It’s been nine years since the release of the last Harry Potter novel and five years since the film series concluded with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – yet 2016 has shown there is still plenty of life in the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a big hit on the West End and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has started a spin-off series of five films and it has already made a healthy $479.7 million at the box office.
J. K. Rowling has created a rich and detailed fantasy with a long history, ranging in events from the founding of Hogwarts to the Second Wizarding War. There is also a large cast of supporting characters that fans have got to know and love (or hate) and many of their stories have the potential to make great spin-off films. If the author of a textbook could lead a film then anything’s possible within the Harry Potter cinematic universe. So let’s look at some of the great wizarding heroes and villains who deserve a chance to lead a spin-off film.
Kicking off this list is an unusual choice but certainly no less worthy: Merlin. Throughout the novels and films, Merlin has been referred to in small ways: the term ‘Merlin’s Beard’ is the wizarding version of saying ‘My God’ and the Order of Merlin is the highest honor the Ministry of Magic can bestow on wizards and witches for their bravery or achievements in magic.
Merlin was a student at Hogwarts in its early years and got sorted into Slytherin House. That alone can be an interesting dynamic, showing that not everyone in Slytherin is an arrogant bratty bully or a horrid racist. Someone from Slytherin could end up achieving great things without being a mass murderer or plot world domination. Or prepares there is more to Merlin than legends suggest.
J. K. Rowling has various ideas from mythology and folklore – the Harry Potter universe is populated with dragons, goblins, werewolves, centaurs and many other creatures, so it would be interesting to see her take on Arthurian legends.
Plus there is set to be an increase in films using Arthurian legends next year. Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and the fifth Transformers film, Transformers: The Last Knight are telling stories about the mystical characters. So the Harry Potter series may as well strike when the iron’s hot.
Harry Potter fans will recognize the name Nicolas Flamel; he was the creator of the Philosopher’s Stone which was the key for making the Elixir of Life: allowing the man and his wife to live for 600 years. This by itself makes Flamel an interesting candidate for a spin-off film because his long life allows him to see and be involved in numerous events in the Harry Potter universe.
Flamel’s biography shows he was a French wizard and alchemist in 14th Century Europe, becoming a powerful wizard and a friend of Dumbledore’s. His French background could allow the viewers to see the wizarding world in mainland Europe and the series can use legends and folklore from Western Europe to show more wonderous creatures, important artifacts and tell of important legends from this region. It’s doubtful that Voldemort was the only wizard that wanted to use the Philosopher’s Stone and Flamel would be the target for many wicked and power-hungry wizards and witches. Flamel could also have made other important magical devices and could act as an important advisor to the British and French magical governments.
Flamel was based on a real person: a French scribe and manuscript-seller who was believed to have been an alchemist. This could allow for a blend of history and fiction and be set at a time when Muggles knew about wizards and even mixed with their circles.
Out of the main trio in the Harry Potter series, Hermione Granger is the most competent. She’s the one who normally figures out what a problem is and comes up with a solution, using her intelligence and research skills. She was the smartest witch at Hogwarts and has been called one of the brightest people of her generation.
After the events of the Harry Potter series Hermione marries Ron, started a family and joined the Ministry of Magic. In the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child she rose up the ranks to become the Minister for Magic: she was celebrated for championing the rights of non-human creatures like house-elves (a storyline that was introduced in The Goblet of Fire novel but never introduced in the films), eradicated the Pure Blood laws and with her friends reformed the Ministry. Her political activism and rise to power in the Ministry would be an interesting way to explore the wizarding world and the issues it faces. Plus Hermione would have made a lot of enemies to achieve such a position, especially Voldemort sympathizers because they would not be happy that a filthy Mudblood becomes the Minister of Magic.
Emma Watson has become been the most successful out of the Hogwarts students, appearing in films like This is the End, The Peaks of Being a Wallflower and Noah and is set to appear in Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Warner Brothers and the Harry Potter series would want to use her popularity while Watson could tap into her real life activism when playing the adult Hermione. She can also show her range as the adult version of the character – whether it’s comedic bickering with her husband or look at the impact of emotional moments like when Hermione erased her parents’ memories: having parents who don’t know her existence.
Buzzfeed made a comedic video of what Harry Potter would have been like if she was the main character. Down with the patriarchy!
Igor Karkaroff was the Headmaster of the Durmstrang Institute – a wizarding school in Northern Europe which refuses to take Muggle-born students. Karkaroff was also a former Death Eater, a follower of Voldemort, but named names during the First Wizarding War to save his own skin. This action led to him being hated by witches and wizards on both sides of the conflict and after Voldemort’s return Karkaroff was forced into hiding before getting killed by Death Eaters a year later.
There are many ways for a spin-off involving Karkaroff. Firstly Warner Brothers and Rowling could look at life in Durmstrang, the only school in the world that teaches students the Dark Arts and installed a regime of fear and intimidation. His school makes Slytherin House look cuddly in comparison. It would be an interesting location to visit, a dark gothic castle in the snowy north.
During the First Wizarding War, Karkaroff tortured Muggles and wizards and witches, who refused to support Voldemort and displayed a sadistic streak throughout his life. Or there could be a spin-off looking at his life on the lamb -, similar to what happened to Harry, Ron and Hermione during The Deathly Hallows – Part One.
Karkaroff name suggests that he is from Eastern Europe and his childhood/young adult life could be a gateway to look at wizarding culture in this part of the world. There is certainly a lot of ideas from Eastern European and Slavic folklore that could be given a Harry Potter spin, ranging from vampires, werewolves, baba yagas and many other creatures.
Frank and Alice Longbottom
Frank and Alice Longbottom were introduced in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix novel, but their appearance was cut from the film version. They are Neville Longbottom’s parents and permanent residents at St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries because they were tortured to the point of insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange. Both were respected Aurors for the Ministry of Magic and were members of the Order of the Phoenix.
Their lives as Aurors would be a way to show a slice of the First Wizarding War, a small part of a large war effort, and tell a different story from it. They could be fighting on the frontline or investigating Voldemort rings of evil witches and wizards so they could break them up.
Their son was born on the same day as Harry Potter and Sybill Trelawney prophesied that one of them could defeat the Dark Lord. Voldemort chose to attack Harry because he was a half-blood. However, the idea could be twisted because some of Voldemort’s followers may also have found out about the prophecy and attacked the Longbottoms to find their son in an attempt to double down and protect their lord and master.
Some of the most interesting parts of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were the flashbacks to Voldemort’s early life but most of them were cut from the film version. One of the biggest casualties yet most interesting stories cut was the tragic story about Voldemort’s mother, Merope Grant and it deserves to be told in a film.
The Gaunts were descendants of Salazar Slytherin, one of the founders of Hogwarts. Unlike their famous ancestor the Gaunts had fallen into poverty, although they have a lot of pride in their lineage. The household was violent – Merope was abused by her father and brother because she possessed only a limited magical ability. After her brother attacks a Muggle she liked both her father and brother ended up being sent to Azkaban.
Merope also fell in love with a wealthy Muggle, Tom Riddle, and she uses magic to trick him into falling in love with her. The pair married but after Tom regains his senses he abandons Merope and their unborn child. Merope ended up dying shortly after childbirth in an orphanage in London at the age of 19.
Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort
A film about Lord Voldemort’s origins would be a high risk, high reward strategy – for every X-Men: First Class there are films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hannibal Rising or the Star Wars prequel to counteract it. However, Voldemort still has an interesting origins story and most of the flashbacks from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to his past in the novel were cut from the film version.
Voldemort’s time at Hogwarts had been explored in the films, so a spin-off film can skip ahead to his life as a young adult and his rise to power. There is plenty of material to look at: the novels showed his search for the Hogwarts artifacts so he can turn them into his Horcruxes. There is no look at Voldemort travels and learning the dark ages and powerful forms of magic that made him into one of the most powerful wizards in history.
Nor has there been much explanation on how Voldemort developed a following and created an army. A spin-off could show the early days and causes of the First Wizarding War. In the novels, the Ministry of Magic resorted to draconian laws to counter Voldemort’s insurgency – showing that there weren’t much better than the Death Eaters.
One of the themes of the Harry Potter films and novels was the darkness that lurked underneath the main character. Both Harry and Voldemort were orphans and abused as children, the Sorting Hat told Harry he had potential in Slytherin House and nearly put him in there. The two have been bound together in numerous ways – from having a psychic connection to having wands made from the same phoenix feather. A story focused on Voldemort could show the path Harry Potter could have gone down if only a few things had been different.
Like Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore has a long and complex history and the story (or stories) of his life could make for a compelling spin-off. Early in the book series, Dumbledore seemed like a kindly old man who looked after Harry Potter and his students, but as the novels progressed Dumbledore became more of an enigma with his relationship with Harry changing after the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Rita Skeeter published a controversial autobiography The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, revealing secrets that Harry and his friends did not know about their headmaster. The book stated that Dumbledore had anti-Muggle feelings in his youth and he formed a relationship with the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, leading to Dumbledore considering working with Grindelwald to achieve wizarding domination before they fell out.
Skeeter’s book also stated that Dumbledore had a sister he neglected in his early adult life. Skeeter stated that Ariana Dumbledore was a squib (a person from magical ancestry but have no magical powers themselves). Her information was incorrect, Ariana was attacked by a group of Muggle boys and was so traumatized by the experience that she lost the ability to control her magic powers which eventually led to Ariana killing her mother.
The story of Dumbledore’s young adult life could work as a story of redemption – how some went to the dark side and had abhorrent ideas – yet can still come good and the character of a hero is more complex than a legend suggests. Plus it would be a bold step to have a homosexual lead character in a major franchise.
The Founders of Hogwarts
Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin were the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the 10th Century and some of the most important figures in British Wizarding history. The Houses of Hogwarts were named after the founders and reflect their characteristics, Gryffindor was for the brave, Hufflepuff values loyalty, Ravenclaw was for the smart and Slytherin liked ambitious student.
The origins of Hogwarts was touched on in The Chamber of Secrets – in the novel Professor Binns, the teacher of the History of Magic told the story, in the film it was Professor McGonagall. What happened was Gryffindor and Slytherin were best friends but had a falling out because Slytherin wanted to enact a pure blood admissions policy and created the Chamber of Secrets before he left the school.
A film about their lives can go into more detail, showing why they founded Hogwarts, the construction of the school – and show the split between the founders. It would be fun to see the medieval Wizarding world and what relations were like between Muggles and Magical Kind. Over the course of a millennium the lines between truth and legend would have blurred – leading to plenty of leeway for a creative team to tell a story.
Severus Snape is one of the most complex characters in the Harry Potter series – a wizard who dresses in black and his loyalties were always in question. He was a Death Eater who defected to the Order of the Phoenix and always trusted by Dumbledore – despite his duplicitous nature and doubts of others.
In flashbacks it was revealed he was friends with Lily Evans, Harry’s mother, but bullied by his future husband, James Potter and his friends. Their friendship became strained when they were placed in rival houses – Lily was in Gryffindor and Snape was Slytherin and the anti-Muggle view of Slytherin made the friendship taboo. Snape defected from the Death Eaters to protected Lily and her family but arrived too late to save her – grieving her demise and promising to protect her son. But just because Snape has to protect Harry, it doesn’t mean he has to like him.
There is a risk that a film focusing on Snape would simply repeat a story that has already been told, but the flashbacks were fleeting in the films, so there is plenty of potential in a spin-off film: whether it’s a look at his school days or his time during the First Wizarding War. It would be a tough task for any actor to replace Alan Rickman, yet Adam Driver has expressed an interest in playing Snape and he would be an excellent casting choice for the young Snape.
What character do you want to see take over the Harry Potter Universe? Comment below.