Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduced viewers to the dangerous dark wizard Grindelwald. Hailing from Germany, Grindelwald was portrayed as a powerful sorcerer who sought to possess the powers of an Obscurial – a magical child who has repressed their power, which manifests inside the child as a dangerous force . Unfortunately for the Dark Wizard, his plans were foiled by Newt Scamander and friends.
Grindelwald’s tale, however, is far from over. He may have been captured, but it’s clear that he will escape from American custody. The sequel to Fantastic Beasts bears the ominous title The Crimes of Grindelwald, promising that the villain will stand at the center of the plot.
So who is Grindelwald? Here’s everything you need to know about the chilling villain.
Grindelwald’s Ties to Dumbledore
There’s a strange sense in which Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was an origin story for Albus Dumbledore. In the aftermath of Dumbledore’s tragic death, Harry wound up fascinated by his mentor’s history. Harry swiftly learned that Dumbledore had not been a paragon of virtue all his life. Dumbledore’s teenage years were bound up in an alliance with Gellert Grindelwald.
Years before even the events of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grindelwald was a student at the Durmstrang Institute. His interest in the dark arts disturbed even Durmstrang, and Grindelwald was expelled at age 16. In 1899, Grindelwald visited Godric’s Hollow in England, intrigued by its connection to the legend of the Deathly Hallows. There, he met the youthful Dumbledore, and the two became firm friends. Already touched by family tragedy, the young Albus had grown resentful of his duty to care after his younger sister Ariana, a powerful Obscurial in her own right. Looking back from the end of his life, Dumbledore remembered how Grindelwald’s ideas appealed to him:
“You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me. Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards triumphant. Grindelwald and I, the glorious young leaders of the revolution. Oh, I had a few scruples. I assuaged my conscience with empty words. It would all be for the greater good, and any harm done would be repaid a hundredfold for wizards.”
Aberforth Dumbledore intervened, challenging the two. The argument became a fight, and Grindelwald lost control. What followed was an horrific three-way wizard’s duel, and at the end, Ariana Dumbledore lay dead. Grindelwald fled, leaving a broken Dumbledore family in his wake.
The Links Between Grindelwald and Nazism
In the Harry Potter mythology, Grindelwald clearly represents the rise of fascism in Europe. He rose to power through the ’20s and ’30s, but was ultimately defeated in 1945. Like the Nazis, Grindelwald claimed an ancient symbol as his own; in his case, the sign of the Deathly Hallows.
In an interview with The Leaky Cauldron, Rowling admitted that the timing of Grindelwald’s rise and fall is no coincidence.
“It amuses me to make allusions to things that were happening in the Muggle world, so my feeling would be that while there’s a global Muggle war going on, there’s also a global wizarding war going on.”
At the time, Rowling would go little further than to admit she believed events in the Muggle world and the wizarding world were feeding into one another. Given the second film bears the title The Crimes of Grindelwald, the horror of his brutal ideology is about to be revealed.
Grindelwald’s Fate is Sealed
Ironically, though, fans already know how Grindelwald’s story will end. The Fantastic Beasts series of films is set to end in 1945, the year of Dumbledore’s famous duel with Grindelwald. Claimed by many to be the greatest wizarding duel of all time, this duel (spoilers ahead) will see Dumbledore prevail against his foe and bring an end to the violence. Albus will wind up owner of the Elder Wand, one of the Deathly Hallows, keeping it safe lest it be pursued by other dark wizards.
As for Grindelwald, he would be put on trial and sentenced to stay at the Nurmengard Prison in Germany. He’d stay there for decades, until eventually hunted down by Voldemort himself. Proving that he had changed by the end, Grindelwald attempted to hide the location of the Elder Wand from Voldemort. Unfortunately, he proved unsuccessful.
This is the problem with telling a story that’s set in the past; the ending is already set in stone. That said, J. K. Rowling is a master storyteller. There’s no way she hasn’t got some serious twists planned to take viewers by surprise.