JK Rowling’s Wizarding World introduced us to Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Credence is a young man living in New York City in 1926 when Newt Scamander is passing through after working on his book.
Adopted by Mary Lou Barebone, Credence is raised in a household that believes “witches live among us”. His adopted mother is determined to rout out and destroy the hidden magical community. Mary Lou knows something is different about Credence and he is physically abused at her hands as she refers to his birth mother as a wicked, unnatural woman.
Credence is sought out by Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard that is using magic (most likely polyjuice potion) to take on the appearance of an American Auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) in order to infiltrate the American political system.
Grindelwald is in search of an obscurus, a powerful dark force he hopes to weaponize. An obscurus is typically formed when a witch or wizard tries to suppress their magical ability instead of harness it. The obscurus bursts forth, wreaking havoc and attacking. What Grindelwald doesn’t know is that Credence IS the obscurus.
Grindelwald’s First Obscurial
There is a good reason that Grindelwald is interested in obscurials (wizards that can turn into an obscurus). Readers of the Harry Potter series may recall the history of Albus Dumbledore as relayed by his brother Aberforth in the final Harry Potter book. Albus and Aberforth were sons of Kendra and Percival Dumbledore. They also had a younger sister, Ariana. When Ariana was very small, some muggle boys saw her doing the kind of magic typical of young witches and wizards when they cannot control their powers. They attacked her, and in return Percival killed the muggle boys. He is sent to Azkaban where he later dies. Kendra and her children flee to Godric’s Hollow. Ariana is mentally scarred from the incident and refuses to use her magic. According to Aberforth, “her magic turned inward and drove her mad, it exploded out of her when she couldn’t control it, and at times was strange and dangerous.” In other words – she was an obscurus, although the term is never used in the novel. Eventually, Ariana loses control and kills her mother.
Albus has just graduated from Hogwarts and returns to Godric’s Hollow to assume the mantle of the family, and at that time the teenage nephew of neighbor Bathilda Bagshot comes for a visit – Gellert Grindelwald. He and Albus are the same age, and for the first time Albus has an intellectually and magically talented equal. Their friendship – possibly crossing into obsession or relationship – is short but intense. During their few weeks together, Grindelwald would have seen Ariana and learned her secret. Then, one night, there is a fight between Albus, Aberforth and Grindelwald. During the fight Ariana loses control and is killed. Grindelwald flees, and Dumbledore and Grindelwald won’t meet again until their famous duel in 1945. But Grindelwald has seen the power of an obscurus and we can surmise he becomes obsessed with finding one he can control.
Credence’s Real Family
From the first Fantastic Beasts film, we know Credence has magical powers and we know he’s an obscurial. But who was his real family? The trailer for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has provided some answers. In one scene a man stands in a room gazing at a wall covered in writing. When zoomed in, it is the family tree of Credence Barebone.
Credence’s father is a wizard called Corvus Lestrange. (Lestrange is a familiar name to Potter fans, as the surname of Voldemort’s right-hand-witch Bellatrix. But remember, Bellatrix was born Bellatrix Black – cousin to Sirius – and is a Lestrange through her marriage to Rodolphus. There is no direct relationship of Credence to Bellatrix other than a shared last name through marriage.) Corvus had children by two women. The first witch (listed on the left side of the tree) was named Laurena Kama, and she had a daughter named Leta Lestrange. Leta (played by Zoe Kravitz in the Fantastic Beasts series) is a “close school friend” of Newt Scamander and is now engaged to Newt’s brother Theseus.
The second witch was Clarisse Tremblay (listed on the right side of the tree), and she had a son she named Corvus after his father. Clearly something happened to Clarisse, for her son Corvus becomes adopted by MaryLou Barebone and renamed Credence. Both names can be seen listed together. So Credence is a Lestrange and is the half-brother of Leta.
The image, while providing some information, also creates many questions. Where exactly is this place and why is this family tree scrawled on the wall here? The location appears to be in a sewer, and while Newt is not in the image from the trailer, he appears to be in the same location in a previously released image.
The man looking at the wall is most likely Dumbledore (he can be seen in a similar coat and hat earlier in the trailer), so why are he and Newt in a sewer? Did Grindelwald write these images on the wall? If so – when? Did he know this information about Credence during the first film? (He does tell Credence, “You’re a squib. You have magical ancestry but no power.”) Does he know Credence’s actual ancestry at that time, or does he find out the details after breaking out of prison in the upcoming story? Questions like these will keep the fans of the wizarding world guessing and obsessing for months to come.
What’s to come
Credence has been set on a dark path. He is from a long line of dark wizards – the Lestrange family. He is an obscurial and is being sought by the terrible wizard Grindelwald to be used as a weapon. American Aurors had orders to kill him and believed they had, so he is on the run and in hiding. Newt and Tina had tried to save Credence – will he remember that? Is it too late for them to save him? With four more movies to come, including The Crimes of Grindelwald to be released this November, there is much to watch unfold. Who will stand against the darkness?