7 Things HBO Max Should Do Differently with Harry Potter
HBO Max can add several important characters and storylines to their Harry Potter series that the films left out.
"Reboot" can sometimes be a dirty word. There are films that have deserved it over the years, with the reboot sometimes being even more successful than the original, ala A Star Is Born. Then the opposite end of the spectrum with Fantastic 4, which was cringeworthy at best. No one expected it or wanted it for Harry Potter, yet here we are with HBO’s latest announcement that each book will be getting its own season.
Hard to imagine a franchise that ended only 13 years ago needs to be redone, especially with how successful all eight films were. But as a fan of the books with a certain level of acceptance of the news, I’m looking forward to it now that it's happening. Controversial decisions aside, all readers of the book have to acknowledge there were extremely important characters and storylines that were scaled down or cut completely, and with HBO and Max's (formerly HBO Max) longer version of storytelling, that can only mean good things are ahead for a franchise that has diehard fans. Diehard fans who rival those of Star Wars, Marvel, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Lord of the Rings.
I’m a fan of the potential storytelling and my imagination has been running wild since I heard the news. Let's take a look at some moments from each book that can only add depth to an already beloved franchise. The first two movies were the ones most closely adapted from the books. They're short and not much was cut from them, but let's see what we can dig up.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone
Towards the beginning of the book when Harry first gets his Hogwarts letter, his aunt and uncle flip out, with Uncle Vernon taking Harry and the rest of the family to an island in hopes of keeping the truth of Harry's heritage from him. The book goes a step further and the Dursleys' desperate escape from the letters takes them to several more places before they end up on the island. Like I said, there aren't a lot of cuts that are worth mentioning, but this would be fun to see.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
We really only see the ghosts in the first two films and I don't think we ever see Peeves, but they all play a part throughout the series. A fun scene to have included would be Sir Nick's death day party that Harry, Hermione, and Ron visit before coming across the first victim of the Basilisk.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Quidditch is huge in the Wizarding world. In the third book, we see Harry lose his first game due to the dementors. It is also in the third book that we see Harry help lead Gryffindor to winning their first Quidditch Cup since Charlie Weasley was a student. It's a light moment which would be fun to see. Hopefully, we will get to see more than one quidditch match a season.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The page count jumps significantly in book four and there are several cut characters and story arcs to choose from. Ludo Bagman and his goblin gambling issue is fun, but it's Hermione's creation of S.P.E.W. that I am most looking forward to. It starts when Barty Crouch Sr. fires his house elf, Winky, at the Quidditch World Cup and reintroduces us to Dobby, who has found employment in the Hogwarts kitchen. While the organization doesn't pan out, the treatment of house elves plays a significant part in the story going forward.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There is a lot I can say about this one. The longest book was turned into the shortest film; it was disappointing how much was missed out on. From unknowingly seeing the Slytherin locket, to Harry and the Weasley twins getting kicked off the Quidditch team, to Kreacher's role in Sirius's death, to how much the battle in the Ministry of Magic was cut down, there is a lot that we might get to see. What I find most intriguing is potentially seeing the aftermath of the Ministry battle when Dumbledore finally reveals the prophecy to Harry. Harry basically destroys his office while dealing with the guilt of Sirius's death and the weight of knowing he has to kill Voldemort. It's emotional and powerful and I hope we get to see it.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The movie was a bit of a letdown to me, as was the book, but there were a few key elements the book handled better than the film. Dumbledore taking Harry into memories of Voldemort's past to help unravel the secret of Horcruxes could have been played out better. They changed the technique of going into a pensieve and cut a few vital moments that would have only helped with story elements in the seventh and eighth films. The sixth book covers a lot of relationships. We are introduced to Fleur again and find out she and Bill Weasley are engaged as she spends the summer at the Burrow. We find Tonks pining over Lupin throughout the book before they end up together after Dumbledore's death, and we get to see Harry finally perceiving Ginny as something other than Ron's little sister fangirling over him. The relationships are key and all of them play a role going into book seven.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The final battle was the biggest miss for me in the films. They dramatized too much of it and drifted away from what the book accomplished. Hopefully, we get to see a more accurate interpretation this time around. However, what I hope they focus on in the show is Harry's dwindling faith in Dumbledore after coming across Rita Skeeter's biography of him and his relationship with Grindelwald. It's important as it relates to the Deathly Hallows. When Aberforth Dumbledore tells the tragic fate of his sister and the three-way duel that killed her, it's a heavy moment before the final battle for the Wizarding World. The second and probably most important event I hope they dive into is Harry watching Snape's memories. He gets a glimpse of both of his parents as young children and Snape interacting with both. When he hears Dumbledore tell Snape that Voldemort must kill Harry himself, it makes it all the more devastating.
Lots of Potential
The show obviously won't be able to include everything, but there is so much more that can be added between Centaurs and House Elves, both of which have important roles to play. It would also be intriguing if the showrunners take us back to before Halloween 1981 and the death of James and Lily. Seeing the Order losing ground and hope as the Death Eaters nearly take over the world killing Order members left and right would definitely set the tone for what is to come.
Casting will be key, not only for the three children taking over the iconic roles of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, but also for characters you wouldn't think too much of. Harry's parents were only 21 when they died. One of the things the movies did poorly was cast people who looked to be in their 40s. Having the whole story at their disposal now, "Max" could actually film all of his parents' scenes from the get-go so that, like ghosts, they never age. Continuity can be better and the choices from one season to the next can be more impactful.
Does this show need to be made? No. Was anyone asking for it? Doubtful. Now that we are getting it though, I'm 100% on board and can't wait to see what they come up with. Just remember to take it easy on the kids; they have large shoes to fill and don't deserve your anger and judgment; regardless of if you enjoy the show or aren't a fan of the J.K. Rowling's views.