What is Henry Cavill's upcoming Warhammer Cinematic Universe all about?
It has been quite a few months for Henry Cavill.
In October, he shocked audiences by popping up as Superman in the post-credits scene of DC movie Black Adam — his first appearance as the character since Justice League in 2017, other than the recut Zack Snyder's Justice League. He subsequently announced that we would be seeing his Superman again in new DC projects.
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Perhaps as a result, Cavill left his role as lead character Geralt of Rivia in Netflix fantasy series The Witcher, with Liam Hemsworth drafted in to play the character from season four.
But then, Warner Bros hired James Gunn and Peter Safran as the new head honchos of the DC Extended Universe — and Cavill isn't in their plans. The star confirmed this week that he will not be playing Superman again for Warner Bros, with Gunn pushing forward as the writer of a movie featuring a younger Kal-El.
With me so far? In the wake of all of that, many were questioning what Cavill would do next. He'd just left one big franchise in order to rejoin another one, only to end up empty-handed. But it looks like he's filling those empty hands with immaculately painted figures of alien warriors.
Yup, Cavill has announced that he will "guide" a "cinematic universe" of projects based around the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000. Amazon has nabbed the rights to the hugely popular war game from creator Games Workshop, which first launched it way back in 1987.
So what is Cavill doing, and will it be worth keeping an eye on?
What is Warhammer 40,000?
With 35 years of history, Warhammer 40,000 is as popular as a tabletop game gets. It's a dice-based war game played on a board which features buildings, hills and other kinds of terrain, populated by hand-painted figures. These figures represent various factions of playable characters, with some human, some android and some alien.
The game's action takes place 40,000 years in the future at a time where the factions are at war with each other, including aspects of sci-fi and fantasy in its complex lore. Rick Priestley, the game's creator, has cited JRR Tolkien, HP Lovecraft and the 2000AD comic books as major influences.
Ever since the game first debuted in 1987, Games Workshop has been keen to establish the breadth of its mythology with tie-in novels and video games. In written form alone, there have been 350 Warhammer 40K books from a variety of authors.
There's certainly no doubt that Amazon has picked up a rich well of storytelling possibilities with this purchase, so it's important that they have the right person keeping track of it all.
What has Henry Cavill said about his involvement?
Anyone with more than a cursory knowledge of Henry Cavill knows that he's a massive nerd. He built his own gaming PC during lockdown in 2020 and has spoken many times over the years of his admiration for games like World of Warcraft and Total War. That same year, he revealed his "life long hobby" of painting Warhammer miniatures in an Instagram post.
Of the franchise, he said: "Genuinely can't get enough of the lore they have built over the decades. They have been some of my most enthused reads! If you were in denial about me being a geek before, you can't hide from it now."
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So with Cavill's nerd credentials firmly established, it makes complete sense that he's the man with the keys to the Warhammer franchise. The Hollywood Reporter has written that Cavill will executive produce and star in a TV series adaptation of the game.
Officially announcing his involvement with the Warhammer Cinematic Universe (WarCU?) on Instagram, Cavill said he'd been hoping to see the game in live-action form for three decades.
"Having a home like Amazon will give us the freedom to be true to the massive scope of Warhammer," he wrote. "To all of you Warhammer fans out there, I promise to respect this IP that we love. I promise to bring you something familiar. And I endeavour to bring you something fantastic that is, as of yet, unseen."
Cavill said the next step is for the burgeoning universe to find itself a director/writer/creator to begin the process of immortalising Warhammer 40,000 on screen. It seems clear that, whoever they hire, Cavill will be a key creative voice going forward.
With a new movie version of Dungeons & Dragons already on the 2023 release slate, it could be quite the year for board game lovers.
Watch: Amazon bringing Warhammer to life in film and TV universe