The first trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is here, giving Harry Potter fans a glimpse of where this increasingly sprawling saga is headed.
The prequel series — which sees J.K. Rowling adapting her own slight Harry Potter spinoff book, with direction from David Yates, who helmed the final three Harry Potter films — began with last year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a lackluster backstory centered on Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander, a plucky hero who gets entangled in larger political forces when he comes to America to repatriate one of the titular magical creatures.
The first film — one of a planned five in the expansion series — was hampered by its need to set up plot for the coming four films. But the newly released trailer seems to indicate that the second film will dive deeper into the main storyline, one Potter fans know well. And as a bonus, it’s taking us back to Hogwarts to meet up with a beloved character.
Rowling is taking fans into one of the Wizarding World’s darkest periods: the rise of the Dark Lord Grindelwald, revealed at the end of the previous film to be a bleached-blond Johnny Depp. The historical timeline of Grindelwald’s rise corresponds generally to the rise of Nazi Germany, and Rowling has always heavily allegorized Grindelwald as the Wizarding World’s version of Hitler. The first Fantastic Beasts movie purported to focus on hapless Newt’s antics in America as he chased a coterie of adorable CGI creatures, but it veered into more somber themes — with heavy allegorical references to the need to drive shadowy extremist forces into the light, culminating in Grindelwald’s capture at the end of the 2016 film. The sequel picks up with Grindelwald escaping and fleeing the American Magical Congress.
Harry Potter fans who’ve long wanted to know more about the history of the fractured friendship between Grindelwald and the heroic Professor Dumbledore (played this time around by Jude Law) will get their wish: Dumbledore enlists Newt to help him track down his former friend, and the trailer shows teacher and student forming an unlikely alliance to catch him. It appears Dumbledore himself is also in the hot seat for protecting Newt’s whereabouts — but we all know our favorite professor can handle himself under pressure from authorities.
Most of the cast from the previous film also seems to be returning, including Katherine Waterston as Newt’s girlfriend Tina and Alison Sudol as her sister Queenie, along with Newt’s Muggle sidekick Jacob (Dan Fogler). We also get a brief glimpse of the intriguing Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), Newt’s mysterious first love.
But if this all seems eerily on the nose and darkly political, fear not: There are also plenty of fantastic beasts in abundance, including a phoenix and what looks like a cute little magical praying mantis/plant hybrid known as a Bowtruckle. After all, at this point in his Harry Potter tenure, director Yates knows not to stint on the magic.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald arrives in theaters November 16, 2018.