Within in the Wizarding World, there is no more infamous a Dark Wizard than the one and only Lord Voldemort. He is the heir to the legendary Salazar Slytherin. Master of the Death Eaters, wielder of the Elder Wand but most importantly the most villainous man with no-nose to appear in cinema! His very name itself is a curse, that strikes fear and misfortune to all those who utter it. Truly none could ever challenge the serpentine sorcerer…that is until now. Believe or not, there was another megalomaniacal wizard supremacist that had a pension for terrorism and warfare and who also wielded the awesome power of the Elder Wand. Who not unlike Voldemort, sought to become the master of death itself! His name is Gellert Grindelwald, a radical revolutionary who stole Dumbledore’s heart and terrorized wizarding society, across Europe and the United States. The man who sought to break the international statute of secrecy and finally reveal wizardkind to the world of muggles. And the villain of the highly anticipated, upcoming sequel in the Wizarding World franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Honestly, I’ve been waiting to do this one for a long time. Upon the field of battle like all those years ago with Aberforth and Dumbledore, these two Dark Wizards will settle for good and all who is the superior spellcaster and the true master of death. Now before this battle begins, it should be clarified that we will not be taking account Voldemort’s Horcruxes or either of them using the Elder Wand. No MacGuffins, plot armours or deus ex machinas here. Just the bare stats, facts and history of these sinister spellcasters. So grab your Harry Potter collection and a good mug of Butter Beer because we’re pitting Lord Voldemort against Gellert Grindelwald!
We’ll start with the better-known history of Lord Voldemort. Before he adopted this fearsome name, he went by Tom Marvolo Riddle. Tom was conceived from a marriage between his wizard mother Merope Gaunt and a highborn Muggle, Tom Riddle Senior (Sr.). Merope had fallen in love with a young handsome Tom Riddle Sr. while she lived with her abusive family in the town of Little Hangleton, not far from Riddle. When her father and brother were taken away to Azkaban for committing a crime, she was finally free to be with her love. Knowing Tom would never take to her due to her plain looks and humble beginnings, she tricked him into consuming a Love Potion. Soon they were married and she was pregnant with child. In time Merope had ceased using the potion, hoping that Tom would have truly fallen in love with her or at least stay for the child. She was wrong. Heartbroken and defeated, she lost the will to live or to take care of the young Tom Marvolo Riddle. After dropping her baby off at the local orphanage, she died not long after.
Much of Voldemort’s future would be determined by his past. He grew up hating and despising his Muggle roots, going so far as to murder the rest of the Riddle clan out of shame and anger. Knowing no love from his mother and father, he had none to give. Nonetheless, he was a gifted wizard who became obsessed over bloodlines and heritage during his school days. Many teachers considered him the ideal student. Little did they know, he was determined to become the greatest Dark Wizard the world had ever seen, covering up his true origins and often claiming his maternal history as being the true heir of Salazar Slytherin. He eventually dropped the name of Tom Marvolo Riddle rechristened himself, Lord Voldemort.
As for Gellert Grindelwald, not much is known of his family history but his infamy in the wizarding world begins in the wizarding school of Durmstrang Institute. A school that was renowned for practising the Dark Arts. Gellert Grindelwald, like Voldemort, was also a wizard prodigy who displayed a great affinity for the darker practices of magic. He was particularly obsessed with the story of the Deathly Hallow, so much so that he would adopt its symbol in the future wars he waged. After a number of deadly experiments into the Dark Arts, that even took some of the lives of his classmates, Grindelwald found himself expelled from Durmstrang. He embarked on his quest to acquire the items of the Deathly Hallows: the Cloak of Invisibility, Elder Wand and Resurrection Stone. Rumour has it that whoever wields all three magical artifacts would become the master of death. Along the way, he had found a close friend and ally in one Albus Dumbledore. Throughout the years, the two would correspond with each other, discussing the rightful place of wizards over Muggles. At some point, he convinced Dumbledore that it was for the greater good! Albus had even fallen in love with him.
That all changed, however, when Grindelwald sought to use Albus’ sister, Arianna as a living weapon. Albus and his brother Aberforth would not have it. The three wizards engaged in a deadly duel that accidentally took the life of Arianna. Grindelwald fled the scene and continued on his quest for the Elder Wand. After finding the legendary weapon, Grindelwald would spend the greater part of his life raising an army of magic users to finally topple the old ways of wizard society. No longer did he wish to remain the shadows for the sake of the Muggles’ safety. He would take lives, capture political prisoners and infiltrate the highest offices of magical governments. All to see wizardkind ascend as rulers of the world, all for the “greater good”.
Masters Of Manipulation
It’s no secret that Voldemort and Grindelwald are insanely powerful polymaths in their own right. That being said, a battle isn’t always swayed by the physical prowess. Sometimes, it is the battle of the mind and will that could be a determining factor. Voldemort and Grindelwald without a shadow of a doubt are master manipulators. Both were able to raise armies of followers through rhetoric and charisma. They’re are also exceptionally driven individuals, where they differ though is in methods and philosophies. Voldemort is motivated through selfish desires, therefore self-preservation is constantly at the forefront of his mind. Evidence being the fact that he quite literally made seven life insurance safety nets. He often avoids direct confrontation with his enemies, especially those who he considers genuine threats. He prefers employing the aid of his Death Eaters and various other agents to execute his will. He only reveals himself when he’s absolutely sure he has the upper hand. This is seen in Order of the Phoenix, when he tries to attack Harry when he’s alone and at his most vulnerable. In The Deathly Hallows Part 2, we see him boldly declare open war on Hogwarts after Dumbledore’s death. I’m sure he thought a school full of kids wouldn’t be much of a match and really, and to be fair that is sound logic.
Grindelwald, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach. He isn’t shy about getting others to do his bidding, as seen in Fantastic Beasts when he recruits Credence, a latent wizard with great repressed power to join his side. At the same time, he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. The man is a revolutionary who leads by example. In the aforementioned film, he disguises himself as a high ranking official of the Magical Congress of the United States (MACUSA), manipulating Aurors and the US government to do his bidding. Let me put this way: the most wanted magical terrorist at the time walked into a room full of law enforcement agents and Aurors for the longest time without being detected. That is mad nuts and ballsy! Pretty reckless as well, mind you. Also, Grindelwald isn’t as ruthless as Voldemort. He clearly does operate from some sort of twisted moral compass and may actually believe that he’s doing the right thing. I can definitely see Grindelwald appealing to Voldemort to join his cause as a fellow wizard. Voldemort, on the other hand, would kill him right on the spot. He would never allow another wizard he saw as a potential threat to join him. Furthermore, Grindelwald near the end of his life shows remorse for the crimes he’s committed in the past. Voldemort did not. Voldemort’s will to live could trump Grindelwald’s heart for revolution.
Duelling with Dumbledore
In the wizarding world, the art of duelling is a primary way for wizards or witches to display their raw power. It is a dance of spellcraft knowledge, form and above all else, creativity. One wrong move or mispronounced cast and it could spell curtains for one of the duellers. Now we could spend all day going tit-for-tat on how Grindelwald’s multiple magical masteries could counter Voldemort’s offensive curses, and vice versa. I mean both are capable of using wandless and non-verbal spells, raise people from dead as zombie-like Inferis and have shown capable of facing multiple opponents at the same time. Most importantly, both Voldemort and Grindelwald were able to control the immense power of the Elder Wand. Interestingly, the one thing the both of them have in common is their defeat at the hand of Dumbledore. Dumbledore is one of the most powerful wizards in the world and has the honour of being an Elder Wand wielder. Since he defeated both Voldemort and Grindelwald, he will set the benchmark for the two.
Throughout the films and books, Voldemort has displayed a distinct fear for Dumbledore, seeing him as both an authority figure and genuine threat. In Order of the Phoenix, we got a chance to see a proper (and very cool) duel between the two of them. With each of them countering one another with fire, water, wind and glass! But alas, Voldemort gave up halfway and instead opted to attack Harry through Legilimency, basically mind invasion. While yes, he did “kill” Dumbledore but this was only because Dumbledore allowed it to happen. He didn’t even have the guts to show up to do the deed himself, using his double agent Severus Snape! As for Grindelwald, the battles between him and Dumbledore became the stuff of legends. Though we don’t have much info by way of film or book with regards to the matter of the duel. I’ll let Dumbledore’s words settle this. In the last entry of the Harry Potter book series, The Deathly Hallows, on the 35th chapter Harry talks to a dead Dumbledore in a dream version of King’s Cross Station. During their discussion, the subject of Grindelwald is brought up with Dumbledore admitting “I knew that we were evenly matched, perhaps that I was a shade more skilful.” A SHADE! Dumbledore in his prime was but a shade stronger than Grindelwald. I sure as hell hope we get a chance to see this legendary duel on screen. The champion himself knew who was the finer wizarding warrior was.
In a strictly isolated duel setting with no Horcruxes or Deathly Hallow artefacts, Gellert Grindelwald would most likely destroy Voldemort. He has proven to be every bit the Dark Lord’s equal and more. Grindelwald has shown to be more reckless than the heir of Slytherin and this could leave Voldemort some wriggle room to work with. Ultimately, however, I still believe Grindelwald would prevail. Voldemort is a silent dagger. He works best in the shadows with his plots and schemes. Gellert is a hammer and a fighter, smashing any opposition in his path in the name of the greater good. Sorry Voldy but Grindelwald in his prime comes up on top. So what do you guys think? Do you agree that Grindelwald could take Voldemort to wizarding school? Or do you think Voldemort is the more deadly Dark Wizard? Be sure to let us know in the comments and tell us who you want to see next in our cinematic versus arena.
Hey you! Yes you, hot stuff. Like my article? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to share it with your buds. And if you’d like to talk movies you can hit me up here: @cinesam