The Fantastic Beasts films have been one unexpected twist after another. The first movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, purported to be the beginning of a trilogy about a Hufflepuff magizoologist and his animal friends, but then ended with a twist that revealed the real antagonist was Grindelwald. Then, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald introduced a young Dumbledore, only to end in a twist by bringing in an even younger Dumbledore, Albus’ supposed long-lost brother. Now, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore finally cleared up Aurelius Dumbledore’s identity, even as it suggested he wasn’t long for the franchise.
Warning: Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore follow. The Fantastic Beasts movies have seen their share of controversy, from behind-the-scenes drama over cast members Johnny Depp and Ezra Miller to J.K. Rowling’s hurtful opinions about trans people. The third film’s release date ended up getting pushed back significantly, and in the meantime, plenty of fans walked away from the franchise.
If these controversies were limited to just offscreen issues and the movies were spectacular, it would be one thing. (There are many beloved problematic authors in the world, with fans who still love the stories.) But the Fantastic Beasts films have also been controversial onscreen. For a small example, Minerva McGonagall is in the films, even though (according to the Wizarding World’s own lore) she wasn’t born yet. For a much bigger example, the movies are titled Fantastic Beasts, but they mostly focus on Dumbledore and Grindelwald, not Newt and his animals. Biggest of all was the introduction of Aurelius Dumbledore in the second film, which fans disliked and whose story didn’t line up with everything fans knew about the Dumbledore family.
In the film, Ezra Miller, who plays Credence, aka Aurelius Dumbledore, insisted his character’s identity was legit. But Fantastic Beasts 3 finally explained that although he is a Dumbledore, he’s not the brother of Aberforth and Albus, as the second film claimed. Instead, he’s Albus’ nephew and Abelforth’s son, born out of wedlock.
Some fans had speculated this might be the case, especially since Aurelius being the much younger son of Percival Dumbledore (Albus’ father) didn’t make sense in the timeline since Percival would have already been locked away in Azkaban when Aurelius was conceived and born.
But the real surprise is why the phoenix keeps hanging around Aurelius in the films: He’s gravely ill. Like Albus and Abelforth’s deceased sister, Ariana, Aurelius’ being an Obscurial has led to poor health, and he doesn’t have that much longer to live. Although Albus’ main aim in following Grindelwald is to stop him from stealing the Wizarding World election, his other hope is to help Aberforth find his son and bring him home to live his final days in peace.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is in theaters now.