[Warning: contains spoilers for Season 3 of The Witcher.] Now that Season 3 has come and gone, it has left us with far more questions than answers. Where is Cirila? Can Yennifer rebuild the Brotherhood? Is Geralt of Rivia healed enough to embark on his journey of rescue and vengeance? All important plot lines for the show, certainly. Notwithstanding, a larger, more ominously looming question shrouds all: will The Witcher survive without Henry Cavill?
We learned in October of last year that Season 3 would be Cavill’s last go as the White Wolf. Replacing him is The Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth. By almost all accounts, Henry Cavill is leaving The Witcher due to “creative differences” with showrunner Lauren Hissrich and her writing team. Simply put, Cavill disagreed with the direction of the show and its deviation from the source material of the books. His departure is a shame, given that his portrayal of Geralt is easily, arguably, the best part of the series. So where does his departure leave the Netflix adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s work for Season 4?
The Witcher without Henry Cavill
Liam Hemsworth is a fine actor. But… the question remains of whether or not he’s fine enough to continue in the role of Geralt of Rivia following Cavill’s exceptional performance through three seasons of The Witcher. Remember, this isn’t a different actor playing a different iteration of a beloved character. A key example of that is the succession of actors portraying James Bond. Even then, each actor faced extraordinary scrutiny, perhaps no more so than Daniel Craig. Despite early casting criticisms, he’s now regarded as one of the best, if not the best ever to play 007. The pessimist in me says that Hemsworth will not be held in the same regard when it comes to the character of Geralt. That’s because what’s happening with Geralt of Rivia is something very different than Craig’s assumption of the Bond mantle.
In this case, Netflix has tasked Liam Hemsworth with playing the same, exact character in the same story arc. It’s not an iteration, it’s a continuation. Hemsworth himself admitted at the time the news broke that he’d have “some big boots to fill.” He’s not at all wrong. Taking over The Witcher role that Henry Cavill was practically born to play will be a herculean task. Frankly, the task is not a fair one, either. If showrunners truly alienated to most-perfect actor for the role, asking Hemsworth to step in cold as his replacement is downright criminal.
What’s next for Geralt of Rivia?
I don’t envy the youngest of the acting Hemsworth brothers. The setup for failure is immense. Many fans of The Witcher have already made it clear that if Henry Cavill doesn’t return to the show, neither will they. Even Netflix appears to have already acknowledged the impending fandom exodus, tweeting that “yes, he’s still in Season 3,” referring to Cavill, in an effort to keep the viewership for Season 3:
When the network acknowledges the effect the lead actor’s departure will have on the series, what vote of confidence does that give to his replacement? Or the showrunners, for that matter? Time will tell, I suppose, whether fans will still toss a coin. More than likely, unfortunately ( and to paraphrase from Jaskier), it’s burn, Witcher, burn.
All current seasons of The Witcher are now available on Netflix.