Who Is Grindelwald and Why Should We Care About His Crimes?

His name is in the title but who is Grindelwald and why should you care about his crimes?

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As its title suggests, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will likely place a great deal of focus on Grindelwald, the man who has been described as one of the most powerful dark wizards of all time. While die-hard Potterheads are already familiar with Grindelwald and his significance in the Wizarding World, casual fans may not have a clue about this guy. So before you head to the theater and see him face-off with Newt and Young Dumbledore, here is everything we know so far about Grindelwald and the titular crimes he has committed.

(Warning: while nothing in this article is technically a spoiler, moviegoers who wish to know as little as possible about Grindelwald may want to stop reading.)

Grindelwald Comes From the Later Harry Potter Books

In the Harry Potter series, Grindelwald only appears briefly and is mostly mentioned in his relation to Dumbledore, as the Hogwarts Headmaster earned his reputation as perhaps the most skilled sorcerer alive after defeating Grindelwald in a duel that witnesses claimed to be “the greatest Wizarding duel in history.” Grindelwald’s defeat caused him to be locked up in Nurmengard, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

Grindelwald made his lone appearance in the original series when he was eventually confronted by Voldemort (during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) as he searched for the Elder Wand, which resulted in Voldemort killing Grindelwald after he told him “that wand will never, ever be yours.” But while we may know the dark wizard’s eventual end, what do we know about Grindelwald’s life leading up the events of the Fantastic Beasts sequel?

His History is the Backstory to the Original Potter Series

Gellert Grindelwald was born sometime in 1883. Not much is known about his childhood but we do know that Grindelwald was a student Durmstrange Insitute, one of the three schools that participated in the Triwizard Tournament during Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts. Despite being a gifted student, he was expelled when he was 16 for attacking fellow students and experimenting with dark magic.

After his expulsion, Grindelwald became obsessed with finding the legendary Deathly Hallows and his search led him to Godric’s Hollow, England, where Ignotus Peverell, the original owner of the invisibility cloak, was rumored to have been laid to rest. Grindelwald did not end up finding the cloak but he did strike up a friendship with a young Albus Dumbledore, who shared his fascination with the Deathly Hallows and the power they represented.

The two ambitious young sorcerers made plans that would shock many only familiar with the older, gentler Dumbledore who serves as a mentor to Harry Potter. They planned to acquire the Deathly Hallows to become ‘Masters of Death,’ as many believed having the invisibility cloak, Elder Wand, and Resurrection Stone would grant them unlimited power and eternal life. From there, they would amass power and begin a new Wizarding order that ruled over muggles, as they both felt non-magical humans should be in submission to Wizards.

Dumbledore and Grindelwald Have Beef

The friendship/relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald came to a violent end in the summer of 1899, when Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth intervened and expressed his disgust with his brother and his closeness with Grindelwald. An argument quickly broke out and Grindelwald eventually ended up using the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth, at which point Dumbledore stepped in to defend his brother and an all-out duel began, resulting in the death of Dumbledore’s sister Ariana.

Following the duel, Grindelwald fled the country and over the next decades, he continued his search for the Deathly Hallows, eventually discovering that wandmaker Mykew Gregorovitch had it in his possession. Grindelwald was able to stun Gregorovitch and steal the Elder Wand, becoming its master. From there, Grindelwald began to amass a following of power-hungry wizards, who he used to launch several attacks across Europe, making him a notorious figure in the Wizarding World.

He was nearly caught at some point but he evaded capture and decided to use the Polyjuice Potion to go undercover as Percival Graves, the right-hand man to Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) President Seraphina Picquery, as he hoped to locate an Obscurial, a powerful magical being, in order to support his world-domination schemings. When a group of Aurors appeared to destroy the Obscurial, Grindelwald’s blind rage caused him to reveal his true identity. He was captured but did not seem particularly worried about his impending imprisonment.

Will Grindelwald manage to escape custody and continue his attempt to take over the world? Will fans finally get to see the iconic showdown between Dumbledore and his friend turned foe? Will we discover the origins of Grindelwald’s ridiculous haircut? All of this and more will hopefully be answered when Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters November 16.

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