Why Won’t Dumbledore and Grindelwald Share Scenes in “Fantastic Beasts 2”?

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

A weird piece of news broke this week about “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”. Jude Law, who plays Dumbledore in the upcoming movie, stated that he hasn’t actually filmed any scenes with Johnny Depp.

Said Law:

“I don’t actually have any scenes with Johnny. As I said before, this is only Part 2 of a longer story. I’ve always admired him from afar, but we don’t know each other, and I’ve not yet met him on this. In many ways that suits the relationship as it’s been many years since they’ve seen each other. So there’s complexity in that that’s fun to mine. Again, the past will reveal itself.”

Well, that’s odd.

Based on the fact that this movie is called “The Crimes of Grindelwald”, everyone had kind of assumed that Depp, who plays the titular character, would show up a lot in the movie.

We also figured he must logically play off against Law’s Dumbledore, as why introduce both of these characters into the movie series if they’re not going to get up in each other’s business? They are former lovers, after all – their clash seems like it should be the crux of the movie.

Moving Slowly

Law’s comments about the length of the story makes sense to a certain degree. We’re being teased. JK Rowling is offering us a big, climactic battle at some point in the future, but it’s not coming just yet.

All of this makes me wonder if there even is a point to seeing “The Crimes of Grindelwald”. If this is just going to be two hours of set-up for a later movie, can’t we all just skip this and read the film’s Wikipedia page once the next movie comes out?

Deathly Hallows Part 1
Source: Warner Bros

I’m very tired of slow, dull pacing in tentpole films that exist purely to fill time. The worst offender in this series is probably “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” which involves the main cast wandering around in the woods feeling sad until the runtime has been adequately extended and everyone can go home.

Of course, there could be another reason for the lack of hot, steamy Dumbledore-on-Grindelwald action in this movie.

A Fantastic Embarrassment?

The fact that Depp only briefly appears in the movie’s trailer, while Law gets plenty of time to shine, suggests that Grindelwald might not actually be the focus this time around.

We were told, not long after the release of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, that the second movie would steer away from Newt Scamander and his friends in favor of focusing on the feud between Dumbledore and Grindelwald.

From what we’ve seen, while we’ll be getting a fair amount of Dumbledore this time, there might not be all that much of his evil ex-boyfriend.

The Crimes of Grindelwald
Source: Warner Bros

I suspect that the negative reaction to the casting of Johnny Depp could have something to do with this. While everyone at Warner Bros was originally happy to commit to keeping Depp on, the public outcry against the (alleged) domestic abuser could have finally given the studio cold feet.

If this is the case, I do worry about the narrative cohesion of “The Crimes of Grindelwald”. If the screenplay has been drastically rewritten mid-production to reduce Depp’s role to the barest minimum, the film could end up being an uncoordinated mess.

Beware The Grindelwald Curse

Whatever’s going on, I’m really not sure where the focus will be here. Who will be the movie’s big villain if not Grindelwald? How can the film make Depp’s character feel genuinely dangerous given the “Scooby Doo” ending to the last movie?

Oh no, Grindelwald’s escaped from Wizard Jail! Not to worry – last time he was defeated by a magic Pokémon trainer with a bird and a twig.

Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts
Source: Warner Bros

I can’t conceive of a scenario where this movie turns out to be one of the big successes of the year. All possible outcomes look a little bleak.

This is a shame, because I’m a massive “Harry Potter” fan (as is pretty much everyone of my generation). Here’s hoping my pessimism is misplaced and “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” turns out to be a masterpiece in spite of its controversial production.