Henry Cavill leaves The Witcher – A Debate on Faithful Adaptations

Home » Film & TV » Henry Cavill leaves The Witcher – A Debate on Faithful Adaptations

by | Nov 12, 2022 | Film & TV

Has Henry Cavill has left the role of Geralt in Netflix's The Witcher due to the writers deviation from the source material? If so it wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened...

If someone had told me that Hollywood’s biggest nerd Henry Cavill would leave his most iconic role (debatably) as Geralt on Netflix’s The Witcher, I would have probably laughed in their face. Except, this is exactly what’s happening, and nobody is laughing. Especially the raging army of fanboys that rally behind the idea that Cavill was pushed out of the fold due to creative differences rather than his return to the role of Superman at DC Comics.

While it may be some time before the truth behind the controversial departure comes to light, the issue does bring to light the conflict between the filmmaker’s vision and those wishing to stay true to the source material. Henry Cavill is not the only one to voice concerns over a series/film’s divergence from its original works, which is truly the right path to take when crafting these stories?

GOOD VS BAD ADAPTATION – MIDDLE EARTH

While adapting any book or written story would be extremely difficult regardless of how much money and special effects were put into it, some have done it better than others. A prime example would be Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. While minor changes were made here and there with certain scenes from the book not translated to film, it otherwise stays very faithful to the original story Tolkien told. The way the characters are portrayed, the costume and set design all were carefully and meticulously crafted to form the critically acclaimed set of movies we all know and love. The accuracy to Tolkien’s mythology was what made these films adored by fans and is why a certain other series struggled to win them over.

Henry Cavill

Amazon’s The Rings of Power has suffered much criticism since the first trailer was released. It cannot be denied that the series did its best to make the world look and feel like Middle Earth with some of its constructed settings like Moria and Lindon looking beautiful. However where the show failed was its disregard for much of Tolkien’s lore which often worked against the story it was trying to tell. A Tolkien scholar even left production of the show mid way through due to disagreements over the direction The Rings of Power was taking. These alterations to the story unfortunately didn’t pay off and caused a lot of tension with fans. It is possible Henry Cavill is in the same boat as the Tolkien scholar and no longer wishes to contribute to a story which they feel won’t be faithful to the authors original story.

ADAPTATIONS DONE RIGHT VS ADAPTATIONS DONE BETTER

While it’s true The Rings of Power failed to win over fans that is not the case for some other shows that diverted from the source material. Two prime examples would be Amazon’s The Boys and AMC’s The Walking Dead (Both are adapted from a series of graphic novels/comic books). The Boys is the most recent of said shows and has gained a large following thanks to its violent and corrupt depiction of superheroes that subverts the genre in a unique and interesting way.

Henry Cavill

THE BOYS

The original graphic novel series however has a number of major differences that clearly sets it apart from its on screen counter part. Many of these changes have been praised by both fans of the show and the graphic novels, as the shows writers understood that some character choices and events in the book would come across very differently in the show. The general message and moral debates of the book and the portrayal of its characters are largely accurate but it shows they are not necessarily required as long as the story still makes sense to the viewer, potentially being a better story than the one originally told on paper.

THE WALKING DEAD

The Walking Dead is much the same even though it has lost much of its popularity the last few seasons, however the first 5/6 seasons of the show were jaw droppingly good. The Walking Dead is known for changing the fates of many of the books original characters, with some living on past their expected deaths and some fan favourite characters not even existing in the book in the first place (Yes Daryl Dixon we’re talking about you). Robert Kirkman the creator of the original series has worked alongside the showrunners since the very beginning, meaning any and all changes have gone through his say so and the fans have mostly enjoyed the show. His involvement is paramount to its success, which leads to our next point…

THE END OF GAME OF THRONES VS THE BEGINNING OF HOUSE OF THE DRAGON

HBO’S Game of Thrones had the potential to be the greatest television series of all time, with well written characters, a faithful story and many many instances of foreshadowing it looked as though the show was to end in greatness and glory. Yet it was not to be. George R.R Martin the writer of the original books was heavily involved with the production of the first 4/5 seasons of the show yet he appeared to be pushed out the loop once the writers decided the show would end after it’s eighth season. Martin envisioned the show to potentially run for 10 or more seasons before wrapping up but it appeared the show runners were in a rush to finish and move onto other projects that had come their way thanks to their success in the early seasons.

Without Martin to guide them and keep them telling the story envisioned by the creator, they appeared to lose their way and not know what to do with the number of foreshadowing seeds they had planted and loose ends they needed to tie up. To give them some credit the writers had actually caught up to the current source material so they had essentially reached the end of their road, yet it is still strange to wonder why they no longer consulted with the author of the books to pave the way for a more fitting and faithful end to the show. When the writers seem to know better, those like Martin and Henry Cavill are often pushed aside.

Henry Cavill

RISE OF THE DRAGON

Since leaving Game of Thrones George R.R Martin had been developing the recently wrapped up first season of House of the Dragon which has had a dramatically greater reception than The Rings of Power. With stories and characters that are taken straight from the pages of Martin’s works, it’s no wonder the fans have rallied behind this series. The mind of the author is the mind most familiar with the story this show is trying to tell, they have used said mind as an invaluable tool to turn what was a simple prequel seriesinto its own self-fulfilling story.

Henry Cavill

THE FUTURE OF A WITCHER SHOW WITHOUT HENRY CAVILL

Adaptations are just that, adaptations, they are not bound to tell the story word for word and be a copy and paste clone of an original work. If they were fewer people would be interested because of course if this was the case, why bother adapting it at all? However if recent history has shown us anything, it’s that the original successful works of an author are not something to be ignored. The story the show is trying to tell should be the same story the source material originally told. Small sacrifices and changes here and there are acceptable and expected for shows told on such a grand scale with such a vast audience, yet if the source material is not respected then half of your target audience are already cut from interest.

While Henry Cavill may not be the original author for The Witcher, he has certainly shown his passion for the authors books and proven time and time again he knows the world and its lore inside out. Has the series been as good as it has been so far due to his push for authenticity? Or has it simply gotten in the way of a showrunners own vision for the show. Season 3 is yet to have an airing date however it is in this season and the one that follows it that will show where the writer’s of the shows true intentions lie. Will The Witcher thrive without its leading man at the helm (being replaced by Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth) or will it fall to poor adaptation like one of the many shows mentioned above? Only time will tell.

Written by George Cooper

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