7 THINGS THAT I’D LIKE TO SEE IN AN UPCOMING FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM FILM

So here it is. The first Fantastic Beasts was a good effort for a first screenplay and a crowning achievement for the CGI team, but as a film it was… fine. It went on too long and wasn’t bad, but lets face it if it didn’t have the Potterverse brand it would be pretty much nothing. And yet we’re getting a load more of those films. So, what could help bring them up to scratch? Well here’s my top 7 things I’d like to see in the upcoming films. Warning, spoilers for Fantastic Beasts ahead.

1. A LOT OF COLLABERATION WITH OTHER SCREENWRITERS

Yeah, JK Rowling knows how to created a brilliantly set up mystery and well executed mystery, but cinema is a very different beast and though FBAWTFT was pretty good for a first screenplay, her lack of experience really shows. The aid of a more polished screenwriter would have gone a long way.

2.PAY FULL ATTENTION TO THE WORLD ENDING THREAT

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The biggest problem with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them was that it didn’t focus on its main plot. It had one of the darkest moments in the entire franchise- the cruel death of an abused kid with learning difficulties- yet I felt nothing for him because the movie didn’t build that moment up. The main plot was relegated to the sidelines and seemed superfluous until the end of act three where we learnt it was the main plot.

Instead we got endless hijinks with magical creatures which went on for far longer than it needed to. Seriously, the film was less focused on the main quest less than I am when I’m playinjg The Legend Of Zelda. In fact, that’s what this film felt like! It was basically Scamander pissing around trying to round up all the Cucco’s and then thinking ‘oh yeah, Ganondorf Grindewald is trying to take over, better actually do something! Dubious deus ex machina away!’ At the last minute. I bet she could have made that work as a novel, but in the tighter confines of a screenplay it felt unfocused.

3. A SAVAGE EDITOR

Yeah, at least 10 minutes could have been cut from the gotta catch em all magical creature league. A really harsh editor would help. Maybe the lady who edited Fury Road? She did an excellent job and it sounds like she had her work cut out for.

4. BETTER FEMALE INCLUSION

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Poor ol’ Hermione. She really was the only female in class worth our attention.

Females often get sidelined in mainstream media (although this is greatly improving), so when you see female writers like Meyers , Rowling and Cassandra Claire create such lackluster female characters, you can’t help but think ‘why’?

Don’t get me wrong, Hermione was great (though mainly because the movies toughened up her character and transformed her from the nag who puts a damper on the boy’s fun to a badass whose friendship is valued equally to Ron’s). But she was the only central female until Luna came along. In the Harry Potter series, if you named the 10 most plot central characters (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Voldemort, Snape, Sirius, Hagrid, , Draco, Neville), the only female you would get would be Hermione… okay and maybe Professor McGonagal, though all her importance comes from being Dumbledore’s 2IC. In Fantastic Beasts our two female leads included basically Scamander’s sidekick and another beauty who gets paired with an unattractive guy (because you shouldn’t judge on looks… if you’re a woman. Men get to choose mates based on looks all the time, but if women hold men to the same standard, they’re vain).

To be fair, all of the leads felt a bit one note throughout the film- except the muggle. But in future films I hope we have more active and complex female leads who are on par with the complexity of characters like Snape and Sirius Black.

5. MAKE UP FOR ITS LACK OF POC CHARACTERS

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The only thing even more abysmal than her track record for female characters is her track record for POC characters. While if you named the top 10 most plot vital characters you would get one female, you would not find a single POC on there. In fact, I’m not convinced that you’d find one on the top 20 most plot vital characters- as although Shacklebolt became Minister of Magic, lets face it, he was the least prominent Auror and didn’t make too much of an impact by himself. In FBAWTF we have a euthanist and an incompetent Black Boss, as well as some random background characters, and you really can’t pretend to say your series that tackles prejudice if your cast list is whiter than Trump’s cabinet picks. It sounds harsh, but true; allowing the audience to sympathise with the victims of prejudice only when its happening to someone like you does not challenge a damn thing.

Rowling, you are such a good ally on Twitter. Lets see that reflected in your films. Be the change you advocate. Give your POC fans the chance to finally see themselves in your universe, and give POC actors the chance to prove shine alongside their white counterparts. Who knows… perhaps we could have a daring Indian/ middle Eastern guy who could be a jerk with a heart of gold who one day could be future Aladdin.

6. TREAT DUMBLEDORE THE SAME AS YOUR LEADING STRAIGHT CHARACTERS

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Yoda once wisely said ‘do, or do not. There is no try.’

Either make Dumbledore’s sexuality a vital, represented part of his character the same way sexuality is important to every straight character in the Harry Potter and FBAWTFT series- or just say flat out it’s not going to happen.

If she doesn’t want to do that, then fine, stop giving LGBT fans false hope and stop with vague statements and taking credit for something that was scribbled on the character notes which failed to make it into the main story (which is what Word of God is).

7. KEEP UP THE BRITISHNESS

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With everything centred around North America and having to listen to the words ‘white picket fence’ over and over again (most boring fantasy ever), Hogwarts always was a breath of change and fresh air. It was just so British, and even if we’re with the North American wizarding world, a parallel world where the Americans are the grounded, level headed ones (come on, Americans, you know you deserve a bit of ribbing after voting in your new Commander In Tweet!) I hope it remains so.

The Way Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Takes A Few Steps Back With Race

My main thoughts coming out of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find could be summed up as: meh. I mean, it was okay. The acting was fine, CGI team deserve an award for their creativity, but the characters felt flat and the actual plot of the film was shoved into the background in favor of a series of slap stick routines surrounding the magical creatures. It was long, but not terrible.

Still, there was just one little thing that bugged the hell out of me throughout the movie. The way it treated it’s one and only Black person who could be called a character. Seraphina, the head of MACUSA, was cast as The Big Bad Authority Figure (a Black woman as an oppressor in the 1920s!) Who’s Always Wrong: she shouts down poor trembling plucky White (well Jewish) Porpentina, let’s the main villain get away with shit right under her nose and is kind of a dick.

I looked on the internet, expecting to see a whole load of articles on this, but all I found was a lot of articles on the casting choice, and one review on BlackNerdProblems. The rest of the internet seemed to ignore this, and even praised it on handling themes of bigotry while pretty much ignoring anyone who would realistically be on the receiving end of bigotry.

This is a shame because this is such a missed opportunity. I love the Harry Potter universe, and am generally a fan of JK Rowling as a person. J K Rowling looked like she was making progress with standing up for the casting choice of a Black lady as Hermione in Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, and I’d hoped that all the excitement surrounding that would demonstrate to her how much including some none white people in the wizarding world would mean to people (hell, people get excited about being included as even random names or subtext in the books). But alas, with this movie it looks like she’s making the exact same mistakes as she did in the main series.

THE BLACK BOSS GETS DOWNGRADED TO ‘THE MAN’ SHOUTING DOWN THE POOR WHITE LADY… IN THE 1920S

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Just like with Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister Of Magic, Seraphina Picquery follows in the footsteps of a dozen minor Black high court judges, bosses etc who have little impact on the plot. You know, kind of like in those shows where we get the Black Police Chief who presides over the case, but the White people get to all the cool groundwork and have their storylines and lives focused on.

This is quite a tantalising way of deflecting criticism without putting in any actual effort because look! They’re role models! They’ve got power! They’re the boss! Who cares if they haven’t got trifling things like character or plotlines or screentime and their job amounts to them being little more than glorified support cast- empowerment!

But the thing is, Seraphina is actually a step back from Shacklebolt. At least Shacklebolt is supposed to be a good leader. Seraphina is… not. She is more like Cornelius Fudge, only at least he got to be likable for a little while. Seraphina shouts down poor, trembling Ms Goldstein when she’s trying to relay useful information, blames her for not telling her earlier, has our protagonists unfairly executed and is constantly outwitted by our villain.

The only difference between her role and that of a villain is that a villain gets in the way of the protagonists’ schemes because he WANTS to cause trouble; because he is scheming, competent and his objectives clash with theirs. Seraphina is antagonistic because of her incompetence- because she doesn’t listen to important information because the speakers are below her, who is decieved by the villain at every turn and during the final battle, her and all her Wizards were impotent and  had to be saved by Newt- a man who finds himself decieved by the small animals he’s supposed to be an expert on in a regular basis.

What’s worse, is that this is 1920s America and she towers over and oppresses a white (okay, Jewish) woman, belittling her and playing the big cruel antagonist. This just feels like a cruel denial of reality, where not only do we ignore actual prejudice but turn Black people into the villains and the white characters into the oppressed ones we’re meant to sympathise with. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if Seraphina wasn’t the only Black person who can be described as an actual character in the film.

The Unlucky Second Choice POC Romance

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The second most relevant POC in the film is Lita Lestrange. Okay, we only see her as a picture, but since the only other contenders are random diplomats with one line and some bit part who was totally going to euthanise the hell out of our protagonists, love interest photo is the closest we got to a second important POC character.

Even before she’s even had a chance to speak a line she’s being put in her place (she was a taker, you need a giver) and positioned as the inferior choice to Porpentina. She is now destined to follow in Chang’s footsteps as the Unlucky Love Interest. At least Cho got Harry’s undivided affections before book 5 before she got derailed in order to lift up Ginny as Harry’s one twu wuv.

 

I don’t think Rowling’s doing this out of malice- more out of lack of investment of POC characters. But author intent is pretty irrelevant, and what we get is a constant case of POC being the unlucky second choice.

AND THOSE OTHER PEOPLE… IN THE BACKGROUND

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Look at all that diversity… now, if only they actual played some actual role in the plot

Yeah, aside from the Serafina, the other POC characters include a Euthanist/ executioner, some black coded goblin musician, and a bunch of foreign representatives who stand around in the background and look diverse while not actually doing anything . This is no doubt going to be held up as proof of diversity, but having none white people as window dressing who have no impact on the plot does not count as being diverse.

 HISTORICAL ACCURACY AND PORTRAYAL OF POC. 

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Black people were more than just servants on the outskirts of society in the 1920s. Princess Tiana could have been also been aiming to become an African American policewoman, a sports star, or to earn a PhD and it would have been historically accurate for the time period.

Yeah, this always comes up ‘but it’s history- Black people wouldn’t have been around and weren’t able to mix with white people so therefore of course it’s not diverse’. No, Black people weren’t just passive servants living on the outskirts of society. In this period, they were a major part of Urban Life (as many left rural areas to live in bigger cities due to prejudice), they held important jobs such as policemen and women, military officers and aviation pilots. It’ss just that most history books tend to skim over this fact, and society in historical based fiction has been portrayed as entirely white save for slaves and servants so many times that most people believe this myth without question. Which again is not helped by the fact that history books tend to largely ignore this, so when authors do research on the era they’re not likely to easily find  detailed info on the subject- it’s a vicious cycle..

It’s a myth so prevalent that in the first draft of The Princess And The Frog they were going to make Princess Tiana a servant- not out of malice- but because they genuinely didn’t realize that Black people could be other things at that time period.

Am I Accusing JK Rowling Of Being A Racist?

Ah, whenever you bring up this issue you always get accused of trying to attack an author. So, do I think J K Rowling’s racist?

Short Answer: No.

Long Answer: No, and this issue really derails the conversation.  I’m not looking at this as evidence for a trial of whether she’s attained perfect allydom status- that’s not really the point of this analysis.

The point is not author’s intent. The point is what ended up on paper, and J K Rowling is making the same mistakes as she did with the Harry Potter series, and since that series is an important part of growing up and adolescence to so many people (and Dumbledore’s Army is now a symbol against racist ideology), that’s a damn shame. The series hasn’t been completed, and it would be great if POC got to be a part of the Potterverse in a way that they weren’t able to in the main series. J K Rowling seems like a reasonable person, so in bringing up these problems, and asking for better, the point is to make people aware of these tropes and to encourage future writers to learn from the problems and do better in the future.

So, then Forced Diversity?

Well, I think a lot of people complain about this are just so unused to seeing POC on their screens that ANY time they appear it’s so unnatural and MUST be the left wing agenda. But for those whom that isn’t the case. Having a more diverse cast doesn’t make a well written story less well written. I mean, look at OITNB, The Wire, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Spartacus, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, Steven Universe; the highly acclaimed Ms Marvel Kamala Khan incarnation, Luke Cage, Empire. The diversity added more depth to the work and allowed women, LGBT people, and ethnic minorities to feel more invested. Like it or not, fantasy is escapism that allows us to travel to another world and it matters being able to picture yourself as part of the adventure- that’s why pretty much every hero is a hapless every man rather than someone actually qualified .  Would Hunger Games have suddenly been a less well written book if Gale or Katniss had been an unambiguous POC? No.Not at all.

What does detract from a work, however, is half assed diversity, tokenism and only including one minority character. It’s a problem when they include a character to teach a Very Special Lesson, and don’t bother to give that character a personality or role in the plot. Worse, is when they only include one character, pin the responsibility of representing a whole group on them, and turn them into a flat role model instead of an actual person.

It would not make the series bad if they included interesting, well written characters who happen to be Black. As flawed a character as Cho Change may be, she meant a lot to Asian fans and there was a lot of excitement when it came to seeing her on screen.

Harry Potter means a lot to so many people- hell, even having a random name mentioned in one book means a lot to many people. So using these films- a clean slate to- as a way of allowing POC to feel more a part of the adventure that all of us grew up fantasizing we could be a part of.

 

BOOK REVIEW:SHORT STORIES FROM HOGWARTS OF HEROISM, HARDSHIP AND DANGEROUS HOBBIES- by JK Rowling

Yeah, the title here is completely misleading. These aren’t short stories- like I hoped- but a set of character notes on a couple of the characters, namely Proffessor McGonagall and Professor Lupin- detailing their biographies, their parents and their careers, plus some info on Trelawny and some guy called Kettleburn who I don’t think was more than a footnote in the series.

Whether this book will be of any interest of you depends on whether you’re one of the fans who wants to know every last detail of the series- and if you are that much of a die hard fan you’ve probably read most of the material on pottermore, but there are apparently some exclusives so I guess there’s reason to justify shelling out.

There are some interesting things here. It had a detailed spell for how to become an Animagus, which was pretty creative and I liked the fact that Professor McGonagall chose to keep her second name. With how extremely conservative the Wizard world appears to be, with how quick women seem to be to give up their careers to start a family in their early twenties -all of them- (goddamnit, what’s wrong with having a little life experience before marrying? And couldn’t someone set up a port key to a wizard primary school- doesn’t that might be practical? And why is it that even though you get taught to do cool stuff like shooting fireballs from your wand and teleport you will still most likely get stuck in a tedious office job? Damnit, this is like an anime where life ends after High School), it was nice that McGonagall provided an alternate point of view to that. It also kind of humanises her and explains why a fully grow woman would want to spend all her life living on a school ground and seemingly have no life outside teaching.

Likewise, the section on Lupin was interesting- and it would have been even more interesting if it had been made into a short story. The details about how their parents met, however, I couldn’t have cared less about.

But in my mind, it goes into ‘goddamnit, walk away Rowling, let me figure it out on my own’ territory when it blatantly explains McGonagall’s relationship with Harry. I mean, we can infer why Harry and the Proffessor got on so well from the text- and hearing that there had to be a ‘deeper reason’ for her affinity with him kind of took a little away from me.

The question remains, that with JK Rowling telling you every minute motivation, every little and spelling out all the information, telling you the definitive interpretation of a scene or character’s motivations, when does the work of a writer pass from author to reader? Does death of the author mean nothing?  Is show don’t tell become relevant when we can’t come to our own conclusions about anything when we’re getting spoonfed everything? Half the fun is drawing your own conclusions through the characters actions, and discussing your conclusions with fans- and often the fan interpretations can be even more intriguing than what the author’s come up with.

As a result, having everything told to you definitively takes a lot away from ones own reading experience. It’s why I typically try and keep away from Pottermore, though with everything JK says splashed all over the internet as if its the new gospel, the task becomes difficult.

For my own part, as much as I enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and as much as I genuinely think JK Rowling seems like a  wonderful person, I have to agree with my friends assessment of her when we were going to a live screening of The Room (the epitomy of cinematic achievement)

‘JK Rowling, I love her, I really do, she seems like a terrific woman, I just think she should let Harry Potter go.’

VERDICT: Make no mistake, there are no short stories in this collection, only character notes. Some of them are interesting, some not so much, and most of them are available for free on Pottermore, so I would only recommend this to the most die hard of fans who crave every last nugget of information on this world.

RATING: 2 plees from Elsa to ‘Let It Go’ out of 5

TOP 11 VILLAINS OF FANTASY

A good story needs to have a good conflict, and who usually drives that conflict? The villain of course! They’re the ones that threaten the world, kidnap the damsel and burn down your village, so the better the villain, the higher the stakes. In this list, I’m going to look at some of the best villains I’ve come across in the fantasy genre.

11) The Yeerks- Animorphs.

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Before we were scared of aliens bursting through your chest, we feared mind control slugs crawling through your ear

The Yeerks are disgusting slugs that crawl through your ears and control your brain. They could be anyone around you, even your own family. That combination of body horror, paranoia, and terror of losing control of your mind and being controlled made them a far scarier villain than we were used to seeing in our books and kids’ shows

10) Angelus- Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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If only Lestat could break whatever curse was giving Louis a serious case of musty vampire. But then again, Angel needed a moment of true happiness to break his and we all know nothing wold make that man happy.

There was a lot that was …very unfortunate… about the ‘sex turns you evil’ storyline on Buffy.

But Angelus was still a brilliant villain. He lost the vampire brooding act that he stole from Louis and became everything a vampire should be. He was terrifying; he was truly cold, sadistic and played horrible mind games with everyone around him. Yet he was devastatingly charismatic, dangerous and sexy. His dangerously, charged antagonism of Buffy was compelling to watch and made him the memorable villain of the series.

9) Child Lilith- Supernatural

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…And yet still more child- friendly than Miley Sirus

Supernatural had a tonne of great villains.However, one of the best is child Alice. There’s something eerie about that childlike innocence being twisted into simple singleminded cruelty. Lilith is one of the most perfect examples of this. Just for kicks, she terrorises a family and forces them to play Stepford Happy Families while she kills them off one by one.

Honestly, what is it about little girls that makes them so damn terrifying?

 

8) Queen Jadis

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Forget Queen Lucy and Aravis, bad girls have all the fun in Narnia

Powerful, tyrannical and the terror of woodland animals and small children, Queen Jadis was the female character I most wanted to be in the book. While Lucy and the good girls were told that ‘wars are so ugly when women fight’ and never got to rule by themselves, Jadis got to be the sole regnant of Narnia, lived in a cool ice castle, and kicked ass in battle with no restraints. Plus, she killed feline Jesus. That’s one heck of a villainous achievement.

7) Dominga Salvador- Anita Blake

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Reading the (first ten)  Anita Blake books was an amazing experience. It was full of  larger than life characters, had lots of action and an engaging plot. One of the best aspects of the books were the villains, who were always tyranical, strong and absoltely memorable. I could have put any one of them on this list, but I chose Dominga because there’s something awesome about a well mannered older lady who inspires so much fear and terror.

6) Princess Azula- Avatar the Last Airbender

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“If I sense any loyalty, any hesitation, any weakness at all, I will snuff it out.”- Forget angst and endless monologues. Azula is one villain that doesn’t mess about

 Princess Azula was a brilliant character. She was cold, charismatic, manipulative and single minded in her goals. In the series she was so powerful she could hold her own against all of team Aang and Iroh and was so manipulative she could fool a living lie detector.

But she wasn’t just powerful, she was ruthless and a brilliant tactician, actually able to defeat the heroes and genre savvy enough to know she shouldn’t rely on having killed them unless she sees the bodies. She was so driven, so talented and such a good planner that there were many times that a part of you actually wanted to see her succeed in her goals.

5) Lucifer- Supernatural

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‘I will never lie to you, I will never trick you but you will say yes to me.’

Supernatural’s Satan is one of the best versions I’ve seen since the definitive fallen archangel of Paradise Lost. Cold, calm, and possessing a supreme arrogance dressed in the mask of sympathy, his confrontations with Sam were always chilling. . And, like Paradise Lost’s complex, failed rebel, he was tormented with his love of God and made some very good points.

4) Dolores Umbridge- Harry Potter

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Clearly this is the office of the devil

I’ve already discussed how brilliant Dolores is on my Harry Potter Top 11. Voldemort was our impersonal big bad, but Dolores was our own deeply personal demon.

3) King Joffrey

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Jack Gleeson did a great job in giving Joffrey’s every smug mannerism the ability to inspire rage and contempt.

In the rich, complex world of Game Of Thrones and A Song Of Ice And Fire,  there are no true villains- except for this little shit (and the bastard of Bolton).   Every mannerism, every smug look makes you want smack him, and you just hate him more and more with every sadistic abuse of power. Unfortunately, the downfall of this little shit wasn’t the glorious display that Dolores’ was, but for making us hate him more than we ever thought we could hate a fictional character, King Joffrey well and truly earns this spot.

2) Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

 

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If there’s one thing that old school Disney did better than anyone else, it was creating compelling villains. They created so many brilliant antagonists, but the best has to be Maleficent. I mean even her name, Maleficent- a cross between malevolent and magnificent- sounds so beautifully devious. She’s incredibly powerful and (until the new movie anyway), is evil just because it’s so, so, so much fun.

1)Griffith- Berserk

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Devoid of all the typical anime tropes, Berserk  is a dark, complex high fantasy tragedy. It is a tragedy in the most Aristotelian manner possible, complete with the drama between friends and family, the characters whose fatal flaw causes their fall from grace and reversal of fortune. We have the ill- fated tragic characters; Guts, a brusque, straight forward soldier who for all his strength was helpless to do anything when it mattered most.

Casca, [SPOILER] the warrior maiden doomed to get her wish in the most twisted, nasty way possible.

Then we have Griffith. Griffith, like a lot of the best villains, is a perfect foil to Guts. Silver tongued, cunning and skilled, he oozes charisma and an almost otherworldly presence and you can see why people so readily follow him. However, his otherworldliness soon turns monstrous as the path of fate twists and turns and pushes the characters to perhaps the most gut wrenching and brutal climax I have ever seen.

The rawness and inevitability of Berserk’s tragedy, the complexity of Griffith and his genuine friendship with Guts make him my number one villain of the fantasy genre.

 

 

TOP 11 HARRY POTTER CHARACTERS

Every generation has a fantasy series that really resonates with them. In mum’s case, it was the Chronicles of Narnia. In my case, it’s Harry Potter, which genuinely made me feel nervous each year I got older because it meant that I would be even further behind when my Hogwarts letter finally came (I’m in my 20s and  it’s still coming damnit!)

Harry Potter may not be the best fantasy series ever written; His Dark Materials and the Discworld series have far superior world building. But still, It has a good sense of humour, a quirky imagination, a well-structured and gripping mystery and of course, a warm and likeable cast.

We all know Dumbledore’s awesome, Hermione’s genius is incredible and Snape (especially when played by Alan Rickman) is badass, tragic and looks cool in a cape. But they’re not the only great characters. In fact, it’s not just the leads, but the dozens of fun supporting characters that make Harry Potter what it is.

In this list, I’m going to leave out the leads (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape) and look at my top 11 supporting characters.

11) Angelina Johnson

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Angelina Johnson may only be a back ground character, but her presence was a breathe of fresh air in this series. I’m not going to rant about the problems I have with the way women were written in this series, but I will say that until Luna came along and Ginny became a tough character, most of the female students were portrayed as silly, less able to keep their head in a tough situation and/ or over emotional.

Johnson however felt like a well needed exception. Sporty, fun, brave and a great Quidditch player, she was one of the ‘cool kids’ and put herself forward to be the Quidditch captain and a contender for the Tri Wizard tournament. She was bold and active, the kind of girl I wanted to imagine myself as being when I was reading the books.

10) Professor Lupin

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The calming element of James’ friendship circle and a man whose lessons were always brilliant, Remus Lupin is the teacher we all wish we had. Plus, even though his curse literally turns him into a savage, he’s kind, mild mannered and one of the least aggressive and domineering werewolves in fantasy fiction.

9) Horace Slughorn

Horace Slughorn

Horace Slughorn was a much needed addition to the world of Harry Potter. The concept of Slytherin was that it was meant to be the ‘ambition house’ (or the ‘pure blood’ house), but it never seemed to be the case; the majority of the house didn’t really show that much drive, and they  were so cartoonishly nasty that it seemed like the only requirement was being a massive dick.

Slughorn helped to fix some of that. He wasn’t evil and unpleasant, he was ambitious and affable. He also went to great lengths to escape Voldemort, showing that you can be ambitious and opportunistic without being genocidal, something that helped give the morality of the Harry Potter world a more adult and well rounded feel.

8) Dobby!

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I had a room-mate once who said I reminded her of Dobby; I’m still not  sure how to feel about that

What can I say? everything about Dobby was adorable. Starting out as an abused servant who made a mess of things even as he tried to help, we saw him escape his vicious owners and strike out for himself and become his own , um, elf. Weird, sweet, unrelentingly loyal and not afraid to live his life how he wants to, Dobby is a truly memorable character.

7) Mad- Eyed Moody

The man looks like he just rolled off the set of Fury Road. Badass to the bone
The man looks like he just rolled off the set of Fury Road. Badass to the bone

A tough- no nonsense veteran badass who doesn’t mince words and knows how to take command, Mad Eye Moody is truly one of the cooler characters in the Potterverse.

6) Arthur Weasley

Arthur Weasley was just such a likeable character. A down trodden dad and one of life’s underdogs, Arthur was also a very loving father. Unlike his wife, who felt more like a caricature of well meaning but over protective motherhood than a real woman, Arthur was a well-rounded guy; his obsession with the Muggle world was adorable, and in spite of his goofy nature he could be capable, thoughtful and switched on when the situation needed it.

D'aww, only Arthur could ask such a question
D’aww, only Arthur could ask such a question

5) Sirius Black

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Of course Sirius was going to be on here. As Harry’s godfather, he was another parental figure that Harry needed in his life. The injustice that he had to deal with made him sympathetic, and how bravely he bore those events for the sake of Harry was deeply moving.

He was also a fun trickster who was clearly flawed (as shown by his attitude to Kreacher and Snape), which only made him all the more real. Tragic and mischievous, Sirius was the first Harry Potter character to truly break our hearts.

4) Neville Longbottom

Puberty is a wonderful thing
Puberty is a wonderful thing

Increasing the prominence of Neville Longbottom was a smart move on Rowling’s part. While Harry Potter was clearly meant to be a relatable every man hero, after he suddenly became the chosen one, the youngest Quiddich player in over a century, the school hero, he could clearly no longer fulfil that role.

Neville Longbottom resonates more with the experience us geekier ones had in adolescence than Harry or Hermione; he was awkward, chubby, and inept at everything and felt like he was a disappointment to his parents. But he was never just a loser; right from the beginning he was chosen to be in Gryffindor, and always showed potential in small understated ways, whether through his prowess in Herbology or his willingness to stand up for what he thought was right.

In the final book, it was heartwarming to see how strong Neville becomes to the point where even Voldemort can’t help but acknowledge how impressive he is. Plus, Matthew Lewis taught us that there’s hope for the ugly duckling. What more can you want from a character?

3)Luna Lovegood

EVANNA LYNCH as Luna Lovegood in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy
Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood

Luna Lovegood is an 11th hour character whose charm needs no explanation. She was funny, weird, unique, and sweet and the advice she offered Harry in his darkest hour was one of the more touching scenes in the series. Luna is definitely my favorite female character in the series.

2) Dolores Umbridge

Clearly this is the office of the devil
Clearly this is the office of the devil

Dolores is such a great villain that even Stephen King, creator of a legion of monsters who have haunted the dreams of millions, had to acknowledge how brilliantly evil she is.

Voldemort was an impersonal big bad, but Dolores was our own personal Hitler. Petty, beaurocratic and manipulative, she was able to control every aspect of Harry’s life and make it hell. We’ve all had someone like that in our lives at one point, so add in an annoying personal tick (ahem) and we have a recipe for one of the foulest most horrifying monstrosities In the history of literature.

Her habits were so enraging, and her rule of Hogwarts was so tyrannical, that seeing her lose control in the most cathartic, glorious, epic way possible was one of the most emotionally satisfying moments I have ever experienced when reading. And because of that, Dolores Umbridge has to be one of JK Rowling’s most brilliant creations.

1) Fred and George

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These two stole the series for me. I read with bated breath and a massive grin on my face, waiting to see what creative trouble they would cause. They were the characters with the most charisma in the series and stole every scene they were in. To top it off, in The Order Of The Phoenix they orchestrated one of the best, most cathartic and anarchic exits I have ever come across in fiction. This is why Fred and George will remain my two of my favourite characters of the series.