As the Potterverse explodes once again with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the next instalment in the franchise has been branded “racially insensitive” by some fans.
With the final trailer blowing everyone away, the action-packed footage included a closer look at Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald and gave us a hint of the dark wizard is planning next. The trailer also confirmed the long-held theory that Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s Claudia Kim is playing Potter-favourite, Nagini.
For anyone who missed it, there was a scene in the latest trailer where Ezra Miller’s Credence called out to Kim’s character and shouted “Nagini” before she transformed into a snake.
The news that an Asian actress is playing a slave/snake/Horcrux hasn’t sat well with the wizarding world and some have taken to the Twitterverse to air their concerns.
So Nagini is a Korean woman with an Indian name who lived in Albania later turned into a horcrux? What's next? She might as well be Harry's mother (Voldemort's his father) and Harry is actually not just a parseltongue but half-human half-snake. pic.twitter.com/vjUvWU1wOu
— Joseph 슬기로운솔로몬 (@seulgisolomon) September 25, 2018
“Let's retroactively turn a woman of color into a literal object owned by a white man inspired by nazis.” https://t.co/JYTQK6YFss
— Charles Pulliam-Moore (@CharlesPulliam) September 25, 2018
maybe “circus performer who turns into a murderous snake“ isn't the best choice of role for one of the two WOC in the franchise.
— Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor) September 25, 2018
someone is gonna write a take about how “omg this decision about nagini is actually WOKE Asians can b racist 😡so it’s okay if an asian woman is portrayed as an EVIL COLD SLIT EYED ANIMAL!!!” and i really won’t be here for it
— a 🦋 (@kyoshiisland) September 25, 2018
"Nagini is an Albanian snake"
"Nagini is actually a cursed human"
"A cursed WOC, in fact!"
"Played by a Korean!"
"Was in a circus! Voldemort's pet snake!"
–So Evil White Guy's pet is a WOC?
"I kept this secret for 20 years!"
–… *opens book* pic.twitter.com/mu8L5ZZAol
— S♠️☂️ (@blackcatblue9) September 26, 2018
The casting of Kim has caused a pretty big stir online as one of the few women of colour in the movie. 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was criticised for a lack of diversity as Carmen Ejogo joined the cast of Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, and Ezra Miller.
Although The Crimes of Grindelwald brings back Ejogo and Zoë Kravitz (after her Leta Lestrange cameo) while adding Kim, the diversity of the cast is still leaning towards white actors.
The Harry Potter movies aren’t exactly known for their Asian actors, with the main series only really being remembered for Katie Leung as Cho Chang. Unfortunately, what could’ve been seen as a big step for Asian actors with The Crimes of Grindelwald is now caught in the fangs of controversy.
That being said, Nagini is a pretty major part of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and at least we know Kim’s version of Nagini will be making it out of the spin-off franchise alive. Everyone knew that Nagini would have some sort of complicated backstory, and the story will come full circle with The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Fantastic Beasts now joins the likes of Ghost in the Shell‘s whitewashing controversy and claims that Ralph Breaks the Internet has “softened” Mulan’s features.
Thankfully, Disney’s live-action Mulan promises to ditch the racial stereotypes and fly the flag for Asian equality. Either way, Kim promises to be a major part of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, so expect the debate to continue.