Fans of "The Witcher" on Netflix have probably already seen the news. In Season 4, Liam Hemsworth will replace Henry Cavill in the character of Geralt, for reasons that may or may not be related to the latter's recently revived career as the DCEU's Superman.
The "The Hunger Games" veteran Hemsworth has unquestionably the appearance and talent to play the stoic, strong Geralt of Rivia, and "The Witcher" casting director Sophie Holland has undoubtedly chosen the greatest alternative for Cavill. However, Cavill so completely controls the role that after hearing of the recast, many fans have been instinctively pushing the eject button, which is a pretty clear sign of doom for a franchise named for its primary character's day job. Every live-action Superman will eventually be compared to Christopher Reeve, to use an example that fits Cavill. Similarly, Hemsworth now has the almost impossible chore of gracefully and gruffly carrying the silver wig of his adored predecessor.
Recasts like this have been accomplished in the past; just look at the James Bond series. The difference is that it seems doubtful that audiences or Netflix will give "The Witcher" another shot if Hemsworth turns out to be a George Lazenby.
Could the show, however, pull it off? Without Henry Cavill, could "The Witcher" continue to exist? If the show bears the following in mind, the answer might just be yes.
The immense number of storylines the show has thus far ignored is undoubtedly the factor that most benefits "The Witcher's" Hemsworth era. There are still a tonne of plotlines that have the potential to engage fans. By virtue of its inherent cultural relevance, the programme is essentially obligated to use "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" as a crutch to lessen the blow of recasting.
The show has already made it clear that the upcoming events involve the title Wild Hunt. Voleth Meir (Ania Marson), who turns out to be a dark elf associated with the Wild Hunt, is a key character in Season 2. In the season finale, The Hunt itself makes a brief but appropriately terrifying appearance. Eredin Bréacc Glas and his team should therefore contact Ciri in a short amount of time.
However, there is a critical query over the future of the programme. When will the Wild Hunt initiate action? The entrance of the supernatural villains could easily keep the programme going for a few seasons, and knowing that Cavill will be leaving after the upcoming season, the Season 3 finale would be the ideal time for the Wild Hunt's full introduction. Whether Cavill appears or not, this would offer a compelling cliffhanger that would entice viewers to return the next season.
The Wild Hunt may indeed take a break for the majority of Season 3, only to reappear when Hemsworth can join in for Season 4. Henry Cavill initially committed to "The Witcher" for seven seasons, and given that the Nilfgaardian storyline will likely consume a significant amount of Season 3's airtime, the Wild Hunt may indeed take a break. But if the timing is off, there's a chance that Cavill will lose a sizable chunk of the audience.
The good news is that much of the rest of "The Witcher's" cast is excellent and doesn't appear to be leaving. Aside from the surviving primary protagonists Ciri (Freya Allan) and Yennefer of Vengerberg (Anya Chalotra), many other characters have developed over the course of the two seasons, including Cahir (Eamon Farren), Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer), and, of course, Jaskier (Joey Batey). They've demonstrated that they can unquestionably carry a scene, as have numerous other characters. There are therefore many more reasons to watch the show throughout Hemsworth's era, even if we assume the worst and believe that he would either fail or be rejected by the audience.
But what if one or more of these characters are handled poorly in "The Witcher"? What if the fans also dislike the need to recast someone like Ciri or perhaps Vesemir (Kim Bodnia)? What if the writers overcompensate by abruptly elevating ancillary characters to the forefront, only for them to irritate viewers to the point of death from overexposure and vain attempts to imitate the success of "Toss A Coin to Your Witcher"? (Pardon me, Jaskier.)
Such foolish choices, in the opinion of many fans, would probably only serve to amplify the Cavill recasting's already grating background noise. If there are many errors, it will only be a matter of time before the fan stops watching when the noise reaches a certain level.
Whether you like it or not, it appears that "The Witcher's" fourth season will unquestionably mark a turning point. As long as Netflix's algorithms are kind to it, the show can effectively be invincible if it can control its large array of people, introduce interesting enough plotlines, and seamlessly shift from Cavill to Hemsworth. This task puts even Geralt's worst in-universe foes to shame. If not, then it was still enjoyable while it lasted.
It's important to keep in mind that "The Witcher" has all the resources necessary to make the move successful. Really, all the show needs to do is... keep doing what it's been doing all along, assuming that Hemsworth will be as competent as there is every reason to assume he will be.
However. Many individuals may suddenly have ideas on how to change the premise or place overt focus on certain characters when the stakes are high and the show's greatest star is about to leave. It's possible that brand-new non-canon individuals that really shouldn't be presented will be introduced nonetheless. There may be a desire to exclude crucial details from some of the source material's plots or to take undue liberties with others.
There is little reason to think that "The Witcher" will fall into such a trap, and leaping the shark in a high fantasy environment where it would be just another Tuesday is also difficult to pull off. The show may be in real jeopardy if "The Witcher" can't stop fiddling with what works, whether it's to distract viewers from the recasting or in an effort to sincerely embrace the new lead.