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With the arrival of a set of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them character posters brings new clues about what's in store for our return to the Harry Potter universe. That includes a rather telling symbol in the poster for Colin Farrell's Percival Graves.
If you look at each of the posters over at EW, you'll see that, amidst some details about the plot of the movie (wanted posters for Newt, Jacob and Tina, Second Salem posters, etc), each poster has some imagery that seems customized to that particular character. Dan Fonger's Jacob is standing in a bakery setting, while Ron Perlman's Gnarlak has playing cards over his head. Alison Sudol's Queen has a set of Charms books behind her, while Katherine Waterston's Tina stands before MACUSA's threat alert clock. What's behind Graves? Besides a banged-up looking New York City, there's a very familiar symbol literally dangling in our faces. The Deathly Hallows.
If your memory of the Harry Potter books or movies is rusty, that symbol is associated with two things. The first is the quest for the Deathly Hallows - the possibly mythical (though we know otherwise) Elder Wand (line), Invisibility Cloak (triangle) and Resurrection Stone (circle). The other association is Gellert Grindelwald.
As Victor Krum revealed to Harry at Fleur and Bill's wedding in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the symbol of the Deathly Hallows was long considered to be Gellert Grindelwald's mark. Kids at Durmstrang used to graffiti the symbol. We learned later that the reason that symbol was associated with the dark wizard was because Grindelwald, like Dumbledore, actively sought the Deathly Hallows.
So, what does Fantastic Beasts' Percival Graves have to do with that? That's unclear right now, though the symbol on the poster suggests we'll get more information in the movie. For now, it poses a few key questions about Colin Farrell's character:
Is Graves seeking the Deathly Hallows?
Is Graves a Gellert Grindelwald supporter?
Or is Graves preparing to join the fight against Grindelwald?
We may or many not get the answers to those questions in Fantastic Beasts. But for now, let's take a look at some of the things we do know about Percival Graves and Gellert Grindelwald.
1) Percival Graves is the descendant of one of the original United States aurors, Gondulphus Graves.
That's confirmed in J.K. Rowling's recent Pottermore essay about MACUSA. Based on that, the fact that he works as an Auror for MACUSA, and that his accent sounds American, it seems safe to assume Percival Graves is American.
Why might that be relevant?
Well, it suggests he's pretty deeply rooted in the U.S. Does that mean he can't also be on the hunt for the Hallows or a Grindelwald supporter? No, but I imagine his job keeps him pretty busy, which might make it difficult for him to try to conquer death on the side. It may also be a fair assumption that the Hallows are presumed to be somewhere in Europe, where Grindelwald is looking for them. Of course, it's not out of the question that one or more made their way to the states at some point or another. And just as possible that Graves is traveling to Europe in his off hours.
2) MACUSA is aware of Gellert Grindelwald, and that he's a threat that could result in war.
In one of the trailers MACUSA president Seraphina Picquery is seen frantically saying, "If this is related to Grindelwald's attacks in Europe, this could mean war."
Why is this relevant?
The expressed concern may have just been a nod to the time period and the connection this film has to the Harry Potter universe. But it also could be a strong indication that Grindelwald poses a major threat to the magical community, which might not exclude the United States. As a high-ranking employee at MACUSA, Graves would be aware of that. And possibly involved in preventative measures, should Grindelwald decide to cross the pond at some point during his quest.
3) Percival Graves is in touch with aurors in the U.K. Or, at least one auror.
One of the things Colin Farrell told us when we were on the set of Fantastic Beasts last December, was that Graves has been in touch with Newt's brother Theseus, who's not only a "very, very powerful auror," but also a commander, presumably for the Ministry of Magic. Farrell says Graves doesn't know Newt, but there's "a fondness" from his character for Newt, which would suggest Graves is on good terms with Theseus.
Why is that relevant?
Well, we don't know that the reason Graves is in touch with aurors in Europe is specifically due to Grindelwald, but given that appears to be the budding crisis in the U.K., it's entirely possible that the Ministry of Magic has been giving MACUSA updates on the situation, or even potentially seeking their assistance in fighting Grindelwald and his supporters.
4) Graves is tired of hiding in the shadows and bowing down.
Hiding from who? And bowing to what?
This stems from the final trailer, in which Graves is seen telling Ezra Miller's Credence "We've lived in the shadows for too long." And later saying, "I refuse to bow down any longer." These are brief glimpses in the trailer, which offer very little context as to their meaning. But we can make some guesses as to what he's talking about, and add it to the pile of information to consider.
Why might it be relevant?
Those two brief moments could be a pretty strong counterpoint to the theory that Graves is preparing to fight Grindelwald, and big point toward the argument that he's actually a Grindy fan. Based on those snippets, there seems to be some frustration brewing inside Graves. All signs point to MACUSA's highest priority being to maintain secrecy between No-Majes and wizards, which could be an irritating prospect for the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, if they're constantly made to prioritize the welfare (and intended obliviousness) of no-majes above everything else. So, it seems like a fair guess to say that these clips suggest Graves might be fed up with wizards being in the shadows, or otherwise hunted.
That brings us to the final point, which was Grindelwald's objective...
5) Gellert Grindelwald seeks to end magical secrecy and put wizards back on top.
Though Grindelwald sought to conquer death, keep in mind that he and Dumbledore also once sought to end the International Statute of Secrecy, which keeps muggles more or less in the dark about the existence of magic. Grindelwald wanted to change things so that wizards would be dominant over muggles. In other words, no more "bowing down." If the teases in the final trailer are actually hints that Colin Farrell's character wants some changes to be made, Graves could very well turn out to be a Grindelwald supporter. Or at the very least, someone who's starting to see a bit of the "greater good" in Grindelwald's objective.
All of this is just theory and speculation, but given what we know about J.K. Rowling's writing style -- she did pen the screenplay for this movie, and the one that's expected to follow -- everything means something. And things aren't always as they seem.
Knowing that the situation with Grindelwald will escalate through the next couple of decades in this timeline (to the 1940s), and as we gather clues about this movie, and about Colin Farrell's character, it's certainly adding fuel to the wishful thinking that Fantastic Beasts will develop stronger ties to the Harry Potter world, as the franchise moves forward. This could be one major way to merge the two stories. But we'll have to wait and see how it plays out.
It's really a matter of weeks until we get some answers. I want to believe Colin Farrell's character is and will remain a good guy, but I reserve the right to change that opinion if it suits the story. The actor is certainly capable of playing it either way.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them arrives in theaters November 18.