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The Reason Grindelwald Was More Terrifying Than Voldemort

The ever-expanding cast of characters that inhabit the fictional Wizarding World stand as some of pop culture's most recognizable figures — for reasons both good and bad. Names like Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, and later, Jude Law) and Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson), for example, lend their wizardry talents to helping their allies, and making the world a safer place. Others, including Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) and Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), elect to abuse their gifts in pursuit of selfish, villainous ventures.

For years, fans of the books and films alike have cited Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) as the single most terrifying of these evildoers, and for good reason. Given his intimidating look and masterful spell-casting, it's difficult to make a solid case against this claim. 

However, there's one wizard who the Harry Potter series only mentioned fleetingly, who is now shaping up as a major player in the Fantastic Beasts prequels, and could easily dethrone the Dark Lord in this regard: Gellert Grindelwald.

Formerly played by Johnny Depp, the mischievous wizard made his big-screen debut in 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, cementing himself as the movie's main antagonist, and one of the Wizarding World's biggest threats. His desire to overtake the Muggles, and his violent means of doing so, are worrisome enough. It is his proficiency with one of the most powerful magical artifacts, though, which makes him and his intentions all the more concerning. Simply put, the former Tom Riddle can't hold a candle to Grindelwald's frightening potential.

Grindelwald's time with the Elder Wand gives him an edge over Voldemort

In the Wizarding World, there's no single wand more remarkable than the powerful, and equally dangerous, Elder Wand, making whoever wields it nigh unstoppable. It grants its owner abilities unlike anything a traditional wand had the strength manifest, and, as a result, it's effectively impossible for any wizard or witch to control it successfully. However, for Gellert Grindelwald, who spent much of his formative years working with and studying it, the object has proved the perfect tool to enact his malicious plans.

As discussed by Screen Rant writer Pri Rosa, Voldemort and Grindelwald both deserve recognition as remarkably sinister men, but the latter's familiarity with the Elder Wand makes him the marginally scarier of the two. By the time Grindelwald started running roughshod across the Wizarding World as an adult, he had full control over the wand, and, by proxy, access to dark magic that no other wizard could contend with. It took Dumbledore, Grindelwald's childhood friend and lover, to do what no one else could: defeat him, and revoke his weapon, in a duel for the ages.

For comparison's sake, Voldemort held the Elder Wand for a brief period, but failed miserably to harness its power, much less achieve his planned Muggle genocide. He ultimately fell at the hands of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and, in the end, stood no chance of coming anywhere close to Grindelwald's level with the Elder Wand. This makes it incredibly clear who the true "big bad" of the franchise really is.