Photo: ‘The Witcher’
The internet shook over a week ago when news broke that Henry Cavill would not be returning as Geralt of Rivia for the fourth season of Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’. This came as a shock to many for a number of reasons. One is that Cavill is a diehard fan of the source material and said he could see himself playing The White Wolf for as many as seven seasons as long as they can keep honoring the original work. The third season of the show wrapped filming a couple of months ago with Cavill himself still attached and is scheduled to be released by sometime in mid-2023. So why announce Liam Hemsworth taking over the role on the same day as Cavill’s exit? While nothing has been confirmed as of yet, there have been a couple of theories that have been floating around the internet and one, in particular, is especially worthy of discussion.
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Cavill Leaving ‘The Witcher’ After Season 3
Here’s what we do know. Season 3 of ‘The Witcher’ is currently in post-production and is still on track for release sometime next year. After the season, Henry Cavill will officially be passing down the medallion to Liam Hemsworth. That much has all been confirmed, but what we still do not know is why Cavill is leaving. Well, given the timing of this announcement, many speculated that this is mainly due to Cavill returning to his other signature role: Superman. Cavill recently appeared in the DCU (formerly DCEU) film, ‘Black Adam’, in a post-credit scene that was shot only a month before the film’s release. Putting together the fact that Cavill himself got on Instagram to announce his official return as the Man of Steel along with reports that the actor has signed a long-term deal to appear in multiple DCU films, it’s easy to suspect that maybe he needed to clear up his schedule and could not find it feasible to stay attached to two major tentpole franchises.
While it is rare for an actor to stay attached to a starring role in more than one major franchise, it’s not unheard of. Also, it is certainly possible that Cavill was only under contract to appear in three seasons and chose not to renew his deal. But why wouldn’t he, given how big of a fan he is of the books and video games? It could be that there is something else at play.
Anyone who’s seen ‘The Witcher’ can immediately tell that Henry Cavill was born to play Geralt of Rivia. The way he carries himself makes it vividly clear that the actor knows this character and his environment very well. Obviously, Cavill being a massive fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novel series as well as the critically acclaimed video game trilogy has been a huge plus for the show. Many who’ve seen the show echo the same sentiment. However, while Cavill’s portrayal of Geralt is largely praised by fans, the show itself has received some criticism for diverging from the source material. As someone who has yet to read the books or play the games, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both seasons of the show as well as the anime film, ‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf’ and am looking forward to the prequel miniseries, ‘The Witcher: Blood Origin’. Regardless, many who are fans of the original source material have not taken kindly to some of the creative decisions being made. Could Cavill be one of them?
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We’ve heard that Cavill often provides his input and knowledge of the books on set to some of the producers and writers. However, it sounds like the creative forces behind the production have their own ideas and direction for the show, making Cavill less inclined to continue moving on with the show. Writer Beau DeMayo, who worked on ‘The Witcher’, recently recalled that many writers on the show were not only dismissive of Sapkowski’s work, but also “dislike” the books and games, even allegedly outright mocking them. If this is indeed true, it’s pretty dumbfounding why people would work on a show that’s based on source material they dislike. Do creators need to already be fans of source material in order to adapt it? No. But in researching and learning about the content, should there at least be a fundamental understanding as to why those passionate about it would want to see it adapted and done respectfully? One should think so. After all, these are properties that already have a fan base, so in adapting them to another medium, they will be a large part of your audience. Again, there is still no official confirmation as to why Henry Cavill really left the series. For all we know, it may be an entirely different reason that has nothing to do with creative differences or even with scheduling conflicts pertaining to his Superman return. For now, all we can do is speculate.
Should Those Adapting Other Works Remain Faithful To Source Material?
There is a bigger discussion to be had here about adapting the source material. When adapting source material from one medium to another, changes are inevitable. You’re going to have to make some changes in regard to ancillary details. However, once you start to change the core elements of the work to the point where its central identity and uniqueness are layered then that becomes a problem. Again, I say this as someone who has enjoyed Netflix’s adaptation thus far. But we are seeing this drastic alteration of adapted work more frequently than usual. Stories are meant to be told and retold across space and time. But as they pass through the filtration systems of major media conglomerates, they begin to lose the artistic uniqueness and mystique of its original iteration and its creator. It becomes homogenized and watered down, becoming less and less indistinguishable from other types of work in order to make itself marketable, and then becomes milked dry of any content for the sake of making more and more money.
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Then again, there is also another side to this argument. In my case, after having seen the show, I now feel inclined to read Sapkowski’s entire book series and play the widely praised third ‘Witcher’ game, ‘The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt’. This may also be the case for others who have only seen the show as well. Is there an argument to be made that upon witnessing an adaptation, someone will then want to check out the original work? Maybe. Adaptation is a particularly tricky venture, especially when toying with properties with large fanbases.
By Nader Chamas
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.