Despite calls for Warner Bros. to bring back Johnny Depp's Grindelwald for , the actor shouldn't ever return to the franchise. Compared to the colossal success of the franchise, the spin-off prequels have been somewhat disappointing. Set decades before the events of , follows magizoologist Newt Scamander and a much younger Albus Dumbledore as they contend with the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
As well as being less successful than its predecessor, the has had a particularly turbulent run of movies. In the space of a single trilogy of films, has seen three separate actors play its antagonist, with only one of the changes acknowledged in the movies themselves. Initially, the role was played by Colin Farrell, who was revealed at the end of as Grindelwald in disguise, setting up Johnny Depp as the undisguised Grindelwald. Depp played the role in the second installment, , but was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for the third entry into the franchise, .
Though with the most diplomatic answer imaginable, the idea of the actor returning is a bad one. As his dismissal from the franchise resulted from his then-ongoing legal troubles with his ex-wife Amber Heard, the culmination of his defamation trial (which was ruled in his favor) has prompted speculation that he may be brought back for . Yet there are several reasons that Depp's return isn't what's best for the franchise, even though he's now seemingly free to do so.
As Depp's defamation trial was ruled in his favor, many believe that Warner Bros. should welcome the actor back as a result of what is considered by some to have been a wrongful dismissal. However, the reason Grindelwald's role was recast is far more complicated than simply attributing it to Depp's legal battle with Amber Heard. In fact, Depp's well-documented personal struggles predate his role in the franchise by many years, and Warner Bros. acted in line with what appeared to be public sentiment at the time.
Though this has since been clarified as a much more complex issue, the reasons that Warner Bros. initially recast the role were sound. Depp wasn't fired but instead asked to step down due to negative publicity, and he obliged - a key distinction because it makes the recasting much more amicable than many consider it to have been. to avoid the negative publicity of his then-ongoing legal troubles is much more morally sound than firing the actor without any evidence of wrongdoing, and given that the legal battle didn't conclude until after 's release, it was ultimately the right choice.
The question over whether Depp should return for fails to take one important element of his defamation trial into account. Though the case was ruled in Depp's favor, the actor remains a controversial figure. It's important to note that the case wasn't intended to directly clear Depp of any wrongdoing but simply to determine whether he had been defamed with false allegations. This allows the debate over Depp's personal life and character to continue, meaning that he's still a potentially risky casting, as his return could spark backlash.
What's more, Depp's return would potentially be a for another reason entirely. Recasting the role of Grindelwald was seen at the time to be something of a condemnation of Depp amid his legal battle, and though his troubles are seemingly over, backtracking on the earlier decision isn't a good look for the studio. Bringing Depp back would open Warner Bros. up to even greater criticisms: those who support the idea could claim that the studio is capitalizing on Depp's victory after previously abandoning him, while those against his return would still potentially cite the allegations leveled against him. Ultimately, bringing Depp back would be far too controversial on all fronts, and that would only harm .
Another reason that Depp's return shouldn't happen is that . Where Depp's version of the villain was overly cartoonish and outlandishly evil, Mikkelsen's was more nuanced and subtle. Mikkelsen's performance lent an added depth to the character that made him a far more intriguing antagonist because he filled the role much more convincingly. Mikkelsen's Grindelwald was dark and charismatic, and it was far more plausible for him to amass a loyal following in the Wizarding World (as opposed to Depp's more blatantly evil villain).
As Mads Mikkelsen's Grindelwald is the superior iteration, it's clear which should return. seemed to explore the full depth of Depp's version of the character, whereas barely scratched the surface of Mikkelsen's, making far more sense for the latter to return for a sequel. made a far more convincing and compelling character, and pushing him out in favor of Depp's return would insult the actor's excellent performance in .
It's not entirely clear whether Warner Bros. is considering Depp's return for , and it's unlikely that the notion would be seriously entertained. As his replacement proved to be such a good fit for the role, it's unlikely that will bring Johnny Depp back, particularly as it would be an incredibly controversial choice. However, as was a considerable disappointment, the real question becomes whether or not there will even be a at all.
With significant issues plaguing the franchise, . The poor reception of the movies may well mean that is abandoned entirely, and therefore whether Depp will return could prove to be a moot point. This makes Johnny Depp's return for incredibly unlikely, mostly because it would simply be far better if Mikkelsen remained in the role.