Henry Cavill is going from Superman to The Witcher, landing the title role in Netflix’s new series. And even if the roles couldn’t be farther apart, Geralt of Rivia may be an even better fit for Cavill than Clark Kent.
On paper, Cavill being cast as Netflix’s Witcher is any video game fan’s dream: the star of a billion dollar superhero franchise, with outspoken affection for The Witcher series and stories. Who better to bring the character and property to life, doing justice for the fans while bringing in more of them? But soon after the news of casting broke, the backlash followed it, with some complaining that Cavill is wrong for the role of Geralt.
To see why Henry Cavill could be perfect for The Witcher, and why his time in the Superman suit may have little to do with this new role, people will need to look beyond his DC track record. It’s also important to be honest about how much the part of Geralt demands. Whether you think Henry Cavill is the perfect Superman or the total opposite… both may prove he’s actually the right choice.
If that showrunner claiming that Henry Cavill “IS Geralt. He always has been” isn’t enough to convince the naysayers that Cavill as a fit for Geralt, then his non-Superman roles just might.
The most recent film to show Cavill’s chops outside of a Supersuit is Mission Impossible: Fallout, which solidified the star power Cavill has to work with. It’s tempting to look at Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavill – relative unknowns to American audiences when cast as Superman – and assume that it’s the size and reputation of the role that makes their lasting mark. But then, neither of those actors went from their breakout role to starring opposite Tom Cruise in his biggest action franchise without seeming the slightest bit out of place. What’s more, playing that role as a physically strong tactician, but not invincible. Confident in his abilities, but never crossing a line into ‘action movie’ bravado or macho fantasy. All jobs easier said than done – just ask Tom Cruise.
Then there’s Cavill’s performance as Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which may be his most underrated role. As a different breed of secret agent, the part requires Cavill to present as powerful, intelligent, sly, charming, and witty. In other words, lead the mission as the capable ‘straight man,’ as more colorful or eccentric characters flesh out the world around him – all while remaining anchored squarely in it, never winking to the audience or shifting to the role of outsider.
These are all hard-to-find qualities in modern action stars, but all more or less required in bringing the character of Geralt to life convincingly. And as difficult as it may be to separate Cavill from Superman, doing so shows that the link may actually do the actor a disservice. But comparing these other roles to his divisive turn as Kal-El from Krypton also proves helpful.
After all, the main reason why so many comic ‘fans’ declared Henry Cavill a subpar Superman is the same one that proves he could be perfect for Geralt of Rivia.