Friday, May 24, 2024

Benioff and Weiss adapt Harry Potter

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It’s not uncommon around here to discuss book-to-film or TV adaptations. In fact, in some ways you might call it our bread and butter. However, this book snobbery is not limited to A Song of Ice and Fire. In my opinion, the Harry Potter film franchise has been one disappointment after another, with only Deathly Hallows Part 1 cutting any sort of muster. And truly, I look forward to the day that the BBC provides a proper adaptation.

But what if instead, I put the Harry Potter book series in the hands of Game of Thrones showrunners’ David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D)? Forget my silliness; critics seem to agree that their adaptation skills are worthy of multiple Emmys.

So here’s how it might look if D&D approached Harry Potter with the same level of sensitivity and understanding.

The first change? The entire series is called “The Dark Lord,” in favor of “Harry Potter.” Oh, and they encourage their actors not to read the books.


The Dark Lord I: The Magician’s Stone

  • Ron sort of subsumes Hermione’s character; he wins the chess game and helps Harry with the poisons.
    • She’s still there and everything, she just sits on the sidelines a lot, while men talk for her.
  • Azkaban mass breakouts happen here, to “up the stakes.”
    • Bellatrix is among those who escape. She is also combined with her sister, and turned into the mother of Draco/wife of Lucius. We get an extra scene where she goes home and hugs her son.
    • It’s never explained how these breakouts occur without Voldemort being back. They just happen.
  • Dumbledore is openly gay with a boyfriend (Cornelius Fudge), but it’s somewhat tasteful in how it’s portrayed.
  • All the ghosts are cut, as are all the pets except Scabbers.
  • Out of fear that Lily Potter’s name will sound too similar to “Luna,” D&D change it to “Daisy.”
    • They later end up cutting Luna.
  • We’re treated to random shots of Snape looking at a picture of Daisy and sniffling. He’s mostly just a quiet teacher, who seems fine with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
    • He’s still kind of mean to Neville, but it’s Neville fault all the time.
  • Neville is rather voyeuristic. All he does is think about how pretty all the girls in their class are, and ask the other boys if they’ve ever kissed someone. That’s how he bonds with Harry and Ron.
    • He’s also slightly foregrounded and takes some of Hermione’s lines.
  • All the quidditch players are male. No explanation given.
  • Hagrid is cut.
  • Quirrell is always assumed to be the bad guy; never Snape. Then they’re proven right in the end.
  • There’s no focus on academics. We get like, 2 classroom scenes.
  • There’s also an oddity where there’s no emphasis on the Houses. I mean, Harry and everyone are all still Gryffindor, but we always see non-Gryffindor students chilling in their common room, and belonging to a certain House doesn’t seem to have any marked impact on behavior.


The Dark Lord II: The Cursed Diary

  • Ginny is not like other girls, so she has Tom Riddle’s diary initially, but gets rid of it because she’s Strong™.
    • Hermione gets hold of it in the end. It’s framed as Hermione being stupid. Ron saves her, while Harry has an epic sword fight with the ghost of Riddle.
    • When asked why Hermione was put in that situation and not Ginny, D&D say:
      • “You have this storyline with Riddle’s Diary. Do you have your leading lady—who is an incredibly talented actor who we’ve followed for a movie already and viewers love and adore—do it? Or do you bring in a new character to do it? To me, the question answers itself: You use the character the audience is invested in.”
  • Bill and Charlie are combined into Percy, who was already established in the first film. It’s just clear that he’s the oldest.
    • D&D retcon part of the first film and pretend that he had been a 7th year in The Magician’s Stone, so he’s now graduated and not a prefect.
  • The basilisk attacks gay people, not the muggleborn, in the school. Dumbledore flees rather than Lucius manipulating the governors.
  • D&D invent a new character: Draco’s younger brother named Spike.
    • We get three scenes of Bellatrix struggling with letting him go to Hogwarts.
    • She’s also very concerned about Draco’s behavior and worries about him to Lucius. She thinks he’s too mean. What a good mom.
  • The Houses are blurred even more. The point system isn’t mentioned at all.
  • McGonagall tries to kiss Dumbledore under mistletoe during Christmas, and he goes EEWWWWW a GIRL.


The Dark Lord III: The Dementors

  • This opens with Harry already at the Burrow. He’s just living there now. No explanation, and we also never see the Dursleys again.
  • Lupin and Sirius are combined; they change it so Sirius was never in trouble. He’s just a dude. And a werewolf, so we always see him eating raw meat and making jokes. That is the sum total of his character
    • The marauders are cut completely. Sirius tells Harry that Wormtail betrayed his parents, and that’s that.
  • The dementors are there, but they’re not explained at all. They just show up, “for security.”
    • The dementors don’t soul-suck. They just have swords kind of like the Nazgûl from Lord of the Rings.
  • Harry still isn’t allowed to go to Hogsmeade even though he’s not in danger, so we still get the plot points of him sneaking out. Check!
  • We’re treated to a scene where we learn that Dumbledore killed Bellatrix’s father, a conservative preacher who didn’t believe gays should marry in his church. So she tearfully explains this to Spike, who then decides to help Voldemort return. For revenge.
  • Neville now openly hits on every single female classmate.
  • The divination scenes are altered so Trelawny seems like she knows her subject, and Hermione seems like a stoopid asshole for not listening to her.
  • Spike Malfoy is the one to get Scabbers away from Ron, because he magically knows it’s Wormtail. This allows Pettigrew to take his human form, and eventually lead all the dementors into a giant battle.
  • Time turner is cut; Hermione also sits on the sidelines for the battle.
  • To fight the dementors, instead of mastering the patronus, Harry comes up with a plan to arm everybody with swords made of chocolate. It turns out they are effective against the White Walkers dementors.
  • The tide of the battle turns, and Wormtail runs off into the woods, where he immediately raises up Voldemort again.
    • The Dark Lord saunters to the edge of the forest where the dementor troops are dwindling. He and Harry have a stare down.
    • Critics praise this choice for D&D showing the audience the “true stakes” of the series earlier.


The Dark Lord IV: House of Black

  • The events of the 4th and 5th books are combined into one movie.
  • From here on out, all dark wizards wear gladiator outfits that show off their abs.
  • As was mentioned before, Luna is cut. I cannot emphasize this point enough.
  • World Cup becomes a major plotline, but it happens after the school year starts.
    • Ron randomly bumps into a player from the Irish team in Hogsmeade and they ask him to practice with them. Then they end up recruiting him to play for the World Cup match. He says he only will if Harry is allowed to be seeker. There is a good thirty minutes devoted to the match.
    • Krum doesn’t even catch the snitch to lose with dignity; the Irish just win the game. No women are on any of the teams still.
    • Spike goes to watch the World Cup game. Every time something happens, we cut to a reaction shot of him.
    • Once the World Cup game ends, Ron, Harry, and Spike just go back to Hogwarts. No Death Eaters showed up to the match. No one mentions that any of this happened.
  • The Triwizard Tournament does not exist, but the Beauxbatons school is still at Hogwarts for this movie. Durmstrang is cut.
    • Without Karkaroff, we get scenes of Snape worrying to Dumbledore about his Dark Mark instead, even though Voldemort has already risen, so of course it’d be darker.
    • Snape’s dialogue is still the same as it was from his scenes with Karkaroff from the books, but obviously Dumbledore is responding differently, so it just becomes two guys asserting things near each other.
  • Dumbledore now has a lisp that he developed in between movies.
  • Beuxbaton girls are all scantily clad Veelas. Percy still works for the Minister and that’s how he meets Fleur. Instead of betraying his entire family and refusing to associate with them, he just leaves his job and runs off with Fleur because he loves her so much.
  • Because Voldemort is already back, there’s no point in Barty Crouch Jr. (or Sr.), so Moody just becomes the Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher. Umbridge joins as the new divination teacher that replaces Trelawny, because Trelawny fails her teacher competency test, despite being shown to be fine at her job before.
    • No reason was ever given for Sirius being replaced as a professor.
  • Fudge dumps Dumbledore, and then works overtime to get him canned through Umbridge.
    • Umbridge is a sexual manipulator; she hits on Snape, but he can’t be swayed because of his pure love for Daisy.
  • Dumbledore gives a passionate speech about how he’s fought too long as a gay man to be where he is, and that he must disappear before the homophobic dark wizards get him.
    • Just to be clear, the dark wizards really, really don’t like gay people. We must shake our fists at them.
  • Voldemort has amassed great power because he’s been around for a bit, so he plans another attack on Hogwarts.
  • Spike warns everyone of the imminent attack, which he learned from his mother.
    • It’s made clear that Bellatrix is struggling with her loyalty because she doesn’t like the homophobic crusade, and because with Dumbledore gone, she can’t get her revenge.
    • We get about 10 added scenes to explain this, including a scene where Bellatrix meets up with her cousin Sirius and confesses to him that she thinks she might be on the wrong side of all of this. She’s very sympathetic.
  • All the Beuxbaton girls cry during battle planning sessions, while the men calmly discuss what should happen. Ron ends up suggesting all the ideas they go with.
  • Though the battle and Umbridge’s quest to revenge Dumbledore on behalf of Fudge is the overarching “plot,” most of the season revolves around Harry’s love life.
    • Harry falls wildly in love with Cho. There is no Cedric. She loves Harry back. Their relationship has no conflict.
    • Sirius pops into Hogwarts randomly and gives Harry sex advice.
    • Neville tries to live vicariously through Harry’s sex life and continually asks him for details.
  • At the same time, Ron tries to actively pursue Hermione, but she rejects him in favor of Draco, the “bad boy.” It’s made clear that Hermione is being a cold bitch for doing this.
  • When the battle comes, Draco betrays everyone, and Hermione is devastated, but Ron won’t have her because she missed her chance.
    • Spike remains on the side of good. Critics praise how nuanced his character is.
  • Everyone fights with swords during this battle. Not magic, not guns… swords.
  • Voldemort kills Cho by stabbing her repeatedly, causing Harry to experience a lot of Man Pain. We are shown a lot of shots of her mutilated body.
  • Ginny is a totally badass warrior because she’s not like other girls. Harry even specifically says to her. She’s able to cut down a lot of Death Eaters, but only so long as they’re women too.
  • Dumbledore flies in on the back of a Hungarian Horntail and causes the Death Eater troops to retreat.
  • Bellatrix accidentally kills Sirius in the crossfire and is devastated to learn what she did. She finds Spike and urges him to stay at Hogwarts, but that it’s too late for her. It’s a very touching scene.
  • Harry vows to revenge Sirius by killing her.
  • The first scene had Wormtail kill an old dude, and the last scene will had everyone on the Hogwarts Express, when asked about the changes to the story, D&D say:
    • “The fourth movie is still very much within the books for the most part. The very first scene and the very last scene are book scenes. It’s more movie five that’s going to be diverging a bit.”


The Dark Lord V: The White Tomb

  • Despite a massive amount of dark wizards gaining power, most of this movie focuses on the love triangle between Hermione, Lavender, and Ron.
    • Hermione is working overtime to try and win Ron’s affection, but she does this by continually belittling Lavender.
    • They change it so that Hermione attacks Lavender, not Ron, with canaries, and this happens on more than one occasion, until Harry talks some sense into her.
  • Meanwhile Harry and Ginny get together. We get lots and lots of scenes of them flirting and fucking; Harry’s studies with Dumbledore and the pensieve are cut.
    • As a result, all flashes of Tom’s life are cut. He’s simplistically a bad guy, who wants to do bad things…usually to gay people.
  • At some point we learn that Percy leaves Fleur for Tonks, because Tonks “isn’t like other girls” either. She’s much more the type a guy like Percy would go for.
  • Rather than the fake-out with Snape killing Dumbledore but secretly being good, Snape instead is such a Good Guy™ that goes on a quest to hunt down and kill Wormtail, who is a really impressive enemy at this point.
    • They end up having an awesome duel, and when Snape finally kills Wormtail, he yells out, “I am the half blood prince.” Which is completely unrelated to everything.
  • We get lots of scenes of Bellatrix worrying to Lucius about Draco’s behavior. Lucius tells Bellatrix that he doesn’t recognize her authority among the dark wizards because she’s a woman. Poor Bellatrix.
  • Umbridge never got removed from the school, so she’s still there, trying to sexually manipulate everyone.
    • She decides instead of getting Dumbledore fired, she’s instead going to get her revenge by murdering McGonagall.
    • She corners her, and McGonagall empowerdly tells her that she’s okay with the idea of dying, but then Ron pops out and kills Umbridge. We’re all so happy that bitch got hers.
  • The love triangle is resolved when Lavender cheats on Ron with Anthony Goldstein, and Ron calls her a “hateful woman.”
  • Death Eaters still get into Hogwarts through the vanishing cabinet, it’s just that Draco leads them in from the outside. He’s the one to kill Dumbledore to show that he’s Really Evil. Instead of Dumbledore freezing Harry, he freezes Spike, who witnesses everything.
    • When asked about this change, D&D say:
      • Doesn’t it make sense? I mean he’s Draco’s brother. What else is he going to do?


The Dark Lord VI: The Battle for Hogwarts (final movie)

  • We continue to follow Snape’s travels as he tries to undermine Voldemort’s plans.
    • The horcruxes were cut, so instead he recruits Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Spike to join him.
  • In Dumbledore’s absence, the dark wizards take over Hogwarts just like in the books. However, Snape decides that he has to go save the school, so he leaves Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Spike to their own devices.
    • Snape convinces the Carrows that he is on their side, and somehow that works. He is made headmaster. This makes no sense because he was never a double agent. 
  • Ron never leaves his friends. The four of them all go to Godric’s Hollow because Harry thinks Voldemort might be there for no real reason. It’s the same trap with Nagini, but luckily Spike slays her. He ends up dying in the process, but he saved everyone.
    • Everything with Dobby’s funeral is given to Spike instead.
  • Dark wizards capture Harry, Ron, and Hermione and take them to Malfoy Manor.
    • Bellatrix is there, and is suddenly completely on Voldemort’s side and gung-ho about their homophobic crusade. It’s never explained.
    • Draco rapes Hermione in front of Ron to damage his goods. We focus on Ron’s RAGE.
      • When asked why the focus was on Ron and not Hermione, the director said:
      • “It’s not something I really want to talk about, to be honest.”
    • Ron manages to break free of his restraints and kills Draco in a spectacularly bloody fashion.
    • In the chaos, Harry breaks free and revenges Sirius by killing Bellatrix. He tells her Spike is dead as she lies dying on the ground. Poor Bellatrix.
    • Only Lucius survives, and he runs away.
  • In a following scene, Hermione thanks Ron for saving her and the two of them have sex.
  • Word suddenly reaches them that Voldemort is planning a final battle at Hogwarts. They all race back.
  • Just before the dark forces get there, Harry asks Snape why it is that he’s so loyal. The “no flashback” rule is broken for Snape, as we’re shown a pensieve memory with his and Daisy’s relationship. It’s made very obvious that he was just a Good Guy she should have appreciated more.
    • After watching it, Harry asks if Snape still loves Daisy after all this time.
      • “Yeah,” Snape answers.
    • Harry then tells Snape that his mom made the wrong choice, and he wishes that he was his true father.
    • Snape suggests that maybe he is. This is never elaborated on or mentioned again.
  • At least half of the movie is taken up with a BIG EPIC BATTLE in SHAKY CAM. It looks SO COOL.
  • There’s a part where Harry gets knocked out, and he has the King’s Cross scene with Dumbledore. However, because everything thematically significant was cut out, like the Horcruxes, the Hallows, or any of Dumbledore’s past, the scene ends up just being a nonversation where Harry says he’s sorry he couldn’t save Dumbledore, and Dumbledore says that Harry is the best student he’s ever known, and to keep fighting the good fight for gay rights.
  • The death toll is REALLY HIGH in the battle and that’s EXCITING.
    • Percy dies
    • Tonks dies
    • Lucius dies
    • Molly dies
    • McGonagall dies
    • Aberforth rushes in, introduces himself as Dumbledore’s brother, and then dies
  • Snape engages Voldemort in a swordfight, and everyone around them pauses to watch. Voldemort ends up killing him.
  • Harry cries out, and Voldemort declares, “ah yes, the boy who lived! Come to die.” It’s only then that we remember Harry was never referred to as the “chosen one” in the entirety of this movie series.
  • Voldemort challenges Harry to a proper wizard duel, which is the first one we’ve seen since the second film.
    • Harry kills Voldemort with the killing curse, for more punch. The screen fades to black.


When told that their adaption deviated wildly, D&D point out how the “endgame was the same.” JK Rowling says very little on the matter, simply tweeting about something called the “butterfly effect,” and how “the books are the books and the movies are the movies.”

The Dark Lord series is a resounding success. They sweep the Oscars. Critics are dismissed as “snobby book fans.” Another successful adaptation, boys!

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