‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ – That Crazy Twist Ending, Explained

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(Huge spoilers here for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” below. You have been warned.)
So here you are. You’ve experienced all the craziness that “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” had in store. And you’re totally confused by all of it because, well, it’s a whole lot of information to absorb.
But it is what it is, and what it is can be really tough to digest — especially if you aren’t steeped in “Harry Potter” lore. And even if you are a lifelong Potterhead it might take a minute for all of it to sink in because of how much lore this new “Fantastic Beasts” movie is dropping on us.
So regardless of what level of “Harry Potter” fandom you’re one, we’re here to help you by distilling down the major revelations in a way that’s perhaps easier to understand than it was in the movie. So let’s get to it.
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So, obviously, the bulk of the twists and turns in “The Crimes of Grindelwald” largely revolve around Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), the Obscurial from the first movie who we all thought was dead but who actually was not. Don’t get too hung up on his survival, because it’s not explained how he made it out.
So at this point Credence is on a mission to find out who his birth family was. You’ll recall that Credence was adopted when he was very young, and that his adopted mom referred to his real mom as “unnatural.” That term is almost certainly just referring to his mother’s magical abilities — Credence became an Obscurial because his adopted mother hated magic and tried to suppress his use of magic as he was growing up.
Throughout the movie people speculate that Credence is actually Corvus Lestrange, the long lost son Corvus Sr. and brother of Leta (Zoe Kravitz). A mysterious man named Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam) is chasing after Credence on exactly that assumption — Yusuf is angry that Corvus Sr. bewitched his mother Laurena and essentially stole her, and wants to get back at him by killing the person he loved the most: Corvus Jr.
The truth about Credence’s identity is complicated, because of a weird story that Leta tells everybody. When she was a kid, the Lestrange family was on a ship and baby Corvus wouldn’t stop crying during a big storm. So Leta took baby Corvus out of his crib, carried him across the hall to another cabin and swapped him for another baby — one who was sleeping soundly.
Moments later, while Leta was still holding this other baby, the ship began to sink, and everyone went for the lifeboats. So the Lestranges took this other anonymous baby with this, leaving Corvus with another family. While the Lestranges survived, the other family’s lifeboat capsized, apparently killing baby Corvus.
Credence is that other unnamed baby. So for a time he definitely was Corvus Lestrange, even though he actually was not.
At some point after that, this young Credence was given up or lost by the Lestranges — it’s still not clear why he ended up being adopted by the woman from the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie. That’s a mystery that presumably JK Rowling is holding back for a future movie.
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At the end of the movie, once Credence joins up with Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), Grindelwald tells him that his true name is Aurelius Dumbledore. And that Credence’s brother has been trying to stop him. The implication being that said brother is Albus Dumbledore — the Dumbledore we know from all the “Harry Potter” movies and the only other Dumbledore in this movie.
This is a whole can of worms, of course. Aurelius Dumbledore is a totally new name that we’ve never heard before, and certainly Dumbledore had never mentioned a dead brother. In fact, when the opportunity to mention a dead brother came up he specifically referenced his dead sister Ariana. So it’s entirely possible that Dumbledore didn’t know that Aurelius existed — or that Grindelwald is just making this up.
Some big new mysteries that come up because of this revelation, assuming it’s true. Let’s run through them real quick.
Who was Credence’s mother? Dumbledore’s mother, Kendra, died in 1899. Which would mean that Credence would have to be at least 28 in “Crimes of Grindelwald.” While Credence’s age in the movies hasn’t been established, it seems like a stretch that he would be that old. Ezra Miller is only 26, and he said in an interview back in 2016 that Credence was 18 in the first “Fantastic Beasts” movie. Which would make him way too young to be Kendra Dumbledore’s son.
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Percival Dumbledore is still in play as the father, however. Percival was locked in Azkaban in 1890 for attacking some muggles who were harassing his daughter Ariana, and we know nothing about his life after he was locked up — leaving plenty of room for whatever retcons JK Rowling wants to do with him. So if Aurelius is actually Albus Dumbledore’s brother, Percival would almost certainly need to have fathered him. But with who? It’s really impossible to guess. But if Grindelwald knows Credence’s identity, then the mother may be someone he knows.
The other big question is who was baby Credence traveling with when young Leta absconded with him. Whoever it was died that night. This may be the same thing as the other question, given that “Crimes of Grindelwald” makes a big thing of showing a woman swimming after and reaching for the swapped-in baby Corvus Lestrange as he sank to the bottom of the ocean. But we don’t know who that woman was — if she was Credence’s mom or a nanny or what.
Lastly, we still don’t know how or why Credence ended up being adopted. Whatever the circumstances were, they led most everybody to believe he was dead.
So the short version: Leta Lestrange swapped her baby brother Corvus for a baby supposedly named Aurelius Dumbledore, who was later by some means separated from the Lestrange family and ended up becoming Credence Barebone.
Someday this will all make sense, presumably.

With the new Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” set to expand the wizarding world’s mythos, take a moment to gaze into the Pensieve and remind yourself of the series so far.

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
The franchise didn’t put its best foot forward, but Chris Columbus’ “Sorcerer’s Stone” — which both detractors and admirers point to as being more faithful to its source material than any other Harry Potter movie, hence the protracted running time — was only a momentary stumble. In hindsight, it’s also something of a relief: The series gets so dark that starting off on a syrupy-sweet note feels like a small gift.
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8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (2010)
Almost every Harry Potter film works better as part of a series than it does on its own, “Deathly Hallows — Part 1” especially. The first half of the finale has some of the franchise’s most moving moments — Hedwig, he hardly knew ye; you were a good elf, Dobby — but it simply doesn’t function as a standalone film. It’s also responsible for the unfortunate trend of splitting books into two or more movies, which has since been mimicked by “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Hobbit.”
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7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
In some senses, “Order of the Phoenix” is a victim of its own success: Much of it revolves around Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), who’s far and away the most hateable character in the  franchise. David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies, occasionally lags on his way to the third act of his first outing. But that finale gives perhaps the most moving, complete sense of the life-and-death stakes of Harry and Voldemort’s conflict.
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6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
The spinoff remains true to the spirit of its source material while also differentiating itself. Though we still don’t know much about either our new hero, Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander, the film itself marks a welcome return to an immersive fictional world. Set in a time (the 1920s) and place (America) that Harry Potter never explored, “Fantastic Beasts” is worth seeking out.
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5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
What’s sometimes forgotten about the sentimental first two films is that, unlike later entries, they feel like complete stories. “Chamber of Secrets” suffers from some of the same problems as its predecessor, but it also has the advantage of a more compelling, puzzle-like story. Voldemort takes on many forms throughout the series, and here, as a 16-year-old preserved in memory, he shows his most human face.
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4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
The true turning point in the series, “Goblet of Fire” makes good on the promise of “Sorcerer’s Stone” that the innocent are the first victims. There were always signs that this is a darker world than it initially appears to be, but until the fourth book (and Mike Newell’s film) the forces of evil are held at bay. Once loosed, things change forever.
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3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (2011)
That coda (which, to be fair, is lifted directly from the book) needs to go, and it makes little sense that a two-part film based on one book can’t find the time to give three significant characters onscreen deaths. Even so, the final film expands the series’ narrative frame and ties its threads together with true elegance — especially regarding Alan Rickman’s Snape, who emerges here as Rowling’s best, most tragic character.
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2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
The dynamic between Harry and Dumbledore finally moves to the fore in “Half-Blood Prince,” a movie that enriches its own present-tense narrative by looking into the past and showing how it came to be. Tonally similar to the other late entries but narratively superior, it manages to come across as a self-contained work.
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1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Positioned between the sentimental entries directed by Chris Columbus and the bleaker chapters that followed, “Prisoner of Azkaban” achieves a near-perfect balance between light and dark, good and evil. It helps that the source material is so strong — the arrival of Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, and the Patronus charm are all highlights — as does the fact that Alfonso Cuarón graced the series with his singular vision before directing “Children of Men” and “Gravity.” It’s the entire Harry Potter phenomenon in microcosm: coming of age but not yet fully grown, dark but not despairing, and a needed reminder that, even in trying times, a sense of wonderment is as powerful as any spell.
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How does “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” stack up to the rest of the Harry Potter onscreen saga?

With the new Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” set to expand the wizarding world’s mythos, take a moment to gaze into the Pensieve and remind yourself of the series so far.

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