fantastic beasts the crimes of grindelwald nagini

In perhaps the biggest retcon since she revealed that Dumbledore was gay, J.K. Rowling just revealed that one of the new characters in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald isn’t so new after all.

Last year, Claudia Kim‘s character was introduced with no name and a punk-goth appearance, and Harry Potter fans flew into a frenzy with theories over who this mysterious “Maledictus” (a person cursed to transform into a beast) could be. But the latest Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald trailer finally revealed who she is playing: Nagini. That’s right, Kim will be playing the malicious snake who becomes the constant companion, and later Horcrux, of the Dark wizard Voldemort.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kim was finally unleashed from her vow of secrecy and spilled all the details about her role as Nagini.

“It will be so interesting to see another side of Nagini. You’ve only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.”

While my mind automatically jumped to “Animagus” (a witch or wizard who can transform themselves into an animal at will ) after I saw the trailer — after all, we see Nagini willingly transform while performing at the circus — Rowling is quick to remind us that Nagini is a “Maledictus,” a person with a blood curse that eventually transforms them permanently into a beast. This is a new magical curse just introduced in The Crimes of Grindelwald, but Pottermore clarifies Nagini’s condition further:

“Claudia Kim’s character is a ‘Maledictus’ — a carrier of a blood curse that makes her transform into a beast. This appears to be different to being an Animagus, as an Animagus can transform into an animal by choice. If we break up the etymology of the word, ‘Mal’, means ‘wrongful’ or ‘ill’ — and ‘dictus’ in Latin means ‘to speak’.”

Essentially, Nagini is a ticking time bomb of tragedy who will eventually transform into a snake permanently, and perhaps lose all memory of humanity. “She does feel sometimes it’s not controllable,” Kim told EW. “She is bound to [permanently] transform at some point to a beast so she feels this pressure that the clock is ticking.”

Why Nagini chooses to spend that precious time as a circus performer baffles me, but at least that is where she meets fellow outcast Credence, who ran away to join the traveling Circus Arcanus after wreaking havoc in New York. “It’s amazing these two broken souls are able to form some kind of friendship within the circus. Credence is special to her because he encourages her to use her power,” Kim said. Kim is vague on whether Nagini is a witch herself, which is unclear as she doesn’t wield a wand, but carefully elaborates that “She has powers that are yet to be explored.”

So where she was just a force of pure evil before, The Crimes of Grindelwald is injecting some sympathy into this character whose beheading by Neville Longbottom we once cheered. Good ole J.K. sure knows how to make us feel guilty over our favorite things. But there’s something more troubling about this twist. In a franchise that has frequently been criticized for its lack of diversity, one of the few characters of color is now doomed to become enslaved by a villain who is a thinly veiled Nazi metaphor. Not only that, she is turned into a literal object who the heroes must kill as part of their quest. Yeah, this may be an even worse retcon than making Dumbledore gay and refusing to follow up on it.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opens in theaters on November 16, 2018.

Magizoologist Newt Scamander joins forces with young Albus Dumbledore to prevent the devious Gellert Grindelwald from raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: