How Is MACUSA Different From the Ministry of Magic in ‘Fantastic Beasts’?

Nick Nunziata

As the Harry Potter universe evolves to incorporate America in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so too do the various intricacies of JK Rowling’s universe. For instance, the film features the  Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), a wizarding government organization that is in sharp contrast to the British Ministry of Magic well known to Harry Potter fans. It creates a wide array of fun possibilities which should bear fruit in the series.

How Is MACUSA Different? Hiding the Magic.

There is definitely a lot going on beneath the surface in how MACUSA operates. The Ministry works with the British government. There's a unity. MACUSA operates in hidden places, shielding the American people from their work. In both subtle and overt ways, Rowling shows how the two countries differ. Subterfuge is a large part of how the MACUSA does business. They erase the memories of any Americans who witness magic. Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) is the President and she runs a tight ship. The No-Mag (Muggle in the UK) are not equipped to handle the knowledge of magic in her estimation and much of the film showcases that divide.

There's something quite American about that. The masses are blissfully unaware of the danger and excitement around them. They go about their routines. Whenever they see something they shouldn't, the Ministry wipes their minds. It's like Men in Black in that regard. In the film, the curtain is peeled back. The sharp divide between regular citizens and wizards extends to their relations. No marriage. No friendship. There is a strict policy regarding wand ownership. It's documented and requires a license. There's an obvious parallel there in regards to America's gun problem.

The punishment for violations of sacred oaths is an acid bath, which creates a culture of fear. Harsh. These moments show how Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them broadens the scope of the Wizarding World brand.

How Is MACUSA Different? Dissension in the Ranks.

Though the MACUSA has a history of dealing with magic dating back to the Salem Witch Trials, it's still evolving. Unlike their counterparts around the globe, there's an uncertainty to them. They are unsteady and fueled by fear. There's disagreement among them. Percival Graves, a powerful Auror, has a strong influence. As the film showcases, things don't go well as a result of the divergence in belief among them. There's an interesting story thread about who these policies protect. Is it the No-Mag populace or is it the wizards themselves?

Seeing this group interact in the film opens up many fun possibilities. Newt Scamander's arrival seems to be a catalyst of sorts for them. The world is changing and where the Ministry of Magic seems in tune with the natural order (with the exception of times when You-Know-Who and his servants intervened) MACUSA is volatile.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them is in theaters now.

Nick Nunziata
Nick Nunziata created CHUD.com.
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