WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Which Cinematic Witch Casts The Most Enchanting Spell?

Alex – Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter Franchise)

When I heard that we would be arguing the best witch ever this week, it took me a grand total of half a breath to instantly call dibs on Hermione. Had someone else insisted on arguing her case, I would’ve instantly quit the Throwdown team, packed my bags, and started writing for some Harry Potter fan blog.

Does that sound overly dramatic? Yes, it probably does. Is it an exaggeration? If you think so, convince one of the other three to test me next time there’s a chance to argue for Hermione. Also, just to give you fair warning, I’m probably going to carry on a bit longer than I usually do with this argument, and things could get a bit weird, but that’s because I’m writing from the heart here (aww).  This argument is partially about Emma Watson as the character, but it is just as much a autobiographical account of Alexander Lowe.

Hermione was the first literary character I fell in love with. I’m not kidding. Head over heels in love. Ask any of my ex-girlfriends, the reason we didn’t work out probably stems from them not measuring up to the standard J.K. Rowling set with the wonderful character she created.

I read The Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets in quick succession in the late ’90s, before any of the films had been made. I honestly didn’t find my love for Hermione until Chamber of Secrets. In the first book she really isn’t set up as a character for everyone to love. She spends most of her time being a whiny, know-it-all. While she does become a bit more likable by the end of the novel, it isn’t until the second book that she really comes into her own. I think what really won me over was her willingness to make the Polyjuice Potion. This was the first real indication that she could indeed be a badass trouble-maker, not just a teacher’s pet. And there is nothing sexier than a smart, trouble-maker. (Yes I realize I just said sexy in reference to a girl who was 12 in the book, I was 10 when I read it. Relax.)

As the book series carried on, Hermione did more and more to quickly become my greatest literary love, but something important happened after I read the second book, the series’ films began their way into production. So we now were going to have a living, breathing person playing a character which previously was just words on a page and the wonders of my imagination. And that scared the crap out of me. A miscast (pun intended) of Hermione would be the ultimate move to cement the Harry Potter films as the worst adaptations of all time, before one was even made. I mean anyone can play a boy who is the only one to survive a killing curse, and anyone can play the greatest wizard of all time and the only one that the Dark Lord fears, but playing Hermione?  Well that’s a task that I simply didn’t think could be done. Especially by an 11-year-old child. This actress was going to have to become the character for the next decade of her life, and try to embody a mere speck of the magic that Rowling wrote. It was surely a hopeless cause.

But then, one of the most fateful casting decisions in cinematic history was made. A little wide-eyed, bushy-haired girl named Emma Watson won the role, and instantly destroyed any image I had created of the character in my mind. In fact, thinking back I can’t even picture what I thought Hermione looked like. All I can remember is Emma Watson in her first year at Hogwarts, perfectly capturing everything there was to love about the character.

Watson actually was able to do the unimaginable. She made the character more incredible on film than she was in the books. Yes, that’s another very bold statement, but I stand by it. The Hermione in the Harry Potter films is better than the one in the book. Not significantly mind you, but better nonetheless.

But this isn’t an argument about whether Watson properly played Hermione (you’d be a fool to say no), it’s about which witch is the best witch ever. The reasons why Hermione is the best are just about endless. I could open the dictionary to any adjective and write 10,000 words about how she embodies that trait better than any other witch, but I’m going to try to concisely run through the reasons why she is the premier spell-caster ever to grace the big screen with her presence.

The first reason that she’s the best witch ever is the fact that she’s as clever as possible. Clever is actually an understatement, she’s absolutely brilliant. She’s top of her class, and anytime anyone needs an answer about anything she’s able to provide it. All her essays are overlong (kind of like this one) and she is spotless with her spell-casting. She also knows where to find answers, constantly dashing to the library for days until she finds the correct passage from some obscure book to support her theory. Not only does she use that brilliance for things like school, but she also manages to use it for little things like defeating the evilest wizard to ever live. She comes up with clever lies to get exactly where she needs to, and uses that ability to always help others. If she wanted to do something malicious, no one would be able to stop her, however she’s always good. She may have cared a bit too much about school at times, (“I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled”), but it paid off as she became the smartest one at Hogwarts. It’s also incredibly impressive that she’s as smart as she is when she didn’t even grow up in the wizarding world.

That’s right, she wasn’t born into a wizarding family. Both her parents are dentists, yet she’s able to become such a brilliant witch. She’s persecuted by magic purists, and she still is able to prevail and succeed in the wizarding world. Her story is one that everyone can relate to on some level, and it makes for just another reason to love the girl. If you kept a dry eye while watching her wipe herself from her parents’ memories in order to protect them, I have to wonder how many times you split your own soul.

She has the best heart of any witch ever. Her and Harry are hiding out in the countryside, starving half to death, in order to save the entire world from enslavement and sure doom. They steal a couple of eggs from a local farm, in order to survive, and Hermione feels so bad that she insists on leaving money for the farmers. They’re working to save that farmer’s life, with not a thanks to be heard, and she wants to leave money? My heart’s so warm just thinking about it that it may well break. That is just one minor example of the goodwill of this girl. She also starts S.P.E.W. because she feels horrible about the treatment of House Elves, a treatment which has gone unquestioned for centuries. She punches Malfoy in the face when he mocks the execution of the Hippogriff. I could go on and on with all the sweet things that this girl does, but I think you get the picture.

On the note of punching Malfoy, she isn’t afraid to get dirty, or physical. She probably shows the least fear in the forbidden forest or in dark situations of anyone. She’s willing to live on the run with Harry and Ron for a whole year, all for the greater good. She shows no hesitancy when it comes to digging into some nasty potions, and she drinks the Polyjuice potion like it’s nothing.

She also stands up for what she believes in. She isn’t afraid to walk out of Divination Class when she realizes it’s an utter load of crap. Like I already mentioned, she stands up for House Elves, and she was willing to punch Malfoy when he was being a git. She’s strong-willed and confident in her believes, an incredibly attractive set of traits.

Another excellent thing about Hermione is she doesn’t fall for the hero. Sure, Ron is a hero in his own right, but she’s able to stay good friends with the titular character and avoid creating another cliche romance. Some may say that the fact she falls for Ron instead of Harry means there’s obviously something wrong with her, but we all need our good friends, and the friendship between Harry and Hermione is wonderful, as is her romance with Ron. Teenage love at its finest.

Her beauty is unrivaled in the ranks of witches. I know there have been some gorgeous witches, and Mila Kunis certainly is up there on the list, but Emma Watson’s Hermoine is in a league of her own. It was first apparent at the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire, but by the seventh film she was stunningly beautiful even when covered in mud and grime from months without a proper bath.

I could go on for pages and pages, but I think I’ve made my case quite clear. Hermoine is the best witch ever, and there’s no sense in arguing it.