‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’ Details: A Controversial Word, Newt’s Pet, And The Salem Witch Trials

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie will take Harry Potter fans to a new part of the wizarding world, but some fans of the original films and books aren’t so sure that they’re going to like listening to the American wizards that magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) will encounter during his stay in 1926 New York.

Entertainment Weekly recently leaked a massive amount of information about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which has been exciting for Harry Potter fans. However, some Muggles have a slight niggle with one of J. K. Rowling’s smaller creative decisions. According to USA Today, fans are furious with Rowling’s revelation that American wizards will call non-magical folk “No-maj” instead of “Muggles.” The term is short for “no magic,” and Entertainment Weekly reports that it will be used rather often throughout the movie. It already looks like the frequent use of the term will ruin the film for some hardcore Harry Potter fans — many proud Muggles are complaining about American wizards’ terrible taste in slang on Twitter.

No-Maj. I suppose the villain will be called ‘Bad-Gai’ or something equally literal. #FantasticBeasts — Robert Manion (@robertmanion) November 5, 2015

Main character Newt Scamander is British, so maybe Eddie Redmayne’s animal collecting-character will eventually set those silly Americans straight by introducing them to his superior derogatory term for the humans who don’t have awesome magical abilities.

Unfortunately, the No-Maj aren’t as harmless as they seem, and they might get revenge for that annoying epithet. In Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, American wizards and witches are “fearfully hiding from Muggles.” This is because they’re being targeted by a group magic-hating Muggles who mean business — the witch hunters have dubbed themselves the New Salem Philanthropic Society (or “New Salemers”) after the Salem Witch Trials. The persecution of Salem witches is considered a terrible tragedy to the American wizarding community, and it sounds like the New Salemers might be interested in finishing what the folks in Salem started by wiping out witches and wizards. The group will be led by a character with the harmless-sounding name Mary-Lou (Samantha Morton).

During his journeys, Newt Scamander will be joined by three other important people who are considered main characters in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) employee Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), Tina’s legilimens sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol), and a No-Maj factory worker named Jacob (Dan Fogle). Fogle’s upbeat, aspiring baker is the first Muggle main character in the Harry Potter world.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will also introduce viewers to a few beasts, of course. Newt will have a pet Niffler, the treasure-hunting critter that Hagrid introduced his students to in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book. Newt loves his Niffler, but Eddie Redmayne says that the playful pet can be “aggravating” at times. This might be because the Niffler has a habit of taking off whenever it sees a glint of gold. Newt and his pet will encounter a few scarier fantastic beasts, like the Lethifold, a cloak-like creature that suffocates people in their sleep, and familiar beings like merpeople will also make an appearance in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Newt has a traveling zoo, of sorts, where he keeps a few of the fantastic beats that he has found. His battered briefcase is actually a magical item that is way bigger inside than it looks (think Hermoine’s handbag and Perkins’ tent, but on a much larger scale), and it contains a menagerie of rare magical creatures living in their natural habitats.

Newt’s reason for visiting New York in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is being kept under wraps, but there’s a number of reasons a magizoologist’s services might be needed in the city. Perhaps he’s in town to capture magical creatures that are running amok in Central Park, or maybe he’s there to offer his expertise on how to save a fantastic beast that is losing its natural habitat because of something humans are doing.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them hits theaters on November 18, 2016. Are you looking forward to it, more or less, now that you know a few more details about it?

[Photo by Robin Marchant / Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences]