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J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World began back with the first Harry Potter novel, and has continued to expand in the years since the Boy Who Lived first entranced audiences. Rowling has continued to grow the brand through the Pottermore website, Cursed Child plays, and theme parks. But all eyes are currently fixated on the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which has been planned to span five blockbusters over the next few years. The most recent addition to the property was The Crimes of Grindelwald, which brought Johnny Depp's titular villain and Jude Law's young Albus Dumbledore to theaters.
The relationship between Grindelwald and Dumbledore is one that's expected to be fleshed out in the coming movies, as J.K. Rowling had previously revealed that its at least partly romantic in nature. But The Crimes of Grindelwald didn't get into that at all, at least until Rowling recorded her director's commentary for the home release. In it, she spoke about their relationship, saying:
Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate, and it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can’t know, you can believe you know. So I’m less interested in the sexual side – though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship – than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.
This quote has sparked some big reactions online and resulted in an endless supply of memes and X-rated twitter responses. There's some anger being directed at J.K. Rowling for reasons she doesn't deserve, although I do have a few issues with these recent revelations. Because there is a way to handle this complex relationship properly.
One problem I have with J.K. Rowling's commentary is that she is telling us about Dumbledore and Grindelwald's relationship after the fact. The two didn't share any real scenes in The Crimes of Grindelwald, which prevented their love/hate dynamic from being properly fleshed out. While she may have wanted to keep that reunion for a later movie, neither of the characters explained their relationship through exposition. In fact, you could have watched the sequel in its entirety without realizing that the hatred between Dumbledore and Grindelwald also comes with feelings of love.
If the two wizard's ill-fated love was so integral to the story, J.K. Rowling should have taken the time to directly address it in The Crimes of Grindelwald. Instead, it was expanded in the film's commentary, after its long run in theaters. In fact, the writer revealed Dumbledore's sexuality in a similar fashion, after the narrative of the original novels wrapped.
Then there's the comments about the intense 'sexual dimension' to Grindelwald and Dumbledore's relationship. While claiming she's less interested in that facet of their dynamic, it was odd that she mentioned sex at all. Harry Potter is not a franchise that focuses on sexuality much. Sure, the kids snog a bit in the novels, but it never gets past that. As such, fans (including myself) were perplexed that Dumbledore and Grindelwald's sex life was addressed so directly. We don't know basically anything about them as a couple thanks to their lack of screen time, and yet the fandom is now aware of how the beloved Headmaster gets down in the magical sheets.
It'll be interesting to see how the story of the Fantastic Beasts franchise continues its life on screen, as J.K. Rowling has quite a few balls in the air, narratively. And with all this controversy surrounding Dumbledore and Grindelwald's past, the iconic writer may have to adjust her approach to their relationship.