[Beware: there are Fantastic Beast spoilers below]
If you were one of the people who contributed to giving Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them its solid (though not Harry Potter-explosive) opening weekend at the box office, you already know that the movie is an odd pairing of a narrative about catching cute, wiggling, jewelry-thieving beasts…and a dark wizard exploiting an abused, oppressed teenager as a means of rising to power in the mid-1920s. If you hadn’t thought this second narrative, about the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (played by Johnny Depp, in another of those trademark crazy costumes…), was allegorically reflective of the rise of a certain Adolf Hitler around the same time, a new series of Tweets from J.K. Rowling suggests the Fantastic Beasts franchise is very much a WWII narrative… you know, apart from the whole “let’s catch those wacky beasts and get them back in their suitcase” aspect.
Yesterday, the author — who’s also previously spoken about the films being about the usage of hate to manipulate “populist” sentiment in… certain societies today — answered fan questions on Twitter. In one Tweet, she said that the series was originally going to be a trilogy, but then after all the plotting was done, it became clear that “there’s just too much story” — and so five movies were planned. She also revealed to one fan that Queenie — played by Alison Sudol — will be back in the second film, that Newt Scamander was a Hufflepuff (which previously seemed code for “kind but insignificant”), and most notably:
The interesting/odd thing here is that, reading the first books, the rise of Voldemort and the Death Eaters itself always seemed allegorical for the rise of the Third Reich…so it leaves a lot of questions open as to how much she’ll actually decide to merge a similar story-line with the actual Nazism (and whether such a thing is something anyone wants told in a less allegorical fashion through a wizard-world lens), given that the magical world equivalent will be happening simultaneously.
The Harry Potter books discussed the massive duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald (with whom Dumbledore was formerly in love) that happened in 1945. Dumbledore obviously emerged victorious, and the Wizarding WWII equivalent (er, the other one, that is) was ended; presumably, then, that battle will happen in the fifth film.
So, yeah, if Rowling thoughfully hones her tone and the balance between real world history and wizard lore (a balance that wasn’t quite struck in the first installment), later chapters could feel more substantial, especially if the political implications don’t just seem peppered into the storyline. But if she’s not careful, her mixture of really dark history (as well as commentary on contemporary U.S./British political trends) and cute beasts could be deeply trivializing. She’s clearly taking on quite a challenge; that, itself, is at least intriguing.