At Sunday's MTV Movie Awards, Harry Potter fans were treated to the second trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, due out November 18. The new trailer unveils the magic of the film's CGI'd vintage Manhattan, and the magic of Potter author — and now screenplay writer — J.K. Rowling. Rowling, who advised on but never wrote any of the previous screen adaptations of her wizarding universe, is penning the planned film trilogy alongside longtime Potter director David Yates.
A prequel series set in 1920s New York City, Fantastic Beasts is starting to feel like a world we'd like to spend more than a few hours in — much like our hero Newt Scamander, who finds himself stuck in the city on a madcap adventure. (In case you missed it, you can watch the first trailer here.)
The new trailer offers some tantalizing backstory on Newt, who the trailer reveals was kicked out of Hogwarts and vouched for by none other than a young Albus Dumbledore. We see Newt meeting up with twins Porpentina (or Tina) and Queenie Goldstein, as well as newly returned war vet Jacob Kowalski, all new characters who find themselves caught up in Newt's adventures. We also get an intriguing glimpse of a shady-seeming Colin Farrell as wizard official Percival Graves, and his boss Seraphina Picquery, who's the wizarding world's equivalent of the US president.
Of course, while Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them promises to provide a gorgeous depiction of New York, it also promises to provide a disappointingly monocultural one, as many fans have vocalized since the main cast — who are all white except for Carmen Ejogo, the black actress who plays Seraphina — was announced. The fact that the wizarding world is progressive enough to have elected Seraphina as president in the early 20th century raise a number of questions, given that the population of Fantastic Beasts' New York seems, so far, to be almost totally white.
Rowling is also building the film's story on an alternate history of US culture that has some serious problems regarding its generalized depiction of Native American cultures as a monoculture. So the plethora of pasty British people populating historically multicultural Manhattan, according to the trailers we've seen to date, is puzzling to say the least.
Then again, Rowling definitely knows how to quiet — or at least distract — the critical voice in our brains: omg lookit this adorable magical hedgehog omg:
Okay, JKR. You have our attention. Here's hoping you'll find a way to address our diversity and cultural concerns too.