WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, in theaters now.
Having cameo appearances of fan-favorite witches and wizards in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald makes perfect sense. It’s a chance to further explore the Wizarding World and meet people we’ve only ever heard about in passing. It’s the entire idea behind basing the movies around Newt Scamander. Even one of the best moments of the film is such a moment, introducing audiences to the frail but honorable Nicolas Flamel.
But there’s one cameo that, despite the temptation, the filmmakers shouldn’t have put into the movie. Professor Minerva McGonagall was one of the most definitive teachers at Hogwarts in the original Harry Potter series. But by introducing her as a teacher at the school during the 1930’s, writer JK Rowling removes much of the pathos she gave the character’s backstory in other released material. McGonagall shouldn’t have shown up at Hogwarts.
Enemy, Thy Name Is Continuity
In the build-up to Crimes of Grindelwald, many hardcore fans have pointed out that Rowling has been casually tweaking and changing the canon of the series to simplify things for the film. An early example of this came with the release of the first trailer. A longstanding rule of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is that it’s impossible to apparate (teleport) onto the school grounds. That element of the world played a part in many of the mysteries that Harry Potter found himself trying to uncover during the course of the original series.
So, when the first trailer for Crimes of Grindelwald showed a group of wizards casually apparating onto the school grounds, fans were in an uproar. While the movies have deviated from the books in the past, this stood out like a sore thumb to fans of the original series. It removes an interesting element of the original story, just to simplify.
But that small story detail doesn’t compare to the loss of McGonagall’s backstory, which is radically altered by her appearance in the new film.
The Sad Story Of Minerva McGonagall
Pottermore, like the script for Crimes of Grindelwald, was written by series creator J.K. Rowling. On the site, Rowling has revealed the details behind many of the unspoken pieces of Harry Potter lore. This includes the life of McGonagall, which had shaded her actions and made the fierce but maternal teacher all the more compelling.
The site revealed that McGonagall was born in 1935, the daughter of a witch and her husband, a Muggle Presbyterian minister. From the beginning, that sets up a dichotomy to the character that makes for an interesting comparison. How would a man of the church respond to his wife (and newborn daughter) were witches? The relationship managed to survive and even led to two more children, but living in hiding had a deep impact on her mother, Isobel.