Over the last few days, the trickle of information about JK Rowling’s Harry Potter movie follow-up Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has turned into a torrent, with pictures, logos and story details from the film released with reckless abandon for fans’ nerves.
Now, Entertainment Weekly has released the basic plot of the 1926-set magical movie – and frankly to me it sounds an awful lot like a cross between a certain group of mutant superheroes and a kids’ trading card game.
Before you call the men in white coats, let me explain. According to the summary, the film will see British magizoologist Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) turn up in New York for some reason or other, lugging with him a certain suitcase that’s bigger on the inside.
Newt with his magical suitcase
No, forget the Doctor Who references – this suitcase has an Undetectable Extension Charm like Hermione’s bag in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which RadioTimes.com totally predicted, by the way), to the extent that it can contain “expansive habitats for a collection of rare and endangered magical creatures from Newt’s travels around [the] globe.”
Now to me this case sounds rather similar to a Poké Ball (see below), the small spherical technology used by trainers to catch and store the super-powered animal Pokémon found in the TV, trading card and video game series that took the world by storm in the 1990s.
Apparently Newt will even have to “catch em’ all” (as is the Pokémon slogan) when his suitcase of magical creatures escape to wreak havoc in magic-fearing America – it’s so Nintendo it hurts.
Now, that magic-fearing is where the X-Men themes come in; we already knew that American wizards in the film will call their versions of ordinary humans No-Maj (no magic, geddit?), rather than Muggles, but it turns out this isn’t the only way the non-magical differ across the Pond. In Fantastic Beasts, American wizards are even more terrified of exposure than their British counterparts (let’s not forget the historic Salem witch trials), with the whole country described as firmly “wiz-phobic” and the magical community keeping their skills under wraps.
So they’re a bunch of Americans with special powers that put them above humanity, who are forced to hide their abilities in the face of an ordinary populace that hates and fears them. Sounds pretty familiar, eh? How about sticking Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in there with a couple of wands (or lovely hats).
An artist’s impression
So, there you have it – X-Men and Pokémon and Harry Potter, all mashed together to make a world-beating fan franchise that will probably sell more merchandise than all three properties combined. If we’re not seeing Magneto take on the Elite Four by the film’s end, I’ll be very surprised.
Now, to play us out…
Newt wants to be the very best,
Like no one ever was.
To catch them is his real test,
Describe them is his cause.
He will travel across the land,
Searching far and wide.
Each magic beast to understand
The power that’s inside
Magic Beasts, (gotta catch them all) its Newt and me
I know its his destiny
Magic Beasts, oh, Newt’s our best friend
In a world we must defend
Magic Beasts, (gotta catch them all) a heart so true
Our courage will pull us through
Newt teach me and I’ll teach Newt
(Ma-Gic Beasts) Gotta catch ’em all!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released in 2016