lead.
Newt Scamander is clearly adept at magic, but lacks "combat experience" against fellow wizards. This is where Dumbledore will come into play. It's no longer a spoiler that Johnny Depp is playing Gellert Grindelwald and the casting of Dumbledore will be pivotal to match his screen presence. Either Ewan McGregor or James McAvoy would be excellent choices to fill the role.
We have yet to see a strong adult hero in the Potterverse. While not quite the Han Solo type, Dumbledore could bring some grit to the series. Sure, he becomes wise and revered, but he was also a maverick and controversial on his appointment to headmaster of Hogwarts. The reasons behind this would be a lot of fun to see on the big screen.
5: A Wizarding World Of Wonder
So far, our view of the Potterverse has been very limited. We've see Privet Drive, a bit of London, Hogwarts and random locations in England, as well as the odd shot of Azkhaban and now New York.
With the the next installment of the series reportedly taking place -- at least partially -- in Paris, we'll also get to see the french way of doing things in the realm of magic.
Rowling is expanding her magical world and with several more sequels to come it's obvious she's just getting started.
I have a feeling the locations in the Fantastic Beats saga are going to be a big part of what makes the so fantastic.
So there you have it. I was skeptical about whether Fantastic Beasts would just be a sell out, but it really isn't. It is it's own thing and deserves to he here. Frankly, I like this better than Potter already, but let me know what you think!