Harry Potter, the main protagonist of JK Rowling’s infamous story of a “boy who lived”, the chosen one, experiences the archetypal hero’s journey in the amazing and magical world of witches and wizards. When attending the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, students are placed into a house; one of the four groups based on his or her personality. The houses consist of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Harry is placed into Gryffindor, the house most commonly characterised by the nerve, chivalry, and tendency its members have to show off.
As such, Harry fits aptly into the “typical Hollywood hero” house.We all know how these fantasy hero arcs are unfold: a young man of unsuspecting nature has adventure and responsibility thrust onto him, and it just so happens that he’s the only one with the ability to change or save the world, as a result he transforms from a shy nerdy guy to a dapper mature man recognized with the status of a hero. It’s not uncommon for this evolution to involve fighting with some sort of flaming sword-like object; such as scenes with Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars” or Scott in “Scott Pilgrim V.S. the World”.
However, Newt Scamander, protagonist of the Harry Potter spinoff, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” is an unconventional male hero. Newt is a Magizoologist, essentially, he’s an expert in the care of magical creatures. His life’s work, his passion, is studying, nurturing and protecting these fantastic beasts, then writing textbooks in an effort to foster understanding and compassion for their plight.
He is the type of character which one would typically defer to sidekick status. Newt’s character is largely defined by his extraordinary ability to connect with magical creatures and by his relative inability to connect with other human beings. He is a british wizard who attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry but Newt is not Harry Potter. He’s a Hufflepuff.
The house characterized by friendship, hard work, and humility. Hufflepuffs are said to be more introverted and much less competitive than the other three houses. He is not “the chosen one” he does not have a supernatural ability with animals to rely on. Yet, Newt displays a masculinity atypical of that for a lead in a fantasy adventure story. How can one be so quiet, so vulnerable, yet have such a confident form of manhood, against all the social stereotypes brought to us from our favorite movies? Various news outlets such as The New York Post, The Village Voice, Slate, and The NEW Republic said Newt was “not a very engaging lead.
” who lacks “depth”, “soul”, and some even went as far as to say he was “physically ill”. All agreeing that he should not have been chosen as the centerpiece of a five piece franchise. It seems that we easily learn to forgive the arrogance and aggression in heroes but to take Newt and make him an exception when he displays humility, sensitivity, and other traits which are not derived from physical strengths, amazing rewards, and prophesied destinies. Let us not set Newts masculinity apart from Harry or Luke or Scott due to the stereotypes and prerequisites of being a normal hero and define him for the hero he is. After all, he’s not a normal hero.