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Consider these words a protection spell and turn back now if you haven't seen Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. This article is packed with SPOILERS but feel free to come back when you have seen it!
Remember the good old days when the Harry Potter films would sentimentally end on a comfy train home or a set of hopeful words between the beloved trio of friends? Considering the jaw-dropping twists and turns the Fantastic Beasts franchise has left us with, J.K. Rowling is taking us on a completely different journey this time around.
A couple of years ago, 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them brought about the big reveal of Percival Graves actually being a disguised version of Johnny Depp's Gellert Grindelwald -- the most powerful Dark Wizard in the world's history, second only to Lord Voldemort. So when Jude Law was cast as a young Albus Dumbledore for the sequel, it was clear the film would set the stage for the fabled duel between the dark wizard and beloved Hogwarts headmaster. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald had quite a few big moments, namely with the big reveal about Credence's family heritage and it's time to discuss it.
Wait... What Happened?
Turns out the center of Crimes of Grindelwald was Credence Barebone's (Ezra Miller) search to find his true lineage. It sets it up in right away when we catch up with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) at the Ministry of Magic and he is asked to find and kill Credence, which he of course turns down. Credence played a key role in Fantastic Beasts when he was introduced as a wizard adopted by the leader of an anti-witchcraft group and frequently abused by her. This turned him into an Obscurial, which is a child who represses their dark magical energy into a dark parasitic force.
Each of the main characters have a stake in finding Credence, as he is rumored by many to be capable of defeating Albus Dumbledore and also believed to be the long lost brother of Leta Lestrange (Zoe Kravitz), Corvus. Once all the characters cross paths by the third act of the film, Leta unveils a dark secret she has as to why he cannot possibly be her brother. When she was a kid, she couldn't stand her brother Corvus' cries while on a ship to America and she swapped him with baby Credence. But while Credence lay safely next to Leta after the swap, Corvus fell into the Ocean and drowned in front of her eyes.
Credence's quest to find his family posed the perfect way for Grindelwald to lure the Obscurial to him, confidently aware the powerful young wizard will listen and eventually join him as he tried to track him down. After Grindelwald holds a gathering to persuade wizards to rise up against muggles, Credence makes his way to Grindelwald to join him. The dark wizard gives his just what he desires and reveals his true name as Aurelius Dumbledore, the fourth and unheard of brother to Albus.
Albus Dumbledore tells Newt early in the film that phoenixes tend to present themselves to members of his family in times of need. As we know from the Harry Potter books and movies, Albus' animal companion is a phoenix named Fawkes later in life. Credence has a baby raven following him around, symbolizing his potential lineage to the Lestranges as the bird is the family's crest. At the end of the Fantastic Beasts sequel, Grindelwald reveals it to be a phoenix, describing it as his "birthright" along with his family name.
Now, here's where things get a little messy. In the books, Aurelius Dumbledore is never once mentioned and Albus is said to have one brother named Aberforth and a sister named Ariana. According to the timeline of Albus Dumbledore's parents as described in J.K. Rowling's books, his mother Kendra died in an explosion in 1899 and his father Percival was sent to Azkaban for life in 1890. With Credence supposedly 18 years old in the first film set in 1926, he would have been born in 1908. It just doesn't add up unless Percival met another woman in prison or Rowling is downright ignoring her own timeline.
Another possible conclusion is that Grindelwald is lying to poor Credence to get what he wants from him. It is convenient that the young wizard is said to be the only one who can stop Albus Dumbledore and he could have a bone to pick about whoever abandoned him as a child. Grindelwald pointing all fingers in Albus' direction as the one to blame is a clever position for the dark wizard to take and he is established as a villain with a knack for persuasion.
What Does It Mean for Fantastic Beasts 3?
It's safe to say Crimes of Grindelwald will have an immense effect on what happens next for the main characters and the war ahead. Whether Credence is the brother of Albus Dumbledore, the reveal sets up some interesting stakes for the battle at hand and the relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore. Gellert Grindelwald has acquired exactly what he intended on to defeat his rival. However, thanks to a sneaky niffler, Dumbledore and the gang has the blood pact the pair made that stops the both from directly going against one another and Newt and Dumbledore are determined to find a way to destroy it.
The most important take away from the end of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is that this is going to perhaps be a dirty and more complicated fight than we expected. As shown in a short exchange between Dumbledore and Leta, his sister's accidental death is a regret for him, so proof of another sibling would be a poignant truth to learn, especially if he is pitted against him. It could also be a family secret that Grindelwald and Dumbledore know of and uses it to jab and weaken him. As shown in the Mirror of Erised, Gellert Grindelwald is Albus Dumbledore's desperate desire, so the villain has more than one hold on him going into the third installment.
While J.K. Rowling's lore makes it clear that Dumbledore will reign victorious against Grindelwald, the big reveal has her entering uncharted territory and potentially rewriting her own wizarding world history. All our questions will have to wait until Fantastic Beasts 3 comes to theaters on November 20, 2020.