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Articles The Crimes of Grindelwald

Spoilers: The surprise in The Crimes of Grindelwald that could break canon (again)

November 2, 2018

Today Warner Bros. released the full cast list for Fantastic Beasts: “The Crimes of Grindelwald and someone truly important to the Harry Potter world came up among these names.

According to the press release, actress Fiona Glascott has been cast as no other than Minerva McGonagall. What’s relevant about this addition is how old Glascott is. The Irish actress is 35 years old, which means that she’ll be portraying an adult McGonagall. And obviously that’s quite interesting because we’re all excited about young Dumbledore, and now about young McGonagall, but something’s not right there. The Crimes of Grindelwald takes place around the the late 1920s, which means that McGonagall hasn’t been born yet. How do we know about this? The HP Lexicon has thoroughly carried out the timeline for McGonagall with information provided by Pottermore, the Harry Potter books and comments by Rowling herself, and the math doesn’t add up.

The first clue of McGonagall’s age comes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Umbridge asks her “How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts?”, at which Minerva answers “Thirty-nine years this December,”, and since the fifth book happens between 1995 and 1996, this gives us the following fact: Minerva McGonagall started to teach at Hogwarts in December 1956.

Pottermore also tells us that right after Hogwarts, she worked for two years in the Ministry of Magic, until she was offered the position of Transfiguration teacher (and even Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, offered the job). This means she left Hogwarts as a student in July 1954, and therefore, she started attending in 1947 when she was 11, which means she was born in 1935.

Fiona Glascott
Fiona Glascott

Let’s analyse all the options. If it is in fact a thirty-something McGonagall, then there’s a canon contradiction. However, we have a theory about McGonagall’s appearance in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts movie that could make it part of the canon. The first one is that this could be all some sort of flashforward vision that Grindelwald has. But it should be a vision that forwards us to at least the 1950s/60s, and from what we learned in the trailer Grindelwald’s visions are apparently of WWII (around 1945), so McGonagall would be 10 years old then.

Another possibility is that we’re talking about a different McGonagall. But first, let’s get the facts straight. The press release clearly states that Glascott plays a Minerva McGonagall, which we assume it’s the Minerva we all know and love. So one theory could be that the character played by Glascott is a relative of McGonagall with the same name. There is in fact a great-grandmother on her mother’s side after whom our McGonagall was named. But it is on her mother’s side, so she wouldn’t have the McGonagall surname and she wouldn’t be in her thirties in the 1920s.

So a McGonagall in the Fantastic Beasts timeline is an addition to other canon controversies that have arisen with the film trailers, such as Nagini and Dumbledore teaching Defense Against the Arts. These are not entirely canon contradictions, but they were not well received by fans. But what is definitely not part of the canon, and we will see how they fix it, is apparition inside Hogwarts.

Ultimately, we’ll find out the answer to the McGonagall question and all the others when The Crimes of Grindelwald open in theatres on November 16.

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