The Fantastic Beasts franchise has had its fair share of struggles since the beginning, though the series may have one of its biggest hurdles to overcome after Johnny Depp's exit. The actor will no longer play Gellert Grindelwald, which leaves the franchise forced to search for another actor to play the character since Fantastic Beasts 3 is pushing ahead. Fortunately, this isn't a task the Harry Potter spinoff film series is too unfamiliar with, considering they've already recast the role once before.
As fans are well aware, Colin Farrell was initially brought into Fantastic Beasts as Percival Graves. Towards the end of the first film, it was revealed that had merely been an alias, and that Percival was actually Grindelwald, which is when we saw the Johnny Depp transformation. Now, I'm of the opinion it's time for Grindelwald to switch back, and while it's been said Farrell may not be an option to return due to his commitment to The Batman, and Mads Mikkelsen could end up taking the role, here's why I think the franchise should make every effort to bring Farrell back.
Switch Him Once, Shame On You, Switch Him Twice...
The biggest argument I'd make towards making a push for Colin Farrell to return to Fantastic Beasts is the fact that we've already seen Grindelwald's face change once. As previously mentioned, the reason in the story is that Grindelwald was hiding his true identity, and at the first film's end, Johnny Depp's sudden appearance gave us our first look at the character's true face.
Unfortunately, now that Johnny Depp is gone from the role, Fantastic Beasts 3 is now tasked with changing Grindelwald again, which complicates things for the audience. Because he had already changed forms once, moviegoers not in the know may assume this latest switch is related to Grindelwald once again changing his identity. This isn't the case, of course, but when the plot has already set a precedent for this type of thing, is it really a weird assumption to make?
By reverting Grindelwald back to Colin Farrell, I believe there's a way to integrate the story and show that Grindelwald himself is not someone to be trusted, and is generally an unstable person. Turning him into a third person could also make that point, but then I think you run the risk of people questioning if we'll ever see Grindelwald's real face. What's perhaps even worse is that stunt casting the character will become a trend for the franchise for however long it may run, which would be exhausting.
With that being said, I do think bringing in someone like Mads Mikkelsen would mitigate some of the issues of confusion in switching actors yet again. The world didn't collectively lose its mind when Michael Gambon stepped in Richard Harris, though admittedly, a lot of Dumbledore's features were masked by a hat, beard and spectacles. Mikkelsen certainly wouldn't be a dead ringer for Depp, which still makes me more on board with bringing Colin Farrell back if it's possible.
Colin Farrell's Performance Remains One Of The Franchise's Shining Performances
Another reason Colin Farrell should return to the series is that, in my opinion, he's delivered one of the franchise's best performances to date. That may be a hot take considering the talent in this franchise, but I've spoken my piece about how Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander is a disappointing character to anchor the franchise on. What really needs to be said is that Depp's Grindelwald created a weird vibe for a Harry Potter villain, and that Farrell's villainy felt a bit more on-brand.
That on-brand villainy largely consisting of a figure in the magical government falsely accusing others of a crime, and then ultimately being responsible for all the wrongdoing this whole time. Even the twist that he was Grindelwald was on brand, though it would've been so much better if they'd not changed the actor completely. It's possible for Grindelwald to be deranged and a radical, and still fall within the scope of characters Colin Farrell can portray.
I think the thing I liked most about Colin Farrell's Grindelwald portrayal was that judging on appearance alone, he didn't look like an obvious villain. If there's one complaint I have about the world of Harry Potter (and I have a few), it's that the people who obviously look like villains more often than not are just that. Depp's Grindelwald looks like someone who is obviously working in the best interest of dark wizards, so it would've been nice for him to retain the Farrell look, even if he appeared a bit more unhinged.
Johnny Depp's portrayal, in my opinion, came off a bit cartoony. It certainly was not a performance that effectively underscored the dangerous nature of Grindelwald, though he did capture the deranged part well enough. I just feel like Grindelwald came off a little too crazy considering how much he accomplished in his run. I think Colin Farrell would've been a bit better in the overall presentation of the character, if only to show the composed character giving way to a more deranged and radical personality.
How Colin Farrell Could Still Return To Fantastic Beasts Even If He's Not Grindelwald
Right now, it's looking unlikely that Colin Farrell will be able to sacrifice time from The Batman to reprise his role for Fantastic Beasts 3. With that said, there's still a chance that he could one day return to the franchise if we refer back to the original Fantastic Beasts. The reason why Percival Graves was such a convincing disguise for Grindelwald is that Percival Graves was a real person working for MACUSA.
A real person, I might add, that we never learned the fate of. It's assumed that Grindelwald killed Percival before assuming his identity, though one has reason to believe that's not true. After all, Grindelwald would need to study the movements and mannerisms of his subject in order to effectively mimic him and infiltrate MACUSA. My point being, there's a chance Percival is still alive somewhere, similar to what happened when Mad-Eye Moody was impersonated by Barty Crouch Jr.
So if it is truly impossible for Colin Farrell to return as a form of Grindelwald, I'm all about the actor returning to play the actual Percival Graves. As to whether or not it'll be something that happens, I cannot say, especially given the story shifting to focus more on Dumbledore. I'd still love to see Farrell return to the franchise though either way, so I'll continue to advocate for it.