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The Marvel Actor Who Might Replace Johnny Depp In Fantastic Beasts

The Wizarding World hasn't been the same since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 exited theaters in 2011. The original book series (and subsequent film franchise) are some of the most potent children's stories of the millennium so far. And yet, J.K. Rowling's follow-up to Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, simply hasn't had the same success.

There are a number of notable differences between the two series: Harry Potter is adapted from books, Fantastic Beasts is more geared toward adults, and the former is set in present-day Britain, whereas the latter is set in the United States during the roaring '20s — just to name a few. 

Then there's the villain issue.

Harry Potter's main villain is Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes), a man fixated primarily on ethnically cleansing the Wizarding World and exacting revenge on The Boy Who Lived. Fantastic Beasts focuses on Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), a sort of proto-Voldemort, who shares that latter-day dark lord's enthusiasm for the mass extermination and enslavement of all non-magic users ("no-maj" in series parlance, which is honestly part of the problem). 

The villain issue doesn't so much relate to the fictional evil performed in the films, but in real-life accusations of wrongdoing leveled against one of the dark wizards in question. Depp, who plays Grindelwald, has faced allegations from ex-wife Amber Heard of alcoholism and spousal abuse. After years of ongoing litigation and frustration from Potter fans, Depp finally left the role of Grindelwald at Warner Bros.' reported behest.

Despite diminishing returns, Fantastic Beasts is still set to stage a third attempt at recapturing the magic of the Harry Potter franchise, leaving fans with the question: Who will take over for Depp? We finally have our first potential answer to that question, and hold onto your hats because it's Mads Mikkelsen.

Fantastic Beasts and the cannibal who eats them

From the very moment Depp agreed to depart the Fantastic Beasts movies, people have wondered who would take his place. Grindelwald is too big a part of the new Potterverse stories to just to vanish, but there's already precedent for his appearance to change. In the original film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grindelwald called himself "Graves" and was played by Colin Farrell. Some people hypothesized this could mean that Farrell might return, however word coming out of a Deadline exclusive is that Fantastic Beasts director David Yates wants Mads Mikkelsen to take over, and that talks have already begun.

Mikkelsen almost instantly feels like a perfect choice thanks to his incredible pedigree for playing villains you often can't help but enjoy, if not outright root for. Mikkelsen played Stephen Strange's (Benedict Cumberbatch) arch nemesis Kaecilius in the MCU's 2016 film Doctor Strange. Mikkelson also joined the pantheon of Star Wars dads gone wrong as Galen Erso in 2016's Rogue One.

Of course, the biggest reason Mikkelsen's name is familiar to most is because he played the title role in the underappreciated Bryan Fuller series Hannibal. If there's a more beloved cannibal than Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the annals of horror, we can't think of one — even Leatherface can't come close!

While a deal is not official, Warner Bros.' intention is to stay the course and keep the third Fantastic Beasts film to its current release window of summer 2022. Filming with leading good guys Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law has already begun.