Harry Potter fans never really seem to talk about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016), the critically-acclaimed and award-winning British two-part play which took the West End and Broadway by storm a few years ago.
The play is based on a story by JK Rowling, and is canon to both the Harry Potter books and the Harry Potter movies (it was even marketed as “the eighth story in the Harry Potter series”). But perhaps that it’s neither of these mediums of storytelling is what makes it difficult to accept.
And despite being praised by critics, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t particularly well received by all the fans. In fact, it remains polarizing, with many fans describing it as being like “a work of fan fiction” that rehashes old storylines, while also criticizing the use of the Time-Turner.
All in all, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a mixed bag, and is hardly the strongest entry in the Harry Potter franchise. Putting the novelty of seeing Harry Potter come to life on stage aside, the two-part play is, for the most part, bloated, convoluted, and vastly derivative.
Not only that, but saying goodbye to Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) on Platform 9 3/4 at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) 19 years after their epic graduation from Hogwarts was a fitting end.
As such, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which picks up shortly thereafter, feels very contrived and unnecessary. You may of course disagree, but either way, the play remains both divisive and generally overlooked, for whatever reasons.
The story finds Harry Potter now working as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic, while his younger son, Albus Severus Potter, prepares for life at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
While onboard the Hogwarts Express, Albus befriends Scorpius Malfoy — son, of course, to Draco Malfoy. Unlike his father, however, Scorpius is a friendly nerd, and the two boys wind up being housed into Slytherin together, and go on to become great friends, not unlike Harry and Ron.
As the years pass, both Albus and Scorpius face struggles — Albus is living in the shadow of his father’s legacy, while Scorpius battles rumors that he is the son of Lord Voldemort/Tom Riddle. Eventually, the two friends begin to drift apart.
Meanwhile, Harry recovers a prototype of a more powerful version of the Time-Turner, a magical device that was last seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Amos Diggory, father of Cedric Diggory, who was killed in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), also appears.
Amos is still grieving for Cedric, so he begs Harry to use the Time-Turner to go back in time and save his son. Harry refuses, but Albus and Scorpius overhear this and decide to take matters into their own hands, so they steal the Time-Turner and travel back to Harry’s 4th year at Hogwarts.
Their plan to alter the outcome of the Triwizard Tournament fails, however, their actions cause a ripple effect which leads to many changes for the likes of Hermione, Ron, and a number of other characters. Consequently, the two boys return to the present day.
They later make a second attempt to save Cedric, and again revisit the Triwizard Tournament all those years ago. However, this time, upon returning to the present day, they learn that Lord Voldemort now rules the Wizarding World and that Harry Potter is dead, among many other major variations.
This is, of course, an entirely new timeline, created as a result of Albus and Scorpius meddling with the past. With the help of Amos’ niece Delphi, they try to destroy the Time-Turner, however, they learn that Delphi is the daughter of Voldemort, and that she intends to restore the new timeline.
Ultimately, Albus and Scorpius save the day, and the original timeline is restored (a tragic scene involves our heroes allowing the murder of Harry’s parents to play out, so that the future is unaltered). But what happens to the alternate timeline?
Philosophers would have a field day with such a question, and anything involving time-travel should be taken with a pinch of salt. But now that the multiverse concept has become popular in film, it begs to question whether or not one has been created within Harry Potter canon.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is very similar to Back to the Future Part II (1989), which also includes an alternate timeline in which the series’ main villain Biff Tannen (Thomas F Wilson) has become an all-powerful figure, while the protagonist’s father George McFly (Jeffrey Weissman) is long dead as a result.
The Time-Turner has been a headache for many Harry Potter fans over the years. Despite how seemingly clever the consequences of its use in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are, if you spend too much time thinking about it, it begins to make very little sense.
Nevertheless, a Wizarding World multiverse is something that can easily be introduced into the Harry Potter franchise, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child already seems to have created one. But should this be allowed to happen? Well, there are actually a few things it could fix.
For starters, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reaches a moment of brilliance. “Act Three” reveals the alternate timeline where Lord Voldemort rules the Wizarding World, with a mandatory annual celebration known as “Voldemort Day”.
However, this is quickly disposed of, much to the frustration of many Harry Potter fans. But this is something that can easily be revisited in future material, or even expanded upon in the inevitable big screen adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Secondly, there’s the Fantastic Beasts spin-off series. While Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) got off to a promising start, its controversial sequels Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022), failed to impress, much like the widely-hated Star Wars sequel trilogy. In other words, a multiverse could easily wipe this series from canon.
Even if Harry Potter and the Cursed Child didn’t open the doors to a Wizarding World multiverse, never say never, because where there’s magic, there’s a way…
Do you think there’s a Wizarding World multiverse? Let us know in the comments down below!