5 Steps To Easily Replace 'Harry Potter' Forever
Imagine if Orson Scott Card became the most successful children's lit writer in the world before we all learned that he was a huge homophobe. Or imagine if it turned out that Abner Universal (for whom the Universal Studios Theme Parks are named) beat up all those pandas not in self-defense ... but for pleasure.
You see, that's the boat (named the "PR Nightmare") that Warner Bros. currently finds itself in. They went in hard on Harry Potter with movies, theme parks, and eventually a TV series, and it's all being threatened by J. K. Rowling's perplexingly nonstop transphobia. But there's a way for the studio to fix all of that. Here's how:
We Must Acknowledge That the Harry Potter Brand is Tarnished
First of all, screw Rowling for not having a more nautically themed name so we could make a "surf and TERF" joke. (Yeah, "Rowling" kind of sounds like "rowing" but it's just not the same.) Second, screw Rowling for being so goddamn relentless in her attacks on trans people. Going on Twitter rants about "men" being unable to become "women" is one thing, but she also went on to suggest that people are somehow being manipulated into transitioning by social media. Then, for good measure, she made the villain in her novel Troubled Blood (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) a cross-dressing serial killer.
And guess what? The fans really don't like it! Two major Harry Potter fan sites, MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron, cut ties with Rowling completely, removing mentions and pictures of her from the sites. The author has poisoned their enjoyment of a world that they came to love so much, they now basically have to pretend as if Harry Potter mysteriously came into existence one day without anyone actually writing it.
The Harry Potter actors are right there with them. Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint have all spoken out in support of trans rights and against Rowling. Warner Bros. would probably rather have the trio be found cutting open a dolphin to retrieve a pound of coke than them badmouthing their cash cow. The key to maintaining any kid franchise is the ability to nurture new generations of fans. And the fact is, the new generation is largely sensitive to things like trans issues, so Rowling might be keeping new readers away from getting into Harry Potter.
Which is Warner Bros. should be smart and replace HP with The Books of Magic.
The Books of Magic IS Harry Potter Without J. K. Rowling
First, take a good, long look at Harry Potter.
Psyche, that ain't Ol' Thunderhead. That's Tim Hunter from The Books of Magic comics, the ongoing series of which was written by John Ney Rieber.
Like Harry, he too is a boy wizard with the potential of becoming the most powerful mage in the world. He also never knew his real parents. He fought a magical beast (a Manticore instead of a Basilisk) that ended up poisoning him. There's also something in the story about a dead unicorn and manifesting animals that best suit your soul. There's even a Molly in the world of Tim Hunter. Only here she's his girlfriend instead of his wife's mom. (Although it's not too late to retcon that into the world of Harry Potter. Hell, it wouldn't be any worse than Rowling tweeting "Ron can only achieve an erection when Hermione farts on his balls," and we assume that one's out there already.)
But for all the similarities between Tim and Harry, there are some differences between the two, and none of them work in Potter's favor. From the start of the books, it was clear that Harry is (and will) continue to be a good guy and a great wizard. It's not that straightforward with Tim. The entire story is actually about whether he'll become a good or evil wizard, and you never really know which road he will choose. Tim has real struggles and the arc of his journey isn't obvious from the start.
THAT'S the character Warner Bros. owns (and should) replace Harry Potter with. Not only will it allow them to make a whole bunch of new movies, they won't have to make many changes to their theme park (plus, they'll be able to get rid of Ron). As an added bonus, they won't have to worry about the story's authors ruining things for them. Although the ongoing The Books of Magic series was written by Rieber, the face of the story is the man behind the miniseries that first kicked things off: Neil Gaiman. The same Neil Gaiman that geeks love. The Neil Gaiman who had a cameo on freaking Arthur. This plan literally has no drawbacks.
The Books of Magic Predate Harry Potter
You might be wondering why Gaiman hasn't been sued for so obviously ripping off Rowling. But, see, his miniseries came out in 1993, with the ongoing series being published in 1995. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone came out in 1997. So, reading this, you might be wondering how in the world Rowling hasn't been sued for so obviously ripping off Gaiman.
Look, we know that many of you really love the Harry Potter stories but there are literally hundreds of books with bizarrely similar elements out there. Even outside Harry being on an obvious hero's journey that we've seen countless time before, there just aren't that many ways of telling a story about a young person discovering magic. More than that, Harry Potter clearly draws a ton of inspiration from popular culture, sometimes consciously. Rowling admitted that, for example, Snape was basically Heathcliff. (The one from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, not the orange cat who likes to eat garbage, although it's not too late to retcon that into the world of Harry Potter.)
Other inspirations might be unconscious. Gaiman himself has never accused Rowling of plagiarism, instead chalking the similarities between the two stories to either a coincidence or both of them ripping off T. H. White's The Once and Future King. We bring this up to illustrate that, legally, Warner Bros. has nothing to worry about. They literally cannot lose on dropping the Potter franchise completely and replacing it with The Books of Magic. They can only win, both financially and in terms of securing a whole generation of fans because of how crazy-awesome the adventures of Tim Hunter really are.
The Books of Magic Is Actually Pretty Wild
So, we have a confession. We're going to have to go back to that whole summary of The Books of Magic from earlier, and we'll have to bring an industrial digger with us because we buried the lede. See, what we didn't tell you is that in order to learn about magic, Tim is taken on a tour of space and time by some of the greatest magicians in the world. A tour that literally starts with him visiting the birth of the universe, going all the way to its eventual death. And, honestly, this is like the 20th craziest thing that happens in the comics.
There is an alternative evil Tim in the story who comes from the future where he's tortured multiple versions of his girlfriend. He also believes that he controls a powerful demon from Hell, but it's the other way around. The demon secretly controls him and he's messing with his mind, making him think that he lives in a giant-ass mansion when in reality he lives in a cardboard box in a dirty alley. The young Tim might have fallen victim to them if not for his guardian angel. No, he has an actual guardian angel. His name is Araquel and he's technically a fallen angel because he fell in love with a human woman and had a child with her. In the movie version, he HAS TO BE PLAYED BY NICOLAS CAGE. This is non-negotiable.
The entire comic book is like that, and the tropes are teen angst a-go-go, just like, you guessed it, Harry Potter. We haven't even mentioned how the knowledge of the evil future Tim messes up present Tim so much, he gets a magical scorpion tattoo on his chest that stings him whenever he gets angry, so that he'll never hurt his girlfriend. There is real darkness and creativity to The Books of Magic that you just won't find in Harry Potter. It's also just the kind of thing that can and WILL save a future Justice League reboot.
Wait, What's This About the Justice League?
So, we have another confession. We left out some more info about The Books of Magic. You remember how we said that Tim was taken on a tour of the cosmos by some of the greatest magicians in the world? Yeah, so, one of them was Constantine.
John Constantine, yes. Yes, the one in the trenchcoat. Yes, that Constantine. How many fictional magicians named Constantine do you know? He's in the comic. As is, like, every single magic user from DC Comics, because The Books of Magic is part of DC. Meaning that, and we would really like you to brace yourselves, Tim Hunter, the potential new Harry Potter, can totally meet Batman.
But the stakes are much higher than this. The creation of a whole Potterverse-esque Hunterverse has the potential of giving a future Justice League reboot an original identity that will help it distinguish itself from Marvel. Because while a lot of the DC movies were great and original in their own way, Snyder's Justice League didn't have anything that really set it apart from the Avengers films. (Other than it not being very good.) But magic could fix that in a future reboot. Marvel technically has "magic" but it's incredibly ill-defined. It's basically a kind of science with more hand-waving, both literal and figurative.
Warner Bros. could go balls-out on magic, demons, devils, etc. with a Tim Hunter film series that establishes the supernatural rules of the DC-verse, and then use that to make an original and engaging Justice League movie. And the thing is, THEY WERE ALREADY THINKING OF DOING THAT. They wanted to make a live-action Justice League Dark movie starring John Constantine and focusing on magic for ages. But then they chickened out and made it an animated film. And it's absolutely amazing. One of the best animated DC flicks ever. All WB has to do is first make like a billion dollars with a The Books of Magic film series to set the tone and establish the rules, and then they can make three times as much with a Justice League film where Tim helps Batman and Superman punch Lucifer right in the breadbox.
If you're feeling a bit hot right now, do not panic. It's just the awesomeness of an idea that's literally causing the money in your wallet to burn with anticipation. Don't let it suffer. Demand Warner Bros. do the right thing and replace Harry Potter with Basically Harry Potter But With a Sick-Ass Scorpion Tattoo And Aquaman's Phone Number. We need this.
Top image: DC Comics, Scholastic