Why We Should Appreciate the Antiheroes of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

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Written by Shannon McGrew

Villains are characters that we love to hate. Even if we know at their core they are horrible, detestable people, something about them draw us in. More often than naught, there is a mesmerizing charm that befalls them that is able to cut through our heart and make us vulnerable. Then there are those moments when we learn about their tragic back stories and how they came to be what they are. All in all, these “bad guys” typically possess a much more complicated and fascinating lifestyle than those of our heroes.

One of my favorite villains of the past 20 years strikes fear in the heart of many. Known as “he who must not be named”, Lord Voldemort is one of the most powerful dark wizards known in the “Harry Potter” sphere. Having grown up with the “Harry Potter” series from when they first came out when I was in 8th grade, I’ve always had a fascination with Voldemort and the wizarding studies of the dark arts. Sure, in the beginning I was team Harry Potter, but as I grew older, my fascination turned towards the more ominous presence of the dark arts and what they were capable of accomplishing. Thus my love for Voldemort grew at a rapid pace and I happily embraced the notion that my true calling was to be placed within House Slytherin.

It has now been six years since the conclusion of the “Harry Potter” series, and 10 years since the last book was published, and since then there has been a notable absent in the much beloved wizarding world. However, our muggle prayers were answered when it was announced that their would be a film adaptation of the book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. The Harry Potter community was beside themselves with joy as we were now going to have the chance to explore a new facet of this incredibly imaginative world that J.K. Rowling created.

It goes without saying that I am a huge fan of the newly released film. Yes, I am a complete sucker for all the cute creatures that were introduced throughout the 2+ hour runtime, but what really sold me on the film was the introduction to a new wizarding antihero. What I think a lot of people tend to forget with the “Harry Potter” films, and now with “Fantastic Beasts”, is that these films are incredibly dark. In order to have light we must first fight our way through darkness and “Fantastic Beast” does an exceptional job at acquainting the audience to a new dark wizard.

Percival Graves, played by Colin Farrell, is a wizard to behold. Though “Fantastic Beasts” focuses mainly on Newt Scamander, the bumbling, creature loving, author of the book “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them”, it makes sure to also shine a light on the more unsavory aspects of the wizarding worldHowever, one of the performances that I think stole the show was that of Newt’s antagonist, Percival Graves. Graves is an Auror who works for the American Ministry of Magic and right from the start you can sense an ominous nature about him. He is not one to mince words nor does he go out of his way to say more than he has too. He has a singular goal in mind and he will do whatever it takes to achieve it.

Percival Graves is a complex character and there’s a lot going on underneath the surface; however, for the sake of being a spoiler free review, I will leave you with the understanding that Graves is someone who is much, much more sinister than we could imagine. Where Graves is stoic and singular driven, there is also Credence Barebone who is emotional, tragically haunted and played exceptionally by actor Ezra Miller. Again, not wanting to give anything away, Credence ends up being a spark that is let loose too early. He evokes a sense of sympathy and terror from not only the characters in the film but from the audience as well. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to see both Graves and Credence interact with each other through the relationship they have formed, regardless of how toxic it may be.

What I’m trying to say is that these cruel, and oftentimes misunderstood, characters should be taken into consideration when we talk about how much we love horror villains. Instead of overlooking them we should accept them into the villainous realm housed by some of the great horror villain icons. Characters like Voldemort and Graves are just as powerful and provocative, and though they don’t leave an endless stream of blood and guts in their wake, they still do their fair share of mass killing. Same can be said for a character like Credence, who though we come to understand has been treated incredibly poorly, harbors a terrible secret that once unleashed results in devastating consequences. Though these characters are wizards in the film, they also embrace a humanistic nature not seen too often in horror films. Both Graves and Credence know what they are doing is wrong, but they make the decision to continue on regardless of the horrific repercussions.

All in all, there is still a lot to learn about Graves (and the surprise ending of the film) and Credence and hopefully we will get to learn more about their origin story in the next “Fantastic Beasts” film slated for 2018. In the mean time, I suggest picking up the newly released Blu-ray and immersing yourself within the world of dark arts, powerful wizards, and fantastic beasts.

You can now own “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD.

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