‘Fantastic Beasts 2’: What’s Up with Dumbledore?

     November 16, 2018

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Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald follow below.

This is your final spoiler warning, folks. We’re going deep into Fantastic Beasts 2 and the film’s shocking ending below. If you haven’t seen the film, turn back now.

Okay, we good? So yeah, Dumbledore apparently has a brother, and that brother is Credence. That’s literally where Fantastic Beasts 2 ends, and you may have some questions. While we’ve already broken down that specific ending, here we wanted to dive into what we do and don’t know about Dumbledore’s family history, so we can make some sense of just what in the world is going on here.

So at the end of Fantastic Beasts 2, Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) tells Credence (Ezra Miller) that the troubled kid’s true name is Aurelius Dumbledore, referring to Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) as his brother. Does the name Aurelius Dumbledore appear in the books? No, it does not! This is brand new information, revealed by author and Fantastic Beasts 2 screenwriter J.K. Rowling. We’ve never before heard any mention of Dumbledore having a second brother, let alone a sibling named Aurelius. So what we learn in Fantastic Beasts 2 about Aurelius is literally all we know.

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Image via Warner Bros.

But Albus did have siblings. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was born in 1881, followed by Aberforth Dumbledore a couple years later and finally Ariana Dumbledore a couple years after that. Their parents were Kendra and Percival Dumbledore. Kendra was Muggle-born, while Percival was a wizard.

When Ariana was six years old, she was attacked by three Muggle boys who saw her performing magic. This had a traumatizing effect on the child that left her forever changed, unable to control her magic. As we learned in the first Fantastic Beats movie, Ariana was likely an Obscurial—one whose suppression of magic creates an uncontrollable force.

After the attack against Ariana, Dumbledore’s father Percival attacked her assailants in a fit of rage, resulting in his arrest by the Ministry of Magic. He was sentenced to Azkaban prison, where he later died, leaving Kendra to take care of the family. It’s also worth noting that Percival never admitted to authorities why he attacked the Muggles, so he could maintain the secret of Ariana’s condition lest she be sent to an asylum. As a result, some believed Percival to be a believer in blood purity, given his seemingly random Muggle attack.

When Ariana was 14, one of her magical outbursts killed her mother Kendra, and Albus—who had just graduated from Hogwarts—was forced to move home to care for Ariana. Albus resented this fact, and it was during his time at home in Godric’s Hollow that he befriended and fell in love with another young wizard, Gellert Grindelwald.

The young Grindelwald had ideas of wizard domination, asserting that Muggles were unfit to rule the world and the situation could be improved by pureblood wizards taking over. Albus sparked to these ideas, and the two began researching the Deathly Hallows—something Albus’ brother, Aberforth, did not like. One day, when Aberforth confronted Albus about his and Grindelwald’s plans, a three-way duel broke out. Ariana tried to intervene but was hit with a curse and killed. No one was sure whose curse it was that killed the young girl, but Grindelwald immediately fled, Albus’ relationship with Aberforth became more strained, and Albus himself carried with him deep regret for the rest of his life.

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Image via Warner Bros.

So, where does Aurelius come in? That we don’t know. It’s revealed in Fantastic Beasts 2 that Baby Credence/Aurelius was on the same ship as Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz) and her half-brother, Corvus Lestrange Jr. When the ship was sinking (side note: Was this the Titanic? It was probably the Titanic), Leta swapped out her real brother for a stranger’s baby, which happened to be Credence. So she brought Credence with her to America, and he was then given to the abusive Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), who raised him. We don’t learn in Fantastic Beasts 2 who was carrying Baby Credence on that ship, but we see what appears to be his mother/caretaker drowning in the water as she tries to rescue what she thinks is her baby (other side note: a lotta kids die in this movie).

The Harry Potter lore that’s been written does not mention Dumbledore having another brother, so a few possibilities regarding how Aurelius came about are out there. One possibility is that either Kendra and/or Percival had another child in secret, though this is complicated by the fact that Percival spent most of Albus’ life in prison and Kendra died while Albus was at school. Moreover, does Albus then know of this child’s existence? Is that why he sent Newt to New York to find Credence?

Another possibility is that Grindelwald is lying. We know Grindelwald can be persuasive, and the entire reason he needs Credence is because he believes Credence is the only one who can defeat Albus Dumbledore. How does this explain the phoenix in that final scene from Fantastic Beasts 2? Well Grindelwald is an extremely powerful wizard, so perhaps he conjured it.

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Image via Warner Bros.

But there’s a third possibility that’s very interesting: Credence himself isn’t Albus’ brother, but the Obscurus within him is actually Ariana’s Obscurus. The timeline of this is a little wonky, but it would likely come as welcome news to fans who aren’t crazy about this retconning of Dumbledore’s backstory with a secret brother. We know from Fantastic Beasts 1 that when the host Obscurial dies, the Obscurus typically vanishes with them, but Newt was able to keep one Obscurus alive when the host child died. So how would Ariana’s Obscurus get to Baby Credence? It’s hard to know, but it feels like a genuine possibility.

Whatever the case, it’s clear this Dumbledore brother reveal is part of Rowling’s overall plans for the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which is intended to span five films. After The Crimes of Grindelwald, we have Credence and Queenie having chosen Grindelwald’s side, which complicates matters going forward. It’s no longer Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, but a battle over these particular souls as Grindelwald forges ahead with his plan to put wizards in charge of the world. And, perhaps, a chance for Dumbledore to save a close family member and rectify a past wrong.

For more on Fantastic Beasts 2, peruse links to our recent coverage below:

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