Fantastic Beasts: 8 reasons why Newt Scamander is the hero we need right now
Presented by: Brian Silliman
The dastardly Grindelwald is causing total chaos up and down J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, and his proto-Death Eaters are everywhere. We need a hero, we're holding out for a hero till the end of the night, but Harry Potter, aka the Boy Who Lived, hasn't even been born yet. The Fantastic Beasts movies take place before our classic raps with Potter and the Gang... so who are we gonna call?
Never fear, Newt Scamander is here. As played by Eddie Redmayne, this Magizoologist (specialist in the care of magical creatures) was our lead hero for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and he will be again for the upcoming sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. While he shares a lot of the same heroic attributes that many of the classic Harry Potter characters have, Newt also stands separate in a number of ways. Redmayne's performance (highly underrated, if you ask me) is full of nuance, and though we have only gotten one movie with the talented Mr. Scamander, we're very glad that we'll be getting four more.
Why is Newt Scamander the hero we need? Why give you one reason when I can give you eight? No need to accio this list up on on your screen, just scroll down a tiny bit... no magic is required to do that. Here are eight reasons why Newt Scamander is the hero we need right now.
1. Unfailing Kindness
Above everything else, Newt Scamander is a kind man. Kindness is a quality that Albus Dumbledore himself would consider to be overlooked and undervalued (just as it is in the real world), but if Newt has one quality from which all of his others rain down, it is this one. Newt is unfailingly kind.
He is kind to his friends, and he is kind to the creatures he cares for. He makes friends quickly because he is not prone to judgement, whether or not the person in question is a no-maj. When the mere thought of actually using an obscurus is brought up in the first film, Newt can barely comprehend why anyone would want to use such a dangerous force, which came from such an innocent place. More than that, he can't fathom what anyone would possibly want do with it — "What on earth would you use it for?" he asks, and he asks this because his mind, as brilliant as it is, cannot comprehend that level of cruelty or evil. Newt does not have a wicked bone in his body, and I think that's something that we can all aspire to.
2. Generosity, and the true value of Occamy eggshells
Where kindness exists, generosity usually follows. Newt proves himself to have this quality in multitudes, as he is generous with his time and energy in taking care of his magical menagerie. He's also generous with his new group of friends — there are a lot of wizards who would have obliviated Jacob Kowalski immediately and left him lying on a bench somewhere. Newt does not. Though Jacob has to be obliviated in the end, Newt makes sure that he gets to build the bakery of his dreams. He makes this happen by anonymously giving Jacob a case full of priceless Occamy eggshells, something that I'm sure Newt could've used to buy himself something nice if he was so inclined. Does he use the shells to buy himself a solid gold cauldron? No — he gives them to a no-maj friend (who no longer remembers him) so that the friend can deliver his brilliant baked goods to the masses. Baked goods equal happiness, and down the line we go.
This is another easily overlooked trait. Newt is generous in mind and spirit, but also generous with his actions.
3. Unswerving loyalty
Wouldn't you know it, kindness and generosity tend to lead to loyalty. Who knew? Whether Newt is aware of it or not, he's incredibly loyal to his friends — you make friends with him, and you've got a friend for life.
He not only demonstrates this over and over again with Jacob in the film, but also with Queenie and Tina, the latter of whom he is destined to marry. He goes to the mattresses for all of them by the time the movie is done (15 minutes into the movie, really, potato potato), but his true loyalty is demonstrated by the creatures that are in his care.
Newt would die for any single one of the many creatures he cares for. When he's in trouble in this movie (and he is, often), all he usually cares about is someone hurting any of the fantastic beasts that are in his case. He cares for them and he travels with them, to the point where he travels halfway across the world to bring one of them home. He's also loyal to those who have helped him get where he is — you get the feeling that Newt would do anything for Ablue Dumbledore... that, like Harry before (after) him, he is "Dumbledore's man through and through." We only get a hint of it in the first film, but I expect we'll get a great deal more of it in the sequel.
4. Incredible skills and how to use them
Newt isn't just loyal to his creatures — he knows how to take care of them. He probably knows more about them than any character we've met in the wizarding world, to the point where he eventually (and literally) ends up writing the book on them. He knows where to find them, how to care for them, how to feed them, how to get them where they need to be, and how to protect them. He also knows how they might be useful in a tight situation (the Swooping Evil and the Thunderbird, especially) and knows how to heal others (Jacob) when they are accidentally hurt by them.
Newt lives and breathes fantastic beasts — when it comes to his vast array of knowledge, there is no one that comes close. Hagrid may be very enthusiastic, but let's get real — Newt would never have put a Malfoy in front of a Hippogriff.
5. Eccentricity, whimsy, and not being totally sane
Newt is a "weird" guy, for lack of a better way to say it — and so much the better. Not only does his wildy eccentric nature make him a blast to watch (with Redmayne's gestures and ticks adding a great deal to it all), but Newt makes you feel like not fitting in is not the end of the world. Quite the opposite — Newt follows the beat of his own magical drum, and he makes us want to do the same.
He loves what he loves, and he's not going to apologize to anyone for it. Nobody else in the first film (aside from his three new friends) cares about the magical creatures like he does, and nobody sees them as being worthy of adoration. Magical society has gone so far as to ban them outright, but Newt believes in them anyway. Newt's gonna Newt, and that's just the way it is.
With a mad twinkle in his eye (worthy of any number of Doctors from Doctor Who), Newt leads us on a whimsical romp with sly smile. He doesn't care about being cool, not in the slightest. He doesn't care what anyone else thinks of him. He is true to his own mad nature, and thankfully his nature is made up of kindness and generosity.
6. Headmaster patronage
Speaking of eccentricity and following your own whimsy down whatever path it may lead, may I present Albus Dumbledore — almost certainly the most powerful friend that Newt has. Dumbledore is also a mad eccentric, as well as someone who often champions the necessity to do what is right and not what is easy. When Dumbledore chooses to mentor someone, they are usually more than worthy of being mentored — Harry Potter himself is an extreme example, but Dumbledore's defense and ongoing patronage of Newt is no small thing.
We only hear small mention of this in the first film, mostly that Dumbledore fought against Newt's expulsion from Hogwarts. This means that Dumbledore is doing what he does so very well — spotting huge talent and potential in someone that the larger wizarding world has dismissed. The Order of the Phoenix is largely made up of such overlooked gems, and just as Newt sees the greatness in his creatures (and no-maj's like Jacob), Dumbledore sees the greatness in Newt. All that is gold does not glitter, as they say.
To have caught the attention of the greatest wizard of all time (since Merlin at least, and not counting Gandalf) is quite an accomplishment. In the trailers for the sequel, Dumbledore says that teaching Newt was a "privilege," and we also see him trusting Newt with a most important mission. Dumbledore's trust is hard won, and Newt has it completely. Not many wizards can say that. We'll almost certainly learn more about this bond in the new film.
7. Suitcase a la Poppins
Newt has a wand, of course, every wizard does... but do they also have a TARDIS-like suitcase that is not only bigger on the inside, but contains a magical zoo that makes the one in San Diego look like an abandoned pet shop? Newt's suitcase is miraculous, and every scene set inside of it is splattered with wonder. It's his workshop, menagerie, secret hiding place, and one of the coolest magical items in the wizarding world.
Not only that, but it can appear normal with a flip of a little switch. Sure, that one latch really needs to be worked out (the creatures need to be safe, after all), but where's the fun in that? Not only does he care for all of the creatures within, he knows how to work with them if he needs to. As mentioned already, he makes great use of the amazing Swooping Evil throughout the film, and the Thunderbird he is carrying saves the day at the end. Thanks for the help MACUSA, except not really.
So, yes, Newt has a wand. He also has a suitcase that would make Mary Poppins wet herself with envy. Beat that, Cedric Diggory!
8. Hard-working selflessness (without witness, without reward)
Newt is a hard-working wizard, and he never asks for anything in return. Why is he returning the Thunderbird to America? Is he getting paid to do it? Absolutely not — he's just doing it because it needs to be done, or at least he believes it needs to be done. He's doing it with no hope or wish for any reward, and if his journey went as he had planned (which it obviously didn't), then nobody would have seen him do it. Working hard when everyone is watching is one thing — doing the same when absolutely nobody notices it quite another. You can see this mirrored in his film-ending gift to Jacob, also.
Simply put, he's the essence of a true Hufflepuff — he's hard working, kind, generous, and selfless — with a touch of madness, and extreme loyalty all included. He's all of these things whether or not an entire city is watching him. Add in the coolest piece of luggage I've ever seen on film and the friendship of Albus Dumbledore, and you've got yourself a hero worth following. You have a hero that the wizarding world — as well as the real world — are in dire need of right now.