How THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD Sets Up Ilvermorny to Play a Major Role in FANTASTIC BEASTS

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald...We fully expected to visit the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The Massachusetts-based institute was close to the film’s New York City setting, and, as the only history on American magic from J.K. Rowling to also get an accompanying video, it had been positioned to play an important part in the plot. Then the first movie came and went with only a passing reference from alums Tina and Queenie. But while The Crimes of Grindelwald also failed to bring us to the “American Hogwarts,” it did indicate big things are still to come for Ilvermorny, in a scene that points to just how important American magic will be in defeating the Dark Wizard.
There seemed to be a chance we’d head to Ilvermorny in The Crimes of Grindelwald, just for a brief moment, after J.K. Rowling announced The Daily Show‘s Jessica Williams would be playing professor Eulalie (Lally) Hicks in the film. When Rowling added we’d only get a “hint” of the character in this movie, with Hicks’ “true glory” coming in Fantastic Beasts 3, we wondered if an attack on the school would push a reluctant America wizarding world into the war in Europe.We never got anywhere close to the U.S. or Ilvermorny though, and we only saw Williams as a talking picture inside of a large book owned by Nicolas Flamel. After realizing the imminent danger of Grindelwald’s meeting, Flamel turned to a padlocked book adorned with a phoenix. As he flipped through every picture was empty until Professor Hick’s showed up. She pushed the reluctant 600-year-old Flamel, who hadn’t seen any “action” in 200 years, to go and help fight Grindelwald, where he helped save the day.We can all use a good pep talk sometimes, but why would a powerful and brilliant French wizard with five centuries of knowledge and experience, the only alchemist known to make the Sorcerer’s Stone, turn to an American professor for help? And why was Hicks included in a book that strongly hints at some kind of original Order of the Phoenix? The answer might be found in the other histories of American magic, which tell of American wizards’s own history and unique skills, the kind that can help stop Grindelwald. And America’s greatest wizarding school would be the leading source to find that information.One of Rowling’s supplementary histories has already proven incredibly important in Fantastic Beasts. The story of how American wizards decided on a strict rule of self-imposed isolationism from No-Majs was a major plot point in the first film. It was why Newt’s escaped creatures were viewed so harshly in America, and why Credence was so ashamed of his own powers. In The Crimes of Grindelwald it also led Queenie to do the unthinkable and join Grindelwald’s cause, in hopes she can be help create new laws and be with No-Maj Jacob.But Rowling’s other three American histories–on Ilvermorny, Native American magic, and American wandmakers–haven’t proven pertinent yet. That’s why Professor Hicks brief but vital appearance might be the door…or rather book…to how they will ultimately prove as important as the history of MACUSA.Dumbledore told Harry he was able to defeat Grindelwald during their famous duel in 1945 because he was a “shade more skillful.” That was likely true, possibly even a bit of an understatement by Dumbledore, but Grindelwald did have a huge advantage during that fight. He possessed the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand ever made. His dancing wall of blue flames that killed so many Aurors showed just how potent Grindelwald was with the Eldar Wand. Was Dumbledore so much stronger and talented he was able to overcome that with with a regular old wand? Or did he have a very powerful wand of his own, one that will possibly be found in America?North American magical roots go back to long before Muggles discovered the New World. However, Native American wizards didn’t use wands which originated in Europe. That makes their abilities more impressive, because as Rowling has said, “Wandless magic is sophisticated and takes more talent.”Wands did eventually make their way across the Atlantic, where four great wandmakers established themselves as among the best in the world. That included Shikoba Wolfe, who carved intricate wands that were very powerful but hard to control. That’s because they were made with Thunderbird tail feathers, which just so happens to be the magical creature Dumbledore used as a clever ploy to get Newt Scamander to America in the first film.
But one of the first wands ever found in America wasn’t made there. It came across the Atlantic with Ilvermorny founder Isolt Sayre. A descendant of the Gaunt family (yes, those Gaunts), she escaped her evil aunt to come to America and took her aunt’s wand with her. It was the very wand that belonged to none other than Salazar Slytherin. Years later it was rendered dormant, so Isolt buried it near Ilvermorny. Was it ever seen again? Did anyone ever wake it up? Who better to ask these questions than an Ilvermorny professor…American magic goes back to Native Americans, who were incredibly powerful and skilled. America also produced some of the greatest wandmakers in the world, and one of the leading institutes of magical learning in Ilvermorny. There is undoubtedly great knowledge, powerful secrets, and important lessons to be learned from those centuries of knowledge, with Ilvermorny and its educators the leading experts on them. No wonder 600-year-old Nicolas Flamel turned to a great professor from there during a dangerous time. With three more movies and Grindelwald’s power growing, the danger is only getting worse. Wizards will need help from every corner of the wizarding world. Especially if they need to find some unknown way to break a blood pact.It might have only been a brief appearance from a professor in a book, but when The Crimes of Grindelwald turned to Ilvermorny it read as a major sign the school will still play a huge role in the Fantastic Beasts films.And that means we’re eventually making a visit there.What do you think the future of Ilvermorny and American magic will be in the films? Tell us in the comments below.

Images: Warner Bros.

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