Today, Warner Bros. revealed key plot details for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As the newest entry in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and arguably Warner Bros.’ biggest franchise, this is a big deal in the movie industry. So here’s the new information WB revealed:
“At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.
In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.”
In addition to plot details, Warner Bros. released a cast photo with some key character descriptions (check out Jude Law as Young Dumbledore).
“JUDE LAW plays a young ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, taking on the mantle of one of J.K. Rowling’s most beloved characters; EZRA MILLER makes a return as the enigmatic CREDENCE, whose fate was unknown at the end of the first film; CLAUDIA KIM appears as a Maledictus, the carrier of a blood curse that destines her ultimately to transform into a beast; ZOË KRAVITZ plays LETA LESTRANGE, who had once been close to Newt Scamander but is now engaged to his brother; CALLUM TURNER joins the cast as Newt’s older brother, THESEUS SCAMANDER, a celebrated war hero and the Head of the Auror Office at the British Ministry of Magic; KATHERINE WATERSTON returns as TINA GOLDSTEIN, who has been reinstated as an Auror for MACUSA; EDDIE REDMAYNE stars again as wizarding world Magizoologist NEWT SCAMANDER, who has now gained fame in the wizarding world as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; DAN FOGLER reprises the role of the only No-Maj in the group, JACOB KOWALSKI; ALISON SUDOL reprises the part of Tina’s free-spirited sister, QUEENIE GOLDSTEIN, a Legilimens who can read minds; and JOHNNY DEPP returns as the powerful Dark wizard GELLERT GRINDELWALD in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD.”
But our question is: why keep Depp in such a crucial role at all? Is it really worth the headache?
The actor is still facing questions over Amber Heard’s accusations of domestic abuse, not to mention his ongoing legal battles with his former management company. All in all, Depp brings more controversy to the role than he’s currently worth. He hasn’t been a big box office draw in years—the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is producing diminishing returns and Alice Through the Looking Glass flopped—and 2015’s Black Mass was the last good movie he’s made in almost a decade. Fantastic Beasts made $814 million with just a cameo from Depp, so it’s not as if he’s integral to the bottom line. He’s still a talented performer, but he isn’t the buzzy name he once was and he very well could be a domestic abuser.
And it’s not as if WB couldn’t find a suitable replacement; they had one in the original Fantastic Beasts. Colin Farrell, who played the character for nearly the entire film before the big twist reveal, is no saint himself, but he isn’t accompanied by the same type of polarizing baggage as Depp is right now. Farrell is also a perpetually underrated actor who could carry on the role with aplomb. His turn in the first film was well-received and keeping him around wouldn’t confuse audiences.
Is Depp really worth the backlash being kicked up by some fans? Warner Bros. seems to think so, but just in case, they have the perfect replacement already in house.