[SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen Fantastic Beasts ahead.]
Although it ultimately told a pretty self-contained story, detailing Newt Scamander’s trip to New York in 1926, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them wasn’t short on set-up for the four films to come. Biggest of all was the reveal that Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves was in fact Johnny Depp’s Gellert Grindelwald in disguise – making the movie’s events a key part of the story behind Grindelwald’s rise to power. In fact, between the unresolved No-Maj fears in America and the weight of Newt returning home to publish his book, the film let a number of plot threads dangling.
One of the most unexpected clues was the presence of Leta Lestrange. Noteworthy for sharing a surname with Voldemort’s future right-hand woman Bellatrix, Leta was introduced briefly as a former love interest for Newt whom he’s still not quite gotten over. Only seen so far in photograph form (played by Zoë Kravitz), many presumed this would become important later on – and now the movie’s director has confirmed it.
While speaking at a roundtable attended by Cinema Blend, Fantastic Beasts director David Yates (who is returning to helm the sequel) confirmed that Leta will indeed play a key part in the story going forward, appearing in the flesh in the next installment:
“Yes. Leta Lestrange comes into the second movie. She’s quite complicated and damaged and confused and Newt is absolutely still in love with her, so she has a kind of power over him, and she, yeah, she’s a kind of tragic figure, so we will see a bit more of her in the second movie.”
This isn’t the biggest surprise, but it does further give us an idea of what the next Fantastic Beasts film will entail. We already know a young Dumbledore will make an appearance, and with the series going all the way up to Grindelwald’s defeat in 1945 it’s unlikely MACUSA will keep him held for long. Lestrange, however, will be the next real taste of Newt’s personal journey from here.
It’s implied in the finished film (but confirmed in the original screenplay) that Leta was the real cause of the incident that led to Newt being expelled for Hogwarts, with the young Scamander taking the blame – so far from just pent-up feelings, there’s a serious history there. Where Leta is presently is unknown, but given how mournful Newt seems to be it’s fair to assume they’ve not seen each other in a long time. Assuming ideology plays a part, it’s possible she’s going to wind up (or already is) in “Team Grindelwald”. Regardless, by bringing her into the fold proper, there’s guaranteed to be a love triangle: Newt’s already awkward relationship with Tina will be much more complicated when there’s a dangerous former squeeze out there.
Some of the film’s detractors have taken umbrage with how little of Newt’s history we were given in the first Fantastic Beasts (with most of the backstory instead coming for Tina), but this shows that that isn’t an oversight on Yates or J.K. Rowling’s part. What brought Scamander this far is known and will slowly be revealed across the five Fantastic Beasts films.