As it builds the wizarding world, the Fantastic Beasts franchise has relied heavily on the fan momentum of the Harry Potter series. That's why the latest installation, The Crimes of Grindelwald, tickled Potterheads with references to Nicolas Flamel, Professor McGonagall (perhaps anachronistically), and even Lord Voldemort's snake Nagini. Still, the franchise has somewhat glazed over one of the key objects in the Harry Potter universe that's actually pretty important during Grindelwald's rise to power: the elder wand. Where the heck does the elder wand come from at the beginning of The Crimes of Grindelwald after being MIA during the first movie?
As Harry Potter lore has it, a young and power-hungry Grindelwald steals the elder wand from wandmaker Mykew Gregorovitch shortly before stunning him. Grindelwald is in his mid-40s when the Fantastic Beasts franchise begins, so we can assume he's had it for a while, but we don't see it immediately in the prequel series. The elder wand makes no appearance in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Grindelwald, who Transfigures into Percival Graves during the first film, uses the auror's wand throughout the movie.
At the start of The Crimes of Grindelwald, though, the undeniable berry-carved wand is in Grindelwald's hand when he busts out of an American prison by transfiguring (seriously, the aurors need to pay more attention) into the MACUSA employee Abernathy, who's actually one of his followers. Even though we do see the legendary wand, no one talks about it, so its appearance feels like trivial fan service. What happened to the wand during those six months the dark wizard was in the American prison? We can only assume that if officials did confiscate Grindelwald's powerful wand, it was kept under Abernathy's watchful eye. But Grindelwald is clever and wily, so we wouldn't be surprised if he hid it and had his most trusted followers look over it and bring it to him during the jailbreak.
Is this absence of explanation an oversight, or is there a bigger reveal in the making that's taking a little while to unfold? Maybe it's a bit of both. Remember, the physical elder wand differs from its loyalty. According to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, if you defeat the person who owns the wand, regardless of if they were using it during the battle, you now have its allegiance. In the first prequel movie, Newt Scamander distracts and binds Grindelwald while the dark wizard pretends to be Graves. Auror Tina Goldstein then uses the summoning charm to get possession of Graves's wand. This has led to speculation that either Newt or Tina is now the temporary master of the elder wand. Given that the powerful wand is so crucial in the Harry Potter series, it'd be remiss of the Fantastic Beasts franchise to continue putting its status on the back burner. We need explanations, J.K. Rowling!