The Hollywood Reporter recently reported that HBO Max was in talks to create a live-action Harry Potter series, although still in the early stages. While nothing official has been announced, the news was met with equal parts excitement and trepidation among fans. Once upon a time, the idea of more Harry Potter would have sent us over the moon. But do we really need to revisit the series now?
Let’s review the arguments for, and against, another visit to the wizarding world.
The Good: It Can Make Up For Mistakes the Movies Made
The Harry Potter film series is beloved by fans, but let’s not pretend it was the best book-to-movie adaptation ever. Storylines are dropped and added, and key plot points from the books never even made it to the films: Voldemort’s origins, Snape as the Half-Blood Prince, and who made the Marauder’s Map are all key stories that never really made it on screen.
The movies also added their own scenes or changed key elements of the story. Things like the Weasely home burning down in the sixth movie may have made for a cinematic flair, but it only raised more questions than it answered (are they all homeless now? Can they just magic a new house? If they can do that, what was the point of burning it down in the first place?), and changing Neville’s big moment at the Battle of Hogwarts was particularly egregious. A series that sticks closer to the source material could let fans really see the books brought to life.
The Bad: J.K. Rowling’s Many Controversies
Once a beloved author, J.K. Rowling has become a controversial figure among fans. Over the past few years she’s become embroiled in numerous controversies regarding transgender people. Rowling has tweeted and blogged her negative stance on trans issues, doubled down amongst criticism, and blamed backlash on “cancel culture”. This has caused many fans to disavow Rowling. On TikTok, where Harry Potter fandom thrives, users claim the books “wrote themselves” or that the fictional character of Harry Potter is the real author. Sites like Buzzfeed add disclaimers to Harry Potter articles now, pledging their support to the trans community despite Rowling’s remarks.
The Harry Potter world is still controlled by J.K. Rowling. She’ll have a say in any future developments and will most certainly continue to benefit financially from any new Potter works. Any new series will face serious scrutiny for Rowling’s involvement, and most likely a boycott from the LGBTQI+ community and its allies.
The Good: They Can Give Us More of the Characters
Ask someone who only saw the movies: Who is Peeves? What about Ludo Bagman? Where is Charlie Weasley during all this? What do you know about Neville Longbottom’s family?
With so much of each book to pack into a two-hour movie, it’s no surprise certain storylines were dropped altogether. However, with a limited series, there’s so much more room to explore each of the characters and add back in people that the movies had dropped. Excluding Ludo Bagman, for example, didn’t affect the Goblet of Fire too much, but his presence added to the mystery of the book. Same thing with Neville’s parents: we are still told in the film that they were tortured by Death Eaters and he was raised by his grandmother, but seeing his overbearing guardian and including the tragic scene where Harry sees him visiting his parents at the hospital would make the character even richer.
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Even our main trio was flattened by the films: Ron was reduced to a few one-liners in many of the films, and Hermione had many of her personality traits (like advocating for SPEW, or her angry streak, particularly with Rita Skeeter) completely erased. The complicated nature of the characters and their friendship could only be improved by seeing more of their book personalities.
The Bad: Fantastic Beasts is Right There
A new series wouldn’t be the first time studios tried to expand the Potterverse. The film series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is still going, despite apathy from most fans.
The films follow Newt Scamander, a character mentioned in passing in the books, and includes appearances from young Dumbledore and other characters mentioned of referenced in the series. If we want a look at what a new show exploring minor characters from the books would look like, it’s this. And it’s… just okay.
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Casting controversies aside, the films don’t offer much in the way of exciting additions to the lore. In fact, it’s almost the opposite. Dumbledore and Grindlewald’s relationship, as relayed to Harry in the books, was intense and dramatic. Rowling revealed afterwards that Dumbledore was gay and in love with Grindlewald. However, none of that made it to the Fantastic Beasts films (which take place once they’ve already fallen out). Dumbledore’s sexuality is absent, and so are the complicated emotions that made these friends-turned-adversaries so enticing in the first place.
The Good: A Chance to Flesh Out The World
In the book series, we see everything through Harry’s eyes and, let’s face it, he’s not the most observant or curious. There are so many factors to the wizarding world that we never see. What happens after you graduate Hogwarts, are there magical universities too? How much overlap is there really with the muggle world, considering the Prime Minister of the UK knew about them? What happens in other countries, or at the schools like Beauxbatons or Durmstrang?
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A new series doesn’t have to be set at Hogwarts, and it doesn’t have to follow Harry Potter himself. We can explore more of the world created in the books, or dive deep into different eras, like the First Wizarding War or when Harry’s parents attended school.
The Good: It Can Give Us a More Diverse Cast
There have been more attempts at inclusion in the Harry Potter universe in the past few years, but the original films really failed in that regard. A new series could bring in things like Black Hermione (from the Cursed Child stage show) or openly gay Dumbledore, and cast more PoC in roles throughout Hogwarts. Fans have loved the idea of South Asian Harry (and James) Potter as much as they’ve loved Black Hermione, so why not use that in the series? Despite being set in the 90s, the world of Harry Potter could stand to be more reflective of society today.
The Bad: Everything Post-Potter Has Sucked
Okay, maybe this is a bit harsh. But the Fantastic Beasts movies aren’t the only post-Harry Potter offerings that have left fans underwhelmed. Pottermore, an interactive website Rowling launched in 2012, was supposed to be a gateway for fans to interact with the wizarding world. It would offer quizzes and games, as well as new facts and information from Rowling herself. The site being laggy and having technical difficulties wasn’t as big of a deal as the lacklustre information we got from it.
The most bizarre was that wizards didn’t have bathrooms, and instead “relieved themselves wherever they stood, and vanished the evidence”. Pottermore also gave us such confusing details as “there are no wizard TV shows but they can use radios”, “wizards don’t use the metric system” and that Merlin is real, and used to go to Hogwarts.
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You can brush aside anything said on Pottermore, or from Rowling on Twitter, as not being canon. But what about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? The post-Potter play, co-written by Rowling, introduces plenty of concepts that left fans scratching their heads, like the Trolly Witch being a robot and Voldemort having a love-child. If this is what our post-Potter lore is like, why do we want more of it?
There’s no way to know for sure if this series will even move ahead, or what it may look like. Until then, all we can do is wait and see what the wizarding world will bring us next.
Editor’s Note: Set The Tape supports trans rights and is against hate speech in any form.