The first trailer for Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher is here, and y’all? Geralt’s body is too much for me to process, and not in a good way. I’ve watched this trailer like four times now, and every time it gets to the brief clip of Henry Cavill’s shirtless, hulking enormity, my whole brain just shuts down. Like gazing upon the four-dimensional shadow of an ancient eldrich god, my mind simply cannot handle the geometry of what it is seeing. And so, to protect my fragile psyche, it sees nothing at all. Cavill’s only line is spoken during this shot, and I could not begin to tell you what he said.
There’s plenty of action shots of a clothed Geralt, Power Rangers morphin’ coin medallion and all, and those shoot right into the ol’ dome without issue. Cavill is still way too traditionally handsome for this role, I think — every time his perfect cleft chin and immaculate cheekbones enter frame my brain immediately shouts “I DON’T BUY THIS!!” — but it all seems fine. And maybe that’s the biggest warning sign that this trailer delivers. Nothing about it seems demonstrably awful (though an argument could be made about the CGI spider at the end), but it doesn’t seem all that interesting either.
It’s a very desaturated dark fantasy vibe with beautiful women throughout and handsome men portraying characters of power, just like every other one of these shows. There’s talk of the elven genocide at the hands of men; how magic is the means through which chaos is made into order; how you can’t outrun destiny — all faithful beats from the original novels, yes, but drenched in the kind of focus-tested preciseness that makes it all seem so rote. You could tell me that this was a trailer for Game of Thrones or Vikings or Outlander and I would buy it. You could even tell me that this was Lord of the Rings, and Cavill’s Geralt would somehow make more sense. The only shot that got me truly excited was our brief glimpse of Roach, Geralt’s faithful steed, and that was just half a second of horse butt.
To their credit, Anya Chalotra’s Yennifer and Freya Allan’s Ciri both look way more natural in this world than Cavill does. The trailer gives us quick little tastes of Yennifer’s transformation into a sorceress, and of Ciri’s hidden powers bursting from her subconscious in true, Gohan-like fashion. Allan seems emotive and looks to have the weepy terror of a frightened waif down pat, but there isn’t enough of Yennifer interacting with others to get a sense for how Chlotra’s portrayal might shake out.
I hope I’m wrong about all this, and that the show ends up being a complete triumph. I hope it’s nominated for a record number of Emmys and becomes a beloved fixture of fantasy television. I hope they put Cavill spreadeagle in wooden tub and make the worst parts of the internet just as uncomfortable as when it happened the first time. But y’all? None of my Witcher senses are tingling.