The lasting legacy of Harry Potter

DI arts reporter describes being a member of the UI Quidditch Club and the Harry Potter fandom

Adrian Enzastiga, Art's Reporter

Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. Ever since the first book The Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997 and the first film The Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001, the franchise has captivated audiences of all ages. 

Adults and children alike have lined bookstores and movie theaters dressed up as their favorite characters eagerly awaiting a new release. Their cosplay costumes are comic-con level quality, doing full makeup and hair with robes, wands, and glasses to transform their muggle appearance into that of a Hogwarts student.

The Harry Potter franchise is as relevant as ever today with UI classes, museum exhibits, and TV marathons promoting the beloved series. This weekend, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, a spinoff from the original series,  will hit theaters. A movie marathon running on SYFY is accompanying the release. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a sequel book,  has been adapted into a two-part theater productions in cities such as New York and London. Warner Brothers has also opened a museum dedicated to Harry Potter and its film production in London.

When I had the opportunity to join the UI Quidditch Club this year, I was ecstatic. I had never played Quidditch before, and I knew none of the rules. I learned quickly, however, scoring during a scrimmage at my first practice.

Real-life quidditch was founded in Middlebury, Vermont, in 2004 as a muggle sport based on the Harry Potter books and movies. There are relatively the same rules, except instead of flying on brooms, we run on the ground holding PVC pipes between our legs. For balls, we use a slightly deflated volleyball called the “quaffle” and dodge balls that represent the “bludgers.”

As a full-contact sport, quidditch players can tackle, just not from behind. Around-the-neck contact and sliding into players is also prohibited. During tournaments and scrimmages against other teams, I have received yellow cards for all of the above.

When players receive yellow cards, they have to sit out in the “penalty box” for one to two minutes, depending on the foul, or until the other team scores. During one game at the regional tournament in Cedar Rapids, four of our players were in the penalty box at the same time, leaving only two left on the field. During that time, our remaining players held their ground well and only gave up one goal.

The leaders of the team try to distance themselves from the Harry Potter fandom in an attempt to legitimize quidditch as just another sport. Some who joined the team hadn’t read the books or many of the movies. They joined for the athletics but have since been immersed in the culture of the Wizarding World.

I am still waiting on my letter from Hogwarts, but in the meantime, playing on Iowa’s non-flying quidditch team will have to do. The team provides such a unique community, combining fandom, nerds, and jocks alike.

I remember reading two of the Harry Potter books when I was little (The Chamber of Secrets and The Deathly Hallows) but what has really stuck with me are the movies. I remember watching The Prisoner of Azkaban over and over with my sister, and later my favorite out of the series, The Order of the Phoenix.

According to Pottermore, these seven fantasy books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and have appeared in 80 languages as of 2018. And according to Box Office Mojo, the eight movies made more than $7 billion at box offices worldwide, making it one of the highest grossing franchises of all time.

Considering the success of the originals, it wasn’t a surprise when Warner Brothers announced the prequel movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for 2016. The second in this prequel series Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindelwald came out Nov. 16; I saw the film with a group from the quidditch team.

The first Fantastic Beasts movie performed decently at the box office, Box Office Mojo showing a worldwide $800,000 gross.

However, the newest movie so far has received mixed reactions from fans and critics alike. Many fans criticize the movie for breaking canon previously established and relying too much on references and connections to the originals. While J.K. Rowling did not write the original movies, she is taking a more active role in writing these new ones. This is a little disconcerting, because the original mind behind the entire universe may not even be able to keep the stories organized.

Harry Potter and the Wizarding World have become timeless, with the lightning-shaped scar and John Williams’ score becoming iconic trademarks of the franchise. Seeing the new movies has made me nostalgic for magic and wand-dueling. From loyal fans to entire sports based on it, hopefully, the wizard world never loses its magic.