Last week, we got our first look at the trailer for The Witcher, Netflix's first big swing at an epic fantasy series akin to the Lord of the Rings reboot on Amazon and the lingering legacy (and upcoming spinoffs) of Game of Thrones on HBO. One way we know the series is a big deal is that they cast Superman himself, Henry Cavill, in the lead role. The titular role, if we might get all Beanie Feldstein about it. Yes, Henry Cavill IS The Witcher.
But what exactly is a Witcher, why are Henry Cavill's eyes orange, and why are all these townspeople throwing rocks at his gorgeous face? If, like us. you walked away from the trailer with more questions than answers, allow us to share what we've since learned.
The Witcher is a TV series adapted from the series of Polish fantasy novels by author Andrzej Sapkowski, which have also been adapted into series of popular video games. The book series consists of five main novels, two prequel short-story collections, and another standalone novel. The English translations of the novels were published beginning in 2007, and ten years later, it was announced that Netflix was planning a TV series adaptation to star Henry Cavill, who'd starred as Superman in Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League, and was set to shake out his arm-cannons alongside Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
The trailer is kind enough to explain it for us: Witchers are mutants, created by magic for the purpose of hunting monsters for a price. In appearance, if Cavill's character, Geralt of Riva, is any indication, they have the silken blond hair of the elves from The Lord of the Rings and the glowing colored eyes of, say, the Teen Wolf TV series. For real, the eyes HAVE to mean something, since the trailer offers so many ocular close-ups:
The hair is the most striking, though. Picture a bulked up Orlando Bloom from The Lord of the Rings and you've got it. The way they're spoken about makes them seem like myths or fairy-tale creatures. It's said that Witchers cannot feel human emotions. They're whispered about, yes, but they're also feared. They are creatures unlike the humans, whom they supposedly keep safe from the monsters they hunt. We see at least one instance of Geralt getting stones thrown at his head.
The realm where this story takes place is called The Continent. The land was settled by elves thousands of years ago, who found dwarves and gnomes living there. The elves battled the dwarves back into their mountain hideaways, and the elves held sway until humans arrived about a hundred years ago and did what humans do: colonized the whole Continent, leaving elves and all other non-human creatures to live as second-class citizens.
At some point, vampires and werewolves were introduced to this world, via an event called the Conjunction of the spheres.
The events of The Witcher take place in the Northern Kingdoms, which is ruled over by a fractious series of monarchs. The region to the south, the Nilfgaard, has emerged as dominant.
Right? If the platinum-haired, sexy-but-fighty elfin-looking thing didn't give it away, the conflicts with newly arrived humans and/or the dwarves residing in the mountains should have; clearly this series borrows a lot of world-building from The Lord of the Rings.
That blonde girl with a face full of wonder and fear is Princess Cirilla (Freya Allan), who expresses her need to find Geralt of Rivia. For his part, Geralt is told that it is his destiny to protect Princess Cirilla, so it's probably a good idea that they meet up soon.
Meanwhile, this very seductively-dressed woman is Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), a powerful sorceress who is destined for a romantic entanglement with Geralt, which should come as no surprise considering how many longing glances she shoots at him in one trailer. Together, Geralt, Cirilla, and Yennefer will have to brave a hostile Continent to get Ciri to safety.
At least one:
The Witcher is set to drop on Netflix on December 20, 2019.
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Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, The Herald Sun, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.