Reasons Jacob Kowalski is Amazing
WARNING Contains Fantastic Beasts Spoilers!!!
Ok, so am I the only person who thinks Newt is utterly adorable, BUT actually likes Jacob Kowalski better in pretty much every way?
1) Jacob is the first really positive Muggle/No-Maj character we’ve had in the Potterverse, and I didn’t even realize that was missing, much less how desperately I needed it, until I saw Fantastic Beasts. I mean:
-Vernon and Petunia Dursley are portrayed as boring, stupid, unattractive, bigoted, and abusive.
-Dudley is better than his parents by the end of the series, but his scenes at the beginning (where he’s a nasty, ignorant bully) are pretty frequent, and once he starts growing as a person, he’s less integral to the plot, so we don’t see much of him acting decent.
-Piers (Dudley’s friend) is described as looking scrawny and rodent-like, and from what we see of his personality, he’s selfish, cruel, and cowardly.
-Tom Riddle Sr. abandoned his wife and unborn child when he discovered his wife was a witch.
-Hermione’s parents seem nice enough, but are barely featured at all.
-Filch, while not a Muggle, is a Squib, so he also doesn’t have magic. He is described as ugly, vindictive, and cruel.
-Mrs. Figg, also a Squib, is definitely a well-meaning person, but she’s portrayed as a little loopy, the stereotypical “crazy cat lady.”
Meanwhile, Jacob is a central character who is sympathetic, kind, multi-faceted, funny, interesting, creative, has unique hopes and dreams, and his—not Newt’s—is the big romantic relationship in the film.
I was talking to someone about this—how the Potterverse was practically starved for positive Muggle characters before Fantastic Beasts—and they pointed out how most of the audience is (presumably) made up of Muggles, so having a non-magical character we can relate to is pretty important. I started thinking about that, and I realized it’s kinda true. A lot of Potterheads consider ourselves witches and wizards, and by default any non-fan—especially one who is dense or disrespectful—is a “Muggle.” I thought about how devastated I was when I didn’t get my Hogwarts letter at age 11, and now I wonder how much less upset I would have been if we’d had a Jacob Kowalski in the series from the get-go.
2) The way he reacts to magic. Ok, so he freaks out at first, but who wouldn’t? I love how quickly he accepts magic, and how he reacts to all magic he sees after that… like, he just sort of goes, “Oh, that’s a thing? Oh hey, that’s just great!” Like, magic obviously makes him really, really happy, but he doesn’t spend a lot of time goggling over stuff like Harry did at first. He just lets it all roll over him. He never takes it for granted, like the Weasleys or other people who grew up surrounded by it, but after the initial shock, he just accepts that all this wonderful stuff exists and immediately takes advantage of all the little practical ways it can improve his life (self-stirring cocoa, magic strudel, et cetera). He’s so open to trying everything new. No hesitation. Even with stuff that seems scary like some of Newt’s creatures, he’s just like, “Oh, this huge tentacled creature out of a Lovecraftian nightmare wants me to pet it, sure, I guess that’s cool.” I just adore how accepting and open he is about this whole world of crazy stuff he never knew existed.
3) He’s ridiculously handsome, honestly. As a bigger person myself, I love love love seeing physically attractive heavyset characters. Like, I wouldn’t kick Newt out of bed either (what sane person would?), but my Fantastic Beasts crush is definitely Kowalski. He’s dapper as fuck, with the hair and the mustache and the suit; his smile is like sunlight, and his eyes are so friggin’ gorgeous I can’t even start. He’s simultaneously adorable and sexy, and like, seeing a character like that makes me so much more confident about my own body.
4) The relationship between Jacob and Queenie. Not only is it super adorable, but please note how unusual it is for mainstream films. In most big Hollywood movies, it would go like this: “Tina and Queenie both crush on Newt (who is the leading man, the “hero” type, and the more generically “attractive” male) and get into a sort of contest about who can impress him more. Jacob likes Queenie right away, but stays out of her way because he wants her to be happy and figures he doesn’t deserve her. Near the end, Queenie finally accepts that Tina and Newt belong together, and then realizes that Jacob has been there for her the whole time,” yada yada. But no. Queenie sees Jacob and there’s this instant spark. You can see her eyes light up a bit the minute they meet. There’s never a moment where she’s like, “You’re a really sweet guy, but…” It’s not necessarily “love at first sight,” but there’s definitely “strong mutual attraction and some serious sexual chemistry at first sight.”
5) The bromance with Newt is almost as adorable as the flirtation with Queenie. It’s so wonderful to see two male characters deeply care for one another, and even show unashamed physical affection, without them being portrayed as gay.* Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with gay characters (obviously) and generally I’m all for more queer representation in film, but it bothers me that apparently “straight men can’t have strong emotional bonds.” It has a lot to do with toxic masculinity: men can’t show affection towards one another unless they’re gay (i.e. unless they’re “girly”), because having emotions is a “female thing.”
*I know that Kowalski x Newt is a semi-popular ship, but I don’t think there’s a lot of canonical evidence for it, and given that we know Newt eventually marries Tina, and Jacob and Queenie have mad chemistry going on, it feels pretty OOC to me.
6) His dreams of opening a bakery. I can deeply relate to having a dream career that seems unachievable for financial reasons, but you still strive for it, because there’s nothing you love doing half as much, and it feels like you’re just meant to do it. And I love how this guy who seems really generically masculine at first glance has a passion for something as “feminine” as baking. Plus, though I’d never really considered baking as an art form before, it obviously is to him. He clearly doesn’t think of himself as a creative type—“I ain’t got the brains to make this up”—but he couldn’t be more wrong. What he does with all the fantastic creatures made of pastry at the end proves it. Yeah, he didn’t make up Nifflers and Bowtruckles and such, but having a vision of something in your head isn’t the same as bringing it to life, in 3D, in such a unique (and temporary!) medium. Newt may have shown him the creatures he modeled them off, but the whimsical charm each little pastry has is all Jacob’s own.
Also, I adore why he wants to be a baker—he wants to make people happy, in whatever small way he can, and that’s beautiful. I can’t imagine a more perfect reason to follow a dream than to bring charm and joy to a grey world.
7) Pretty much everything else about him, period, because this man is overall incredible and perfect.