Henry Cavill is the internet's favourite actor right now
Movie fans want him to play every role going from James Bond and Wolverine to Aegon the Conqueror
His recent axing as Superman caused a huge outcry from fans
But how did Henry Cavill become so beloved? Allow us to explain
39-year-old Henry Cavill is the square-jawed Brit with a huge fanbase online.
Despite landing roles in everything from Man of Steel to Mission: Impossible - Fallout, it’s Cavill’s geekier side that’s warmed the hearts of fandom.
Read more: Actors who could be the next James Bond
Proving that even a Hollywood heartthrob isn’t averse to sitting down to paint his Warhammer figures, Cavill represents the more human side of the theatrical elite.
It’s hard to believe that a fresh-faced Henry Cavill found his start in a single episode of Midsomer Murders and the 2002 adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.
For most, it’s not playing Mike in 2005’s Hellraiser: Hellword that they remember Cavill’s early days for, but as the dashing Charles Brandon in The Tudors, or as the floppy-haired Humphrey in Stardust.
Matthew Vaughn’s all-star ensemble saw Cavill brush shoulders with A-listers Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, with the top billing going to a pre-Daredevil Charlie Cox.
From here, there was no stopping Cavill, and in 2013, he helped launch the DC Extended Universe in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
It’s a bird... it’s a plane... no... it's Henry Cavill
Warner Bros. had struggled to get a Superman movie right for several years, but after Christopher Nolan delivered a grittier take on DC Comics with Batman Begins and then The Dark Knight, he turned to Superman next. Teaming up with director Zack Snyder, Nolan produced 2013's Man of Steel starring Cavill as Clark Kent, and dark and brooding Snyderverse was born.
To this day, Man of Steel is held as one of the DCEU’s best and — until only recently — it looked like a sequel was on the way.
Cavill then had his first foray into spy movies as Napoleon Solo in Guy Ritchie's under-appreciated The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, but returned to the DCEU for the divisive Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016.
Despite its critiques and middling box office takings, the DCEU powered forward with the now-infamous Justice League. Even though Superman had 'died' in Batman v Superman, fans were sure we’d see him again, which led to its own problems thanks to Cavill finding a role in another major franchise.
Giving us lip
Cavill became embroiled in the famous moustache-gate of Mission: Impossible - Fallout when Paramount refused to let the star shave his top lip.
Joss Whedon took over from Zack Snyder to complete Justice League, which led to reshoots that required Cavill. He was in the midst of playing the villainous — and moustachioed — August Walker in Mission: Impossible so WB had to awkwardly edit Cavill’s top lip with CGI. To be honest, it was the least of the movie’s troubles.
A critical and commercial panning of Justice League (losing an estimated $60 million) meant the DCEU began to crumble. Movies like Aquaman and a second Wonder Woman went ahead, as well as a change of tack toward 'lighter' movies, including Shazam! and Birds of Prey. Don’t feel too sorry for Cavill, though, because he still had plenty to keep him busy.
Casting a spell on The Witcherverse
Aside from wearing his underpants outside his trousers as Superman, Cavill got his wish to play Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher series. Alongside Mass Effect and Warhammer, Cavill was a self-confessed superfan of CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher games and Andrzej Sapkowski’s original source material.
Co-star Freya Allan told Fortress of Solitude that Cavill was “like a Witcher bible on set. We'll be doing a scene and he'll be like 'I think we should use this line from page 253 of Blood of Elves.'”
Even though Cavill is back for the upcoming season three, it will be his last as Geralt before The Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth takes over.
Despite Cavill posting an emotional goodbye on Instagram, that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from going into overdrive that he previously wanted to leave after season two. Timing hasn’t been great for The Witcher, especially after former producer Beau De Mayo claimed the writers actively mocked the source material.
Although the surprise was ruined ahead of time, Cavill’s shock return as Superman at the end of Black Adam neatly set him up for a sequel, a mythical follow-up to The Suicide Squad, and definitely the long-mooted Man of Steel 2. Sadly, it looks like the Metropolis Marvel is hanging up his spandex again — well, at least over at the DCEU.
Read more: Matthew Vaughn's plan for Man of Steel 2
When former MCU beau James Gunn was announced as co-head of DC Studios, there were cuts across the board. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 3 was the first to go, and while it’s unclear whether Gal Gadot has also left as Wonder Woman, Cavill confirmed via Instagram he’s no longer attached to the role of Superman.
Gunn announced that Warner Bros. is moving forward with a young Superman movie instead of Man of Steel 2, and although some took his mention of “exciting possibilities to work together in the future” to mean Cavill could return, the star’s post put a nail in that coffin. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially due to assumptions Cavill left The Witcher for Superman.
For those hoping that losing Superman could encourage Cavill back to The Witcher, Netflix told CNN there will be “no changes to Season 4 of The Witcher.” Arguably though, it’s opened the door to more opportunities.
Shaken but not stirred
It’s easy to forget Cavill hasn’t always been that guy who plays Superman or Geralt, with others roles including the Enola Holmes movies and the upcoming Highlander reboot. Away from another return to the spy genre for Vaughn’s Argylle, Cavill’s name repeatedly comes up as the next James Bond.
If Vaughn telling Collider Cavill is 'born to play Bond' wasn’t enough, the man himself said 'nothing is off the table' to The Hollywood Reporter. Cavill’s free diary means betting site William Hill has slashed the odds for him to take over from Daniel Craig.
He’s currently tied with Kick-Ass’ Aaron Taylor-Johnson, meaning the pair have edged ahead of frontrunner, Tom Hardy. If Cavill were the next 007, things would’ve come from circle from him losing out to Craig back when casting 2006’s Casino Royale.
If swilling Martini’s isn’t his thing, Cavill just confirmed he’s working on a live-action Warhammer 40,000 adaptation. More than just a one-off movie or TV series, Cavill’s Instagram post claims he has “the skill set and experience to guide a Warhammer Cinematic Universe into life.”
Read more: Cavill wows in 1970s Superman costume
Speaking of cinematic universes, Cavill’s said it would be 'loads of fun' to play Captain Britain in the MCU during his THR interview. A quick scan of the internet will turn up plenty of artwork showing he’d look great as Brian Braddock, and it could be a case of DC’s loss is Marvel’s gain.
From Nerd To Superstar
Away from Cavill’s acting chops, part of what makes him one of Hollywood’s most endearing is that he’s never afraid to let his geek flag fly. We should’ve seen Cavill’s Warhammer Cinematic Universe coming because it’s a game that’s come up time and again in interviews.
You don’t get more wholesome than Cavill discussing all things Warhammer on The Graham Norton Show, and the charming exchange where Tom Holland asked if he could come over and play. For anyone who thought it was just a front, how about when Cavill made a niche reference to a “Blackstone Fortress” that even went over the head of interviewer Josh Horowitz?
Read more: Cavill's Warhammer movie universe explained
When people find out a celeb is a gamer, there’s the default question of PlayStation or Xbox, but going against most, Cavill has confirmed he’s a PC player who also loves Blizzard’s Overwatch. Speaking of which, how many of you can say you’ve held up a career as a megastar and built a PC? In 2020, Cavill sent pulses racing when he shared an Instagram video of him seductively building his own gaming PC.
He’s nothing if not thorough, and back before he’d even stepped into the Superman suit, he was waxing lyrical about his love of comics like Superman: Red Son to Gizmodo. Cavill’s geekdom is so well known, Total War: Warhammer 2’s The Warden and the Paunch DLC even has a character modelled after him.
Whether it’s celebrating International Women’s Day with his dog, Kal, only having nice things to say about Enola Holmes’ Millie Bobby Brown, or taking time out of his day to promote the solo movies of his DCEU co-stars — pulling off a quick Aquaman cosplay to support Jason Momoa — Henry Cavill is a star you can’t help but love.
While he's had a rocky ride the past month, we're sure he'll be moving onto bigger and brighter things in 2023.
Watch: Henry Cavill confirms Superman exit