Major spoilers from Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them ahead! Read only if you've seen the movie or (at the very least) read the screenplay book!
How exactly is Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them going to span five movies? When news broke that the expected trilogy was being expanded even further, we were left to wonder just what J.K. Rowling had in store for us with these films. Rowling herself took to Twitter to assure her fans that when we realized what story she's really telling, we'd understand that it can't possibly fit into one movie. That was our first clue that Fantastic Beasts most likely wouldn't be solely focused on Newt trying to round up escaped magical beasts.
Of course, since the very mention of their names in the trailers, there's been plenty of speculation that Grindelwald and Dumbledore's epic duel might eventually factor into the equation. That theory is still on the table, and supported even further by J.K. Rowling's confirmation of a 19-year stretch of time to play out between the first Fantastic Beasts film and the last, which would bring the setting of the movie from 1926 to 1945, the year Dumbledore and Grindelwald are set to face off.
Grindelwald may prove to be the main villain in this series, but what is the main story being told here? And will Newt Scamander be at the center of all of it? Or should we be looking more closely at another character?
Ezra Miller's character's story seemed to wrap up at the end of the first Fantastic Beasts film when, after facing off with Grindelwald (disguised as Percival Graves), the aurors of MACUSA pummel his Obscurus form with spells until he seems to explode into feathery-like matter all over the place. That's the last we see of Credence.
RIP Credence? Eh, that part's not exactly clear. In fact, given the close-ups we got of some of the actually-deceased characters in Fantastic Beasts, it's all the more suspicious that Credence's death wouldn't be made wholly apparent. So we could speculate that he's still alive. But speculation is virtually unnecessary, considering David Heyman told us they originally had a scene near the end of the movie that showed Credence boarding a ship, possibly with Newt. And that Ezra Miller's character will appear in future films, from the sound of it, rather prominently. So it seems like a safe bet to say that Credence survived the assault. And if that's the case, it's very possible he'll prove to be an even bigger presence in the films to come.
There are a couple of reasons Credence makes total sense as a central character for these movies, but before we get to that, I want to share something David Yates said at the press roundtables during the Fantastic Beasts junket, which may support the idea that J.K. Rowling plans to make these films Credence's story.
To be clear on the context, Davids Yates and Heyman were talking about J.K. Rowling's attempts at getting the screenplay right, and learning the process of telling a story for film. New to screenwriting, it sounds like Rowling was a quick study on the medium, and in the process of writing and re-writing, she worked her way to the Credence arc, which, from the sound of it, was something she was very passionate about...
The phrasing that caught my attention there is "once she found a story that she really wanted to tell, passionately, which centers on Credence ultimately, she flew..." Of course, he's speaking specifically about the first film, not the whole series. But knowing that this is a story J.K. Rowling felt passionate about telling, I can't help but wonder if that interest is what built out this series from a planned trilogy to five films.
Should that prove to be accurate, and Fantastic Beasts will follow Credence's story, I don't think it means Newt Scamander will be sidelined entirely. In fact, David Yates has said Newt will remain a central part of the story, along with other characters. And after seeing the first film, I can easily see Newt, Tina, Queenie and Jacob leading the remaining four films, but that doesn't rule out the possibility that the fate of Credence won't be the central conflict in this series. If anything, the character is set up rather perfectly for such a story.
For one thing, it's impossible to ignore a few major similarities Credence shares with Harry Potter and Tom Riddle. Not only does he share their physical description of fare skin and dark hair, but he's also an orphan who grew up separated from the magical community, and without a loving family environment to nurture him. The latter scenario is actually a cause that's proven to be near and dear to J.K. Rowling's heart. Take a look at the Lumos foundation for evidence of that. Given what we know of her as a writer and a philanthropist, I have no doubt that Rowling feels passionately about Credence, and what might become of him.
On the similarities between Credence, Harry and Tom Riddle, in Credence's case, his only proximity to witches and wizards comes through his adoptive mother's blatant intolerance of them, and unlike Tom and Harry, Credence never got the opportunity to study at wizarding school. However, that makes him even more intriguing as a character addition to the Harry Potter universe. Tom Riddle and Harry Potter were both given the opportunity to study magic. One took that opportunity and went on to become a hero. The other took that opportunity and went on to become a villain. Credence didn't get that opportunity, so what does he become? An obscurial for one thing, but that's not his choice. What is his choice?