6 burning questions raised by the first Fantastic Beasts photo

Where is Eddie Redmayne standing? What are those birds behind him? And what's going on with his wand?

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After months of waiting we’ve finally had our first sneak peek at Fantastic Beasts – or rather the magizoologist who’s off to find them.

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But rather than sating our appetites for wizarding world knowledge, a glimpse of Newt Scamander against a gloriously gilded backdrop  – that must have cost a fair few gold galleons – has only set our minds racing.

We’ve got some questions, we’re DEMANDING answers, and Newt Scamander must NOT tell lies…

1. Where is Newt? 

We already knew this film would spend some time in the States (and feature an American magical school like Hogwarts), but it now seems like Newt is spending a bit of time at the US Congress – at least based on the Congressional seal he’s standing on. 

However, this isn’t our Muggle version of the US Congress, but rather an American version of the UK’s Ministry of Magic (called the Magical Congress of the United States of America, or MACUSA, according to Entertainment Weekly).

After all, the logo in the seal he’s standing on – some sort of nice starry ladder – is far more magical than the eagle used by the real government building (see above).

The MACUSA is apparently housed within New York’s Woolworth Building. The skyscraper is no stranger to magic, having served as the site of the final battle in Disney’s Enchanted. You never know when you might run into a dragon in downtown NYC.

2. What are those birds?

The birds flanking the staircases behind Newt are almost definitely Phoenixes, and they seem to be following the design of those in earlier movies (like Dumbledore’s bird Fawkes).

The fact that they feature so prominently in this hall, however, raises some interesting questions. Is this a hint that we’ll be seeing the fiery feathered fellas as one of the Fantastic Beasts in the movies? Or just a reveal that American wizards are just as into bird iconography as their Muggle counterparts (see above), but prefer a Phoenix over an Eagle?

Fawkes is ready for his close-up

And (most pressingly of all) – considering that Phoenixes’ cycle of birth and death technically make them immortal – could Fawkes have modelled for the statues back in the film’s 1920s timeline? We might have to wait for the DVD commentary to find out the asnwer to that one…

3. What kind of wand is that?

They say the wand chooses the wizard so what kind of wand would Newt Scamander wield?

Well, judging by the light colour of the wood our best guess is something like vine wood (that’s what Hermione’s light coloured wand was made of, as you can see below, left) with perhaps a similar dragon heartstring core? 

Or how about Neville Longbottom’s first wand (above right)? That seemed to have a darker hilt, just like Newt’s, and was passed down to him by his Auror father, Frank Longbottom. Frank and Alice Longbottom managed to evade Voldemort three times, an exploit worthy of a fine and powerful wand.

Perhaps Newt has one just like it himself. 

4. Where is Newt going?

Redmayne’s Scamander has packed his case and looks about ready to head off on his travels in the new picture, and this is in keeping with the original novella the new movie is based on (which was published for Comic Relief in 2001). 

According to the book, Newt’s journey to categorise the many magical animals of the world took several years of travel across five continents, including America.

Notably, within the Harry Potter universe the book was commissioned in 1918 by a Mr Augustus Worme of Obscurus books, and considering the new film takes place in 1926 (and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was published in 1927), we could also assume the film sees Newt towards the end of his trip. Maybe America was his last stop?

That said, the original novella was also a short one-off joke textbook without any overt links to American wizardry (Newt worked for the UK’s Ministry of Magic), so maybe we shouldn’t go too closely by specific book details for now.

5. What’s in the suitcase?

Could there be a very early edition of Fantastic Beasts packed inside that little suitcase? We know, according to Newt himself, that Fantastic Beasts was commissioned in 1918 and finished in 1927 (see above), so if the film catches up with him in the 1920s he’s surely started scribbling his notes down already.

And while we’re on the subject of the bag, is there any chance he might have used an Undetectable Extension Charm to give his case limitless depths, much like Hermione did in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (see above)? Heaven knows how many magical wonders could be hidden in Scamander’s hand luggage. 

6. Why does he look so much like the Doctor?

We’re not sure – but the resemblance is uncanny

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in 2016