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From Zack Snyder to Guy Ritchie: Henry Cavill’s 5 best films on Netflix

“My version of Superman is essentially of a guy who has spent his whole life alone.”

If we make a list of the top ten people in Hollywood who have been objectified rampantly, Henry Cavill’s name shall make it to the top tier of the list. It is genuinely demoralising to see how desperately the actor tries to shed his image of being the sexy, brawny, shirtless man with a great physique in a struggle to be known for his acting. He has often emphasised his displeasure for repeated shirtless scenes, noting that all people care about are his muscles and not the depth of the character he is trying to portray. Most recently seen as Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s original film Enola Holmes, it was refreshing to see Cavill as an intellectually stimulating character which was definitely a fresh change from seeing him as the whipped Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher. Do not get me wrong here, Cavill was exceptional as the silver-haired Geralt with his incredibly deep baritone humming the constant “Hmm’s”, but all one could focus on were his muscles laden with battle scars.

Cavill was born to a Catholic family of mainly English descent on May 5, 1983. One of five brothers, Cavill played rugby at his boarding school where he first met Russell Crowe where the latter shared a few tips and tricks of the trade. Cavill would go on to play Crowe’s son in Man of Steel and he began his acting journey with Laguna, followed by an adaptation of the Count of Monte Cristo in the early 2000s. After bagging various roles, he came to the audience attention with his role as Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk in BBC’s extremely popular show The Tudors. Eventually, he won an Emmy for his performance besides getting a Golden Globe nomination. Hollywood, according to Cavill, recognised him because of his role in the show and he is forever indebted to the show for having helped him establish his talents. 

Following his success, Cavill ended up missing a lot of roles namely that of Cedric Diggory, Edward Cullen, James Bond and even that of Superman to Brandon Routh. However, after appearing in Immortals, he was offered the role of Clark Kent aka Superman in Zack Snyders Man of Steel which catapulted his fame. After reprising his role and subsequently appearing in many varied characters, he garnered immense praise for his role as Geralt of Rivia. 

Often calling himself a “giant softy”, Cavill is a well-liked figure in Hollywood. While we sincerely wish that he would be objectified less and praised more for his acting skills rather than his buff physique, one cannot deny that the man is indeed incredibly handsome and charismatic. On his 38th birthday today, let us take a look at some of his best films available for streaming on Netflix. 

Henry Cavill’s 5 best films on Netflix:

5.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder, 2016)

Seeing a fight ensue between our favourite childhood superheroes with intense mommy issues is heartbreaking yet thrilling at the same time. In the film, the general mass expresses their fearful opinion regarding the oh-so-powerful Superman cohabiting their planet as well as the Dark Knight – AKA Batman – being allowed to independently dominate Gotham streets. Batman, overcome with rage and lust for power and fearing Superman’s misuse of unbridled power, attacks him. Lex Luthor tries to manipulate the situation to his favour and the world reels under the aftermath of such a destructive and unimaginably all-consuming fight to understand what kind of a hero they really need for their own protection.  

Cavill was conscious of the immense damage that was caused to civilians in the Man of Steel film and wanted an action sequence in the film where Superman would only harm the evil. While the film did receive heavy criticism, Cavill has often echoed his co-star Ben Affleck when he has talked about how this film was made for fans and not critics. Cavill has always elaborated on how the film was not exploring the evolution of his character but providing both perspectives of the respective superheroes to decide if Superman was really as tyrannical as Batman thought him to be. Calling their epic conflict a “historic moment”, he said that they were the “two sides of the same coin” who had “the same goal” but ended up using “very different methods to achieve it” which “leads them to clash with one another”.   

“Next time they shine your light in the sky, don’t go to it. The Bat is dead. Bury it. Consider this mercy.”

4. Man of Steel (Zack Snyder, 2013)

A young boy named Clark Kent gets to know from his adoptive father about his origin as well as the secrets regarding his unbridled superhuman power. His father advises him to stay lowkey until he is ready. He is guilt-ridden after not being able to save his father from a tornado and begins travelling the world. Yet he gets a chance to redeem himself and let the latent hero in him emerge when the world is under an annihilation attack from the villainous Zod, an inhabitant of Krypton and Clark’s sworn enemy. He must assume the identity of Superman who can instil hope and strength in mankind while protecting humanity from the verge of extinction.  

Cavill was the first-ever British actor to play the role of Superman. Cavill has often opened up about Superman’s vulnerabilities of being isolated and not being able to connect with those around him. The loneliness often made Superman feel utter confusion regarding when he was supposed to draw a line. For his role, he worked intensively and pushed himself to the threshold of nearly giving up yet refused to take steroids. His immense effort for the shirtless scenes and the sheer effort to gain the perfect Superman physique made the director reward him with pizza and ice cream. While some viewers were not having his initial clenched jaw and overall stiffness throughout the film, others were bowled over by his honest efforts as well as the charismatic yet angsty demeanour. 

“My father believed that if the world found out who I really was, they’d reject me… out of fear. I let my father die because I trusted him. Because he was convinced that I had to wait. That the world was not ready. What do you think?”

3. Sand Castle (Fernando Coimbra, 2017)

A young man named Matt Ocre enlists in the military right before the 9/11 attacks not out of bravery but to protect the idea of freedom as well as earn money for college. He is slowly inducted into the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and gets a firsthand experience of the ongoing atrocities. Ocre is assigned the job of providing water to a village along with other soldiers as the infrastructure was completely destroyed. However, in a hostile environment and war-like climate, even providing water or plumbing seems to be an impossible task. Ocre slowly starts realising the truth about warfare and grows disillusioned by the day. 

Henry Cavill stars as Captain Syverson who runs the vicious operation in the village of Baqubah. Nicholas Hoult as Pvt Matt Ocre works under him in the village. The screenwriter Chris Roessner felt that Henry Cavill was tailormade for the role due to his respect for the military as well as his apt physical appearance. According to Roessner, Cavill “sure as hell looked the part. I mean the guy is Superman. You’ve seen the films. He’s in ridiculous shape. And these Special Forces soldiers, when they aren’t on missions they’re working out. That’s the lifestyle and the body type follows. So that was clear.”

“Taught that guy Texas Hold ’em. Do not play him. Turns out he’s a Goddamn prodigy.”

2. Enola Holmes (Harry Bradbeer, 2020)

Based on Nancy Springer’s series, the film focuses on the smart and spirited sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes, named  Enola Holmes. Raised by her mother to be a well-rounded woman, Enola develops an innate talent in jujutsu and chess under her mother’s tutelage. She is quick-witted and independent. In the film, one fine day, Enola’s mother suddenly disappears leaving behind a trail of clues for Enola to find her. Sherlock loves Enola’s insightful mind while Mycroft finds her troublesome; Enola must evade their invasive nature and make sense of her mother’s whereabouts while trying to protect the handsome Viscount Tewkesburt who is also on the run like her.

While Millie Bobby Brown is spectacular as Enola, it is extremely surprising to see the buff Henry Cavill portray the role of the intellectually buff Sherlock Holmes. While Cavill is no Benedict Cumberbatch, he does well in his limited screentime, complementing Sam Claflin as his haughty older brother Mycroft Holmes. His portrayal of Sherlock Holmes actually led to a lawsuit being filed against Netflix for wrongfully portraying Holmes as having emotions. Cavill said that the screenplay demanded it out of him and they had even toned down on the emotions, to begin with. Nevertheless, the film abounds in innocence, charm and exuberance and offers a ready escape from the mundane nature of the modern world.  

“Sometimes you must dangle your feet in the water in order to attract the sharks.”

1. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie, 2015) 

With the Cold War as its backdrop in the 1960s, agents from the CIA and KGB, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are begrudgingly made to work together to stop a private criminal organisation from using a scientist’s expertise and invention to make their own nuclear bombs in tune with their Nazi propaganda. As they navigate through the perilous atmosphere, facing death at every instant, they grow closer and a bond of friendship and dependability grows as they often rush to each other’s rescue. However, they know that whomever the contents reach first must kill the other and maintain loyalty to their respective organizations. However, when the time comes, the nerves fail and emotions take precedence. 

Henry Cavill is usually marketed by his shirtless body and expressed his immense relief at not having to go shirtless once again as Napoleon Solo as it gave him the headspace to focus on his acting rather than workout regime. He, along with Armie Hammer, performed his own stunts. Hammer was apparently in awe of Cavill’s “good looks, his chiselled body, his muscles, pretty much everything”. They all engaged in plenty of improv and Cavill was a delight on screen and garnered plenty of praise for his performance. 

“Not very good at this whole subtlety thing, are you?”

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