Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore Corrects One Major Thing The Harry Potter Movies Got Wrong

Albus Dumbledore is one of the most important characters in the Wizarding World franchise, a character so important the "Fantastic Beasts" spin-off series pivoted to being all about him.

Yet, there is one big mistake the "Harry Potter" movies did: it overly sanctified the old professor. Sure, adapting books is no easy task, and some storylines and characterizations will be left behind. Still, while the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" two-part movie made a big deal about the reveal of Snape's backstory, it left behind Dumbledore's own backstory, one that would make the character deeply flawed and fascinating.

As bland, messy, and unnecessary as the "Fantastic Beasts" movies are, the third one, "The Secrets of Dumbledore" does finally fix a big mistake from its predecessors and makes Dumbledore human.

Heavy spoilers for "The Secrets of Dumbledore" ahead.

A tragic love story

After the previous film, "The Crimes of Grindelwald," kept the dark wizard's relationship with Dumbledore quite vague, this new film goes straight to the point in its opening scene.

Indeed, right off the bat, returning director David Yates makes it unequivocally clear that Dumbledore was once deeply in love with Grindelwald. It is not given any room for interpretation, no hint that they were just really good friends. These are two men who were once in a romantic relationship, and are now trying to kill each other but can't due to a magical blood oath that prevents them from moving against one another.

And yet, the film could have easily made Dumbledore a complete victim of circumstance, a man seduced by an evil wizard but with no knowledge of Grindelwald's plans for wizard supremacy. Thankfully, that is not what happens. In the same opening scene, Grindelwald tells Dumbledore, "It was you who said we would reshape the world. That it was our birthright."

That single line of dialogue makes it clear Albus was no innocent bystander. He was an equal partner, a wizard supremacist who went along with Grindelwald's plans to enslave the muggle population "for the greater good," as the books say.

This makes Dumbledore's hesitancy and long delay in confronting the magical world equivalent to Hitler all the more tragic, because he desperately does not want to fight the man he once loved.

A titular secret

While the Dumbledore of the first few books is more of a Santa Claus figure, a jolly old and quirky man, he became cold, detached, and secretive in the later books. It is only in the last book, "The Deathly Hallows," that we get a proper backstory for the professor and headmaster. 

We learn that Albus' youngest sister, Ariana, was once attacked by muggles after seeing her practice magic, which made her go mad (the new movie re-contextualizes this as her becoming an Obscurus. After her father was sent to Azkaban for attacking those same muggles, Ariana was kept isolated and indoors for years at a time, until she accidentally killed her mother due to a lack of control over her powers.

Orphaned, it was up to Albus and his brother Aberforth to take care of Ariana, which deeply angered Albus. A young, proud, praised wizard, he felt it was beneath him to be stuck with his family, and that's where Grindelwald comes in. According to the books, and as "The Secrets of Dumbledore" confirms, the two fell in love and bonded over their shared belief that wizards should not be hiding away, but should rule the world. It was only after a fight with Aberforth, which resulted in the accidental death of Ariana, that Dumbledore and Grindelwald grew apart and into adversaries.

What is right and what is easy

This backstory was a turning point in the books, the climax to a long-running plot line of Harry growing disillusioned with his mentor and realizing he is human too. In a franchise meant for young readers, this was a powerful story about the moment you realize your parents are not superheroes.

In the movies, this entire backstory is thrown out the window, boiled down to a few lines about Dumbledore living in the same neighborhood as Harry and an image of him and Grindelwald thrown in as an Easter egg for book readers.

The best thing "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" does is turn Dumbledore into a man who once held supremacists beliefs, loved a man who turned out to be a psychopath, and then realized his mistakes and learned to live with them. This decision makes the character flawed and human, someone who would choose what is right, instead of what is easy.