The first novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series hit bookstores in 1997, launching the massively successful pop culture phenomenon we now know today. The seven-book series inspired an eight-movie franchise that wrapped up in 2011; plus, Rowling helped craft the story for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a continuation of the book series in the form of a play. However, the next re-entry to the wizarding world established by Harry Potter comes in the form of the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Penned by Rowling and directed by Harry Potter veteran David Yates, Fantastic Beasts is the first of five movies, which will feature the magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). The first film follows Newt through 1920s New York City as he searches for a number of creatures that have escaped from his care. However, Warner Bros has already assigned a release date to the movie’s followup and Rowling is hard at work on the script. So far, we’ve learned the sequel will take place in France and the UK, Johnny Depp will play the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, and Harry Potter favorite Albus Dumbledore will return.
During a press conference for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them attended by Screen Rant, Rowling was asked about the younger version of Dumbledore — who has yet to be cast — that will appear in the sequel. Specifically, Rowling was asked whether Dumbledore will be openly gay and if the film will explore his relationship with Grindelwald. Rowling said:
Well, I’m very comfortable with the question. I can’t tell you everything I would like to say because this is obviously a five-part story, so there’s lots to unpack in that relationship. I will say that you will see Dumbledore as a younger man and quite a troubled man because he wasn’t always the sage [mentor]. He was always very clever, but we’ll see him at what I think was the formative period of his life. As far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space.
Of course, as Harry Potter fans know, Dumbledore’s sexuality was never explicitly stated in the books or movies, though his close relationship with Grindelwald was mentioned. Rather, Rowling confirmed Dumbledore to be gay and to have fallen in love with Grindelwald during a Q&A with fans in 2007, as reported by The Leaky Cauldron.
That said, when Fantastic Beasts kicks off in 1926, Grindelwald is already considered a dangerous dark wizard. He believes wizards should make themselves known to the world’s population rather than hide behind the International Statute of Secrecy; he also believes wizards should rule over Muggles (non-magic folk). In the books, Dumbledore had a falling out with Grindelwald, leading the former to become the mentor known in Harry Potter and the latter to become the world’s worst dark wizard — until Voldemort’s rise to power.
Considering the time period in which Fantastic Beasts takes place and Grindelwald already having been established as a dark wizard, the falling out between him and Dumbledore will have already taken place. That said, the emotional consequences of that relationship will undoubtedly affect Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts 2 — and fans may get to see the relationship through flashbacks. Still, since both the Harry Potter books and films mostly gloss over Dumbledore’s sexuality, the Fantastic Beasts franchise may give fans their first real chance to see that side of the beloved character.