Book Adaptations: How the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Series Destroyed Queenie

Screenshot of Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein in ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. Copyright goes to Warner Bros. Pictures and Heyday Films.

Hey! Hallie here!

I recently re-watched the first ‘Fantastic Beasts’ film and was immediately reminded of how much I loved Queenie in the first film. She’s feminine without being made fun of for being “too girly”. Her Legilimens powers were incredibly interesting and they promised an interesting future for the character once her powers became more necessary. She was just as strong as her Auror sister and her quick wit was apparent. And then the second movie undid all of this. I didn’t hate the second movie, which sets me apart from most other viewers, but I certainly didn’t like it. The way it turned Queenie into a dislikeable lunatic is one of the movie’s major offenses. In order to see just how awful and frankly sexist Queenie’s writing is, let’s look at the way each movie portrayed Queenie.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’:

Queenie is introduced in the first film in a somewhat sultry way. She’s drying the laundry in her apartment, and when she realizes that men are present, she is only in an underdress. This leads to a scene where Jacob gapes at her as she puts a more appropriate dress over it. But this scene isn’t dominated by the male gaze, as most scenes like this are. There’s no focus on her chest or curves, but rather on how beautiful she is in general. The scene focuses on her face and her shoulders, and the most striking part about it is how gorgeous her smile is. It’s also very clear with the way she flirts with Jacob for the rest of the scene, that she is purposefully attempting to draw his attention. She’s never shamed for embracing her femininity throughout the scene, though Tina does warn her not to get attached. But this isn’t all there is to her character. She shows genuine kindness towards both Newt and Jacob. She makes both of them a meal upon first meeting them, attempts to comfort Newt when she accidently reads his thoughts, and never cares that Jacob is a No-Maj. Later on she uses quick thinking to get all of her friends out of MACUSA, including unashamedly lying that Newt’s case is full of “ladies things”, which she knows will definitely keep men from searching it. She also bravely runs into danger alongside her sister regardless of her fighting experience. It isn’t often that you see a character praised for her femininity as much as Queenie is while still remaining one of the strongest characters in the film. I wish she stayed that way.

‘Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindlewald’:

At the end of the first movie Queenie reunited with Jacob in an end credit scene, implying that Jacob remembers her and may want to continue their relationship. It’s revealed at the beginning of the second movie that he did recognize her, but he’s tentative to continue their relationship because he doesn’t want her to be punished for being with a No-Maj. Queenie uses a love potion to force him to accept her marriage proposal. This strong woman is reduced to a crazy stalker who kidnaps her boyfriend because he’s afraid for her safety. Nothing about her behavior is excusable, especially because of the obviously immoral nature of a love potion, and even Newt scolds her for her use of it. After Jacob explains the situation, Queenie freaks out and runs away. On her own, she’s comforted by Grindlewald, the mass murderer, and she quickly warms to him. So much so that she makes the decision to join him at the end of the movie. When she tried to persuade Jacob to join her and he understandably refuses, her reaction is frightening. It’s as if there’s no semblance of sense left in her. Even Jacob becomes frightened of who she’s become. And none of it makes sense. She’s portrayed as dumb, both for using a love potion and for trusting Grindlewald so easily. In the first movie she showed both emotional and general intelligence in almost every scene. Also, the second movie makes all of her motivation entirely revolve around an unhealthy obsession with a boyfriend she once valued and loved. Her celebrated femininity turns into the stereotype of the insane wife and her kindness is instead portrayed as an obsession with romance.

I will always be upset with the way Queenie, one of the most amazing female characters in recent years, was reduced to nothing. She was strong without relying on male tropes. This is actually quite amazing because movies have recently been mistakenly calling female characters with mainly male traits, “strong”. Strength in women does not come separate from femininity, and Queenie proved that. Up until the woman-who-must-not-be-named decided to undo it all. I suppose this should be added to the list of reasons why you shouldn’t give the next ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies your money.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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