Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is building up to be a disappointment before it’s even released. First, we have to deal with Johnny Depp playing the villain, and even if you want to set aside the allegations of domestic abuse, he’s still an actor who clearly has nothing left in the tank. His performances have become dull and predictable, and he hasn’t been a box office draw for years. In a world full of magic, you could easily recast the role with minimal explanation, but no, we’re sticking with Johnny Depp to play Gellert Grindelwald.
But once you’ve cleared that hurdle, here comes another one. About ten years ago, J.K. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore was gay, and he specifically had a love affair with Gellert Grindelwald in his youth. Since The Crimes of Grindelwald will include Jude Law playing a young Dumbledore, it stood to reason that we see that homosexuality compared to the old, celibate Dumbledore of the Harry Potter franchise. Nope! Director David Yates tells EW that’s not going to happen:
“Not explicitly,” Yates replied when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”
Yates then added a bit more about what Dumbledore is like in the new film: “He’s a maverick and a rebel and he’s an inspiring teacher at Hogwarts. He’s witty and has a bit of edge. He’s not this elder statesman. He’s a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing.”
This seems like a whiff on Dumbledore’s sexuality for no reason. I’m not saying that Dumbledore has to be making out with every guy that he meets, but why keep hiding his homosexuality? Why not be explicit? One could argue that because of the time period, it would be frowned upon to be an openly gay man, but he’s a goddamn wizard! What muggle is going to stop him from hitting on a guy?
The frustration here is that Rowling would like credit for creating an inclusive world where the villains are people who seek to exclude others whether it’s Grindelwald or Voldemort, who both believe that wizards should rule over muggles, and Voldemort’s belief that only “pure-blood” wizards are worth protecting. And yet when given the option to actually be inclusive, Rowling hedges. She’s the screenwriter here, and given her reputation, she has a lot of power in her relationship with Warner Bros. But instead, she decides to keep Dumbledore closeted for the benefit of no one.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens November 16th.