Warning: Major spoilers ahead for “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.”
Credence had popped up in the trailer for the second instalment, so it’s not a surprise that he’s alive and well. But as it turns out, Credence is an extremely pivotal character in the new “Harry Potter” franchise.
Much of the film focuses on the young wizard’s desire to understand his identity and uncover his true lineage. Credence was raised by Mary Lou Barebone, an abusive No-Maj anti-magic activist, who forced her adopted son to suppress his magic – leading to the development of his dangerous, parasitic force.
The film’s complicated, convoluted plot builds up to the big reveal about Credence’s biological family.
This is your last chance to head back before spoilers.
After Credence joins Grindelwald’s growing army, the dark wizard reveals that Credence’s real name is Aurelius Dumbledore.
“Your own brother wants to destroy you,” Grindelwald tells Credence, referring to his own nemesis (and, of course, a Wizarding World linchpin) Albus Dumbledore.
The unexpected reveal will undoubtedly have many viewers reeling. Fans had already been speculating about Credence’s ancestry and ties to the larger “Harry Potter” universe; some theories postured that he might be related to Voldemort, while others tied him to Severus Snape.
So does the actual reveal make any sense? Here’s what we know.
The timeline doesn’t quite match up.
We already know that Dumbledore has a complicated family history.
Dumbledore’s younger sister, Ariana, was attacked by magic-fearing muggles when they were both children. This caused her a great deal of trauma: “It destroyed her, what they did. She was never right again,” Dumbledore’s brother, Aberforth, explains in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
“She wouldn’t use magic, but she couldn’t get rid of it; it turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times she was strange and dangerous.”
Many fans have since interpreted Ariana’s illness as an Obscurus (though this type of magic was never mentioned in the original series).
Dumbledore’s father, Percival, goes after the boys who attacked his daughter. Rather than explain his reasoning, for fear that Ariana would be taken away from the family, he was sentenced to Azkaban.
Percival was imprisoned before Dumbledore began attending Hogwarts in 1892. (We know this because it’s noted in his obituary, written by his close childhood friend Elphias Doge, that students were initially wary of Dumbledore; they assumed he was a muggle-hating bigot like his father.)
Ezra Miller has publicly stated that Credence is 18 years old in the first “Fantastic Beasts” film, which is set in 1926.
This all but rules out the idea that Credence could be Dumbledore’s full brother; he would need to be at least 34 years old to be Percival’s son, as we know the Dumbledore family patriarch spent the rest of his life in Azkaban.
Dumbledore’s mother died in 1899, at least eight years before Credence was supposedly born.
Dumbledore graduated from Hogwarts in 1899 and had to return home immediately due to his mother’s unexpected death (at the hands of an out-of-control Ariana).
Credence’s known age in the first “Fantastic Beasts” film puts his birth date sometime between between December 8, 1907 and December 6, 1908.
Even if Miller was off by a couple of years when stating Credence’s age, it seems highly unlikely that the character was born before 1900. Additionally, if Credence were to be Kendra’s son – making him Dumbledore’s half-brother – he wouldn’t be a true Dumbledore.
Credence could be related to Dumbledore in another way.
We now know from a flashback in “Crimes of Grindelwald” that Credence was brought to America from England as a baby. The woman with him in this flashback is credited as “Credence’s aunt” on IMDB.
It’s possible that Credence is actually Dumbledore’s cousin – the son of his aunt, Honoria. She is first mentioned in the “Harry Potter” spin-off book, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard.” It is unknown whether she is Percival’s sister or Kendra’s.
We know that Credence is an essential part of Grindelwald’s plan for world domination.
The first “Fantastic Beasts” film follows Grindelwald, disguised as government official Percival Graves, as he tries to find an Obscurial in New York City.
Grindelwald believes that Credence’s adopted sister, Modesty, is the Obscurial; the magic’s destructive nature means that no documented Obscurial has survived past age 10. Believing him to be a Squib, Grindelwald enlists Credence as a means of getting closer to Modesty. The dark wizard manipulates Credence throughout the film.
When Credence is revealed as the true Obscurial, Grindelwald attempts to recruit him. It is implied that Grindelwald wants the raw, unharnessed power of the Obscurus to aid him on his mission to rule both magical and non-magical communities.
In “Crimes of Grindelwald,” the tyrant’s greater plan for Credence begins to unsnarl. He tells one of his followers that Credence is the only wizard who stands a chance to defeat Dumbledore, who poses the greatest threat to his plan.
Because Credence has been able to survive this long with an Obscurus, it’s implied that he is a wizard with tremendous latent power. (It would be ignorant, however, to suggest that this is proof he descends from a powerful wizarding family like the Dumbledores. Hermione Granger is muggle-born, after all.)
There’s no way Grindelwald knew about Credence’s “true parentage” during the events in the first film.
It seems clear that Grindelwald truly believed Modesty to be the Obscurial and Credence to be worthless. He tried to discard the boy when he believed he was no longer useful; Grindelwald would not have done this if he knew Credence was a Dumbledore.
This must mean that Grindelwald learned the “true identity” of Credence sometime during the course of “Crimes of Grindelwald,” as he was incarcerated and heavily guarded throughout the short time between the two films.
This feels… extremely convenient. The Obscurial he was seeking also happens to be the brother of the most powerful wizard of all time – not to mention Grindelwald’s ex-friend and now-nemesis – all along?
Grindelwald could be lying.
We know that Grindelwald is highly manipulative. Indeed, he’s so eloquent and calculating that the Magical Congress of the United States of America found it justified to remove his tongue – presumably because he was able to persuade multiple different guards to help him escape. (And, obviously, it worked.)
Of course, this would not be the first time Grindelwald has lied to Credence in order to recruit his help.
We already know that he was partially lying to Credence during the pivotal reveal scene: Dumbledore does not want to destroy Credence. He asked Newt to help the young boy, to keep him away from Grindelwald’s clutches. This feels like a clear manipulation tactic to turn Credence against Dumbledore, Grindelwald’s enemy – an enemy whom he cannot fight on his own, due to a binding blood pact the two wizards made as teenagers.
This could simply be an attempt to pit Credence against Dumbledore.
Grindelwald asks one of his followers, “If I ask you to go to Hogwarts and kill Dumbledore, would you do it?”
The answer, of course, is no. No wizard, apart from Grindelwald, is thought to be a match for Dumbledore. But maybe Credence could be a match, too?
If Credence can learn to harness the power of his Obscurus, he would be an immensely formidable wizard. He has never had any formal training, and yet he has already killed multiple people and destroyed half of Manhattan.
By telling Credence that his “brother” has turned his back on him – and that he even wants to “destroy” him – Grindelwald could be manipulating Credence to channel his anger towards Dumbledore.
There is one compelling piece of evidence to suggest Grindelwald is telling the truth: Credence’s connection to phoenixes.
Early in the film, Dumbledore says that his family has an unspoken connection to phoenixes. Indeed, we learn in the “Harry Potter” series that Dumbledore’s Patronus is a phoenix. He also has a special connection to his pet phoenix, Fawkes.
Dumbledore says there’s a legend that a phoenix will come to any Dumbledore in need.
Credence is seen caring for a tiny bird early in the film. At the time, it’s suggested that the bird is a raven, which is the symbol of the Lestrange family.
At the end, Credence is seen caring for yet another baby bird; this time, Grindelwald reveals that bird to be a baby phoenix. This appears to be confirmation that he is telling the truth about Credence’s lineage – but, of course, it could always be a trick.
You can read our review of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” and follow along with our coverage here.