The Fantastic Beasts films are continuing to explore the history of Harry Potter’s wizarding world, and soon will be getting into the complicated past of Albus Dumbledore. Although the movies center Newt Scamander, the focus is increasingly upon the early Professor, played by Jude Law. As a result, the first trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2 opens with a group of wizards approaching Hogwarts to speak to the Professor. It’s a scene that’s rich in humor, as Dumbledore denies that Newt is his agent in Europe.

Later in the trailer, Dumbledore tells Newt that he cannot oppose Grindelwald directly at this time, sending the magizoologist on a mission instead. Harry Potter fans know he will do so in the end, but why is Dumbledore so reluctant now? Although fans thought they knew the answer from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the trailer suggests there’s something more mysterious at work.


As Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows established, Dumbledore and Grindelwald have a deep and personal history. Grindelwald visited Godric’s Hollow when Dumbledore was only a teenager, shortly after the dark wizard was expelled from Durmstrang. He and Dumbledore became fast friends, both increasingly obsessed with the Deathly Hallows. The two wizards kept in touch for years, continuing to correspond after Grindelwald returned to Germany. But events took a tragic twist.

One day, when Grindelwald was visiting again, Albus’s brother Aberforth intervened. He cautioned at the increasing madness of Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s schemes, and enraged Grindelwald. The confrontation turned into a three-way wizard’s duel, leading to the tragic death of the young Ariana Dumbledore. Albus would never be sure whose spell killed his sister, but blamed himself regardless. The tragedy brought an end to the friendship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

Towards the end of his life, Dumbledore would conclude that his overwhelming sense of guilt was what kept him from standing against Grindelwald’s rise to power. The trailer, however, suggests another reason.


It’s certainly no surprise to see that the Ministry of Magic may, at least initially, have been on the wrong side of history – they were just as inactive during the events of Harry Potter. In the trailer, Ministry officials – possibly allied with representatives from foreign Ministries – confront Dumbledore over Newt’s actions. They rightly believe Newt to be acting on Dumbledore’s orders, and are furious at Dumbledore’s intervention.

What the trailer suggests is that Dumbledore had to account for British politics; the Ministry of Magic seem to have tried to sit out Grindelwald’s rise, wary of interfering in the affairs of another country. It’s a policy that can best be described as “appeasement,” which was alluded to in the first Fantastic Beasts, and adds even more depth to the conflict between Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

Grindelwald has always paralleled the rise of Nazism in Germany. He’s a charismatic sorcerer who rose to power through the 1930s, and committed horrendous atrocities. Furthermore, it’s no coincidence that Grindelwald would ultimately be defeated in 1945 – the year the Second World War ended. Clearly, in the Harry Potter universe, Grindelwald was somehow tied to the Nazi regime. That makes a policy of “appeasement” all the more appropriate. In the 1930s, only a few key figures in Britain dared to speak out about the need to confront Adolf Hitler. Others, like Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, believed he could be appeased; that there was a limit to Hitler’s ambitions, and that there was no British appetite for another war. It would certainly be ironic to see the Ministry of Magic pursuing a policy towards Grindelwald.


Of course, in the end, Albus Dumbledore will indeed choose to step in and confront his old friend. The Fantastic Beasts films will end in 1945, presumably with that famous wizarding duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. According to Deathly Hallows, the public mood will change, and the British wizards will beg Dumbledore to intervene directly. Although hesitant, he’ll ultimately do so.

And yet, the trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2 suggests the reasons for Dumbledore’s hesitancy were far more complex than those detailed in Deathly Hallows. It’s quite possible that, towards the end of his life, Dumbledore was being too hard on himself; that he actually did get involved as early as possible, and that political forces beyond his control constrained him until 1945.