Just over a month is left before Warner Bros. Pictures premieres “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” in theaters worldwide. In preparation, the studio has released what may be the final trailer of the film, which picks up from the events of 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. It does a great deal to further elaborate on the various threats and dilemmas that Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander must navigate in the impending war in the Wizarding World. But it also generates some controversy with the identity of one of its characters, whose casting writer J.K. Rowling is defending.
Fox News has it that the celebrated author of the “Harry Potter” book series and current scriptwriter for the “Fantastic Beasts” films is now trying to defuse criticism of the casting for one of the significant supporting characters in “The Crimes of Grindelwald”. Previous trailers have shown a woman portrayed by South Korean actress Claudia Kim, who serves as companion to returning character Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller). The final trailer released Wednesday, September 26, showed the woman having the ability to transform into a snake, with Credence calling her Nagini. Nagini is the snake companion of “Harry Potter” villain Voldemort.
While some fans are excited at the potential of exploring Nagini’s past, some critics decry the casting of a Korean to portray the human Nagini, claiming it was a misguided method of cultural representation. J.K. Rowling has responded to criticism on social media by explaining the mythos of the Nagini snake character, being based on Indonesian myths of the Naga. As Indonesian is an Asian country then having an Asian woman play the part was actually appropriate in her opinion.
Other fans raised questions on what Nagini was doing in the movie, seeing as she perhaps is more recognizable as the giant snake who served as companion and “Horcrux” to Voldemore. Rowling thus described Nagini as a new sort of shape-changing magical person, a “Maledictus”. Unlike some changers who can do so freely like werewolves, a maledictus – who can only be female – only has a limited time in her life to shape-shift before she is eventually trapped in her alternate form for the rest of her life.
That still has not somehow quieted the controversy, knowing know that Nagini is of Asian ethnicity who is seen as a faithful “slave” to Voldemort, a Caucasian wizard and racial supremacist to boot.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” stars Redmayne, Kim, Miller, Katherine Waterstone, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Jude Law and Johnny Depp as overarching antagonist Gellert Grindelwald. J.K. Rowling both writes and produces the film, due for release this coming November 16.
Image courtesy of Mashable