We can all agree that Alfonso Cuarón was the best Harry Potter director, right? Prisoner of the Azkaban is the best movie in the whole franchise and any disagreement gets you a one-way ticket to a cell surrounded by Dementors. Given that level of acclaim, you’d imagine that Cuarón would be first in line for a return to the Wizarding World – but you’d be wrong.
Cuarón has made it clear that he doesn’t want to return for another Harry Potter movie, despite rumors linking him to the Fantastic Beasts franchise when those new movies were first announced. “Today, for the present, projects based around lots of visual effects don’t attract me,” he told Spanish news agency EFE (via Digital Spy) in 2014.
“It was a very beautiful experience for me. I have a lot of love for that universe,” Cuarón continued. “I’m coming out of a five-year process of doing visual effects and now I sort of want to clean my palate of that a little bit.”
Cuarón had just finished making Gravity – still one of his best movies, alongside Y Tu Mama Tambien – at the time of that interview, so we can understand why he didn’t want to dive straight back into the green screens and VFX work needed to create the world of our favorite Harry Potter characters.
He has been true to his word in the decade since, making his monochrome passion project Roma for Netflix and then moving on to psychological thriller series Disclaimer. That show, starring Cate Blanchett, recently completed filming and is heading to Apple TV.
But we can’t help but wonder what Cuarón could’ve achieved if he’d stuck with the Harry Potter cast and returned for Fantastic Beasts. His love of fantasy storytelling gave him a perfect eye for the darker edges of the Potter stories.
So while he would have been a strange fit for the colorful world of the first Fantastic Beasts, he could’ve done a terrific job with the rise of Grindelwald in the subsequent movies. That character needed depth beyond being a cult leader with different-colored eyes, and Cuarón’s back catalog shows just how much depth he can find in even the darkest characters. Children of Men, for example, is heavy on moral complexity.
We have more love for David Yates than most – Order of the Phoenix is a real feat of book-to-film adaptation – but we can imagine that Fantastic Beasts would have had more room to thrive under Cuaron. The Fantastic Beasts saga is parked for now but, if Cuaron had been at the helm, we might have actually made it to the Fantastic Beasts 4 release date by now.
But there’s no use crying over spilled Butterbeer. As we wrote in our Fantastic Beasts 3 review, the franchise has improved (a little). And thanks to Cuarón, we’ll always have Azkaban as a real treat when we sit down to watch the Harry Potter movies in order.
And heck, maybe Cuarón will decide he’s ready to return when the time comes for the Harry Potter TV series to start filming. We’d also love him to make the stage play into a movie, if he is willing to lean into the gay romance of the Cursed Child.
The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two charities we encourage you to visit: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and Mermaids in the UK.