Fantastic Beasts Has Changed The Order of The Phoenix’s Origin
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has continued to expand the world of Harry Potter, but along the way, J.K. Rowling has changed the history of Dumbledore’s secret organization, the Order of the Phoenix.
The second installment in the Fantastic Beasts series has proved to be a turning point for the expanding Harry Potter franchise. Unlike its predecessors, The Crimes of Grindelwald proved to be a divisive offering for both critics and fans. The movie was criticized not only for its complicated plotting and dull direction, but also for its changing of Harry Potter continuity.
Rowling may still be celebrated as one of the best modern writers. Yet despite her penchant for misdirection and dramatic twists, many of her developments within Fantastic Beasts 2 came under heavy scrutiny. Changes to the canon, such as the appearance of a young Professor McGonagall years before her canonical birth date, affronted fans, while the titular villain’s vision of the Second World War digressed from the series’ general allusion to real-world events. The biggest sticking point was when The Crimes of Grindelwald revealed that Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) was the brother of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law).
But among these changes to Dumbledore’s past - and the Wizarding World at large - Rowling has also subtly retconned how the future Hogwarts headmaster formed his anti-Voldemort task-force: the Order of the Phoenix.
- This Page: Is The Order of the Phoenix in Fantastic Beasts?
- Page 2: Is Dumbledore's Organization A Plot Hole or Improvement?
The Order of the Phoenix In The Harry Potter Books
Though the history of the Order of the Phoenix isn’t detailed until the fifth Harry Potter book, this secret society remains a vital part of the Wizarding World mythos. Founded and lead by Albus Dumbledore, the Order is a secret society which, according to The Order of the Phoenix novel, was formed during Lord Voldemort's first campaign for power in the 1960s and 70s.
The Order was a separate organization from the Ministry of Magic, but various officials still pledged themselves to Dumbledore, alongside a variety of contacts and skilled duellists from across the wizarding world. Despite being vastly outnumbered by Voldemort’s followers, this group of witches and wizards were dedicated to bringing down the dark wizard, and they proved to be an effective force against You Know Who. Moreover, Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom’s parents each foiled three of Voldemort’s plots during the First Wizarding War.
Even so, the Order was close to defeat before Voldemort fell. They disbanded after the dark lord’s apparent death, but Dumbledore swiftly recalled them when Voldemort returned. This new iteration of the Order included much of Harry Potter’s principal cast, along with their families and friends, and they proved to be even more effective than their predecessors. Indeed, they became one of the only resistance cells after Dumbledore died and the Ministry of Magic fell under Voldemort’s control. Nevertheless, after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Order presumably parted ways once again.
As we can see from its history in the Harry Potter books, the Order of the Phoenix was formed twice, both times to Voldemort. However, the latest Fantastic Beasts movie suggests that a version of the group existed over a decade before Tom Riddle even attended Hogwarts.
Is Dumbledore's Secret Group In Fantastic Beasts The Order of the Phoenix?
Whilst Fantastic Beasts ostensibly follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the series also fills in the gaps of Albus Dumbledore’s mysterious past. This is largely summarised by various unreliable narrators, especially where Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) is concerned.
Dumbledore revealed that, after the death of his sister Ariana, he remained teaching at Hogwarts and only saw his former lover one final time – their legendary duel of 1945. Even though Grindelwald was terrorizing Europe, Dumbledore avoided confronting him in any form, due to the trauma of their last encounter. But Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald added new and surprising details to Dumbledore’s past.
Midway through The Crimes of Grindelwald, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Torquil Travers (Derek Riddell) travels to Hogwarts to see Dumbledore. In their conversation, Travers reveals that Dumbledore is the leader of an international group of spies, which Travers is very suspicious of. Dumbledore asserts that they are only working to combat the dark wizard’s efforts, but the Ministry still threatens to move against Dumbledore's team if he doesn’t comply with them.
It transpires that Dumbledore is prevented from confronting Grindelwald himself due to a blood pact that they had made in their youth, but that hasn't stopped him from organizing an opposing force. Indeed, this group is referenced again later in the film, during Nicholas Flamel’s (Brontis Jodorowsky) introductory scenes. After Flamel sees fearful visions in his crystal ball, the alchemist seizes an enchanted book and uses it to contact Professor Eulalie "Lally" Hicks (Jessica Williams), a Professor at Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in America.
This is significant for several reasons. Not only does it introduce Hicks - who is set to have a greater role in Fantastic Beasts 3 – but the magical rolodex that Flamel utilizes has a phoenix sigil embossed on its cover. It must be noted that the image of a phoenix alone is not concrete proof of the Order’s presence and that magical book could simply be referencing Albus Dumbledore himself; Albus’ patronus has long taken the form of this legendary bird, and as the Aurelius reveal demonstrates, these creatures have been closely tied to the Dumbledore family for generations.
Even so, this brief sequence clearly highlights that Hicks and Flamel are part of Dumbledore’s secret organisation. Furthermore, the fact that they’re using a phoenix-styled method of communication suggests that this group is the Order of the Phoenix – or their forerunners at the very least. This reveal has implications for the extended Harry Potter universe.
Is The Order of the Phoenix A Harry Potter Plot Hole?
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald appears to be retconning the Order of the Phoenix’s past, establishing the secret society far earlier than previously thought. But while this change is not as overt as the editing of Professor McGonagall's history, it contradicts pre-established Harry Potter canon nevertheless. In the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix novel, Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody shows Harry a photograph of the Order during the first war against Voldemort he indicates depicts the “original” lineup.
In light of the Order’s – and Dumbledore’s – adherence to secrecy, some readers could argue that this isn’t a plot hole. After all, Moody simply could have been ignorant of the Order of the Phoenix’s existence in Fantastic Beasts’ time frame. But this seems rather unlikely, given what is already known about Dumbledore and Moody. Their shared history may be rather nebulous, but upon Moody’s first appearance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it is established that these aged, veteran wizards have known each other for many years. It’s also likely that Moody was an Auror during the same time period of Fantastic Beasts 2, and would have been privy to details concerning Dumbledore's actions. Moreover, by the time of the The Half Blood Prince, Moody became so trusted by Dumbledore that he was granted leadership of the Order after the headmaster died.
Therefore, it seems unlikely that Moody wouldn’t have known about Dumbledore’s efforts against Grindelwald by the time of The Order of the Phoenix. Yet this breaking of canon can be reconciled, depending on how Rowling expands the Fantastic Beasts franchise going forward.
Does Fantastic Beasts Improve The Order of the Phoenix?
For all of the canonical implications, Rowling’s inclusion of a new Order of the Phoenix is a welcome addition to the Fantastic Beasts series. Not only does it lend an even greater sense of history to the Order itself, it also bolsters the Wizarding World’s inter-connectivity.
Indeed, the Order’s presence in the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts series is similar to Hogwarts and Dumbledore himself; they are beloved fixtures, whose presence in both time periods makes a lot of narrative sense. Despite dabbling with the Deathly Hallows in his youth, Dumbledore has long campaigned against the evil that lurks within the world of Harry Potter. It is utterly fitting that he would organize a resistance cell against Gellert Grindelwald, since he eventually does the same thing in Lord Voldemort’s reign. Plus, it’s nice to know that, whether it is Newt Scamander, James Potter or his son, Harry, there are wizards and witches from every generation willing to join the Order and combat fascistic dark sorcerers.
Furthermore, the Order’s inclusion in The Crimes of Grindelwald adds to their secretive nature, and the mystery that permeates the rest of Fantastic Beasts series as well. Outside Flamel, Hicks and Dumbledore, there’s scant information available concerning when the Order was formed, how many members there are and what they have done to stop Grindelwald previously. And though we explored earlier that Alastor Moody seems unaware or unwilling to mention this iteration of the Order of the Phoenix, we can only wonder why this is the case.
The Crimes of Grindelwald posits that the unstable Credence Barebone could be Albus Dumbledore’s long-lost little brother. This was a shock for many fans, since Aurelius Dumbledore is a character that had not been mentioned anywhere the Harry Potter universe beforehand. With his colourful family history – along with his raw, potent magical powers – Aurelius is likely to play a key role in the battle between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Therefore, the fact that the wizarding world remained oblivious of his existence in Harry Potter’s school days is significant in itself.
J.K Rowling has promised to answer the many questions posed by Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts 3. It’s therefore very possible that she will shed light on why this iteration of the Order of the Phoenix has, like Aurelius Dumbledore, been undocumented within the Wizarding World so far.