The Witcher is the world’s newest favourite franchise. In addition to the eponymous Netflix series is the recently released anime, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, which took the world by a storm. Furthermore, the popular CDProjekt Red video game series also comes from Andrzej Sapowski’s novels.
The 2019 series saw Henry Cavill as the gruff and quiet Geralt, a character who knows how powerful silence is. Meanwhile, this year’s programme featured an equally energetic Vesemir, who turned out to be his polar opposite Geralt’s mentor, as revealed at the end of the anime. This December, the second season is en route, and showrunner Lauren Hissrich has promised various new twists and turns.
With that in mind, we have been trying to debate and decide who the better Witcher is? Is it the Henry Cavill-led eternal voice-of-reason, the clam and wizened Geralt of Rivia? Or is it the Theo James-voiced hot-headed man-of-action, the impulsive and charming Vesemir? Both the mutants have our heart, although we might prefer the animated ‘swashbuckling Witcher for hire’ Vesemir a little bit more, and this is why.
While the creators had only around the hour-mark to develop Vesemir’s story, they somehow managed to make it more impactful and intriguing than Geralt’s. The latter remains a man shrouded in an amorphous haze where no sense can be made of his being. Throughout the series, we only get a few hints about Geralt’s past and his actions. The show feeds on his mysterious demeanour, which somehow makes him feel less attainable and distant.
Vesemir, however, despite his cocky attitude, draws immense empathy due to his touching backstory. We follow him from his humble beginnings as a malnourished servant catering to the needs of the rich for a few crumbs; he goes in pursuit of his destiny. He braves the cold snow and various other monsters to fulfil the promise he made to his childhood sweetheart Illyana. The film quickly builds his character arc and highlights his sacrificial and soft nature, providing a compelling account of his flawed yet humane personality.
Experience and Development
Later on, we discover Vesemir is astonishingly Geralt’s mentor, which indicates that the man must be having more experience than him. However, in the film, it emerges that Vesemir has only been a Witcher for sixty years. Although he is quite aged, he still has extremely handsome looks and seems very young due to the various mutated genes in his body. Compared to Vesemir’s sixty years of experience, Geralt, in the series, is a veteran since he has been a Witcher for countless decades.
However, since Vesemir is his mentor, Geralt must have adopted all the methods of monster hunting from him. Additionally, we will only get to see Vesemir in the second season of Netflix’s The Witcher, played by Kim Bodin. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to see how this cool, charming man bursting with youth and vigour in the anime has aged.
Enigma and charm
Geralt is in crazy shape, with Henry Cavill going through months of intense training to look his part. He is insanely ripped and extremely handsome. Yet, somehow, his dry, sardonic humour and soft grunts lack the charm and effect of the enigmatic Vesemir. Unlike Geralt, he has a way with words and is also a roguish provocateur. Additionally, he revels and basks in the glory and glamour of being a Witcher and is rightly described as the ‘swashbuckling Witcher for hire’.
Vesemir is brimming with the eagerness, anticipation and vigour of youthful brilliance. He is completely in contrast to Geralt and his quiet and observant ways. However, one cannot wholly blame the latter, for he has dealt with the idea of being an abomination and a blemish for decades. Vesemir is like a breath of much-needed fresh air that reeks of expensive wine, flirty remarks and charm.
Geralt bears the sadness of the world on his shoulder. He is jaded and weary, reflecting his time as a seasoned Witcher in the gruff sorrow that his eyes bear as he loses himself in a feeling of loneliness and mortality, accompanied by none but his faithful horse, Roach, which makes him poignant and profound. One look at Geralt is enough to make one see through the disillusionment of life.
Vesemir, still young and sprightly, is not as mature as Geralt. He has fun slaying the monsters, flirts around with bar maidens and still dreams of the childhood lake house with Illyana. Although Geralt looks more experienced and weary, Vesemir’s lack of empathy and pathos sometimes helps evoke questions about how and why he managed to block out such emotions.
Henry Cavill had performed most of his stunts as the Witcher alone, which is indeed commendable. His actions mainly involved sword fights- realistic, minimal and simple. His set-up was relatively simpler too. He showcased his skills as a great fighter and knew how to survive against all odds, just like any everyman.
Vesemir, computer-generated or not, is, however, a different ball game altogether. His actions as a monster-slayer are extremely well-stylized, nuanced and a visual delight. He spins around, jumps in the air, drinks a potion to move rapidly, and wields magical powers. These speedy actions are blurry and fluid, and he showcases his supreme talent as an extremely capable fighter who can battle almost every adversary.
Geralt has been a lone wolf for the longest time, weary and exhausted from all he has been through. However, Vesemir’s position is even more intriguing.
Initially, the man reeks of arrogance, cockiness and a bratty attitude. He is apathetic, takes coins off a dead body and leaves. He has a certain disdain for new recruits and refuses to train them. He lashes out against the people underneath him and tries to make them aware of their lowly place in the world.
However, when his classification is threatened, and the walls close in on him, Vesemir takes charge with Kaer Morhen destroyed. Also, he’s a man of action who shows his courage and bravery by putting up a dauntless fight. In light of these events, he resolves to defend himself and the little boys, of which Geralt is one. They fly under his wing as Vesemir takes charge and moulds them into better Witchers who will also be better men. A task that he makes look simple.
Geralt is undoubtedly wiser than Vesemir. He has world-weariness in his attitude and is accustomed to the testing ways of the world. That experience means his choices are free of prejudices, and he refuses to take sides, knowing how blurred the lines of morality are. He knows the power he holds and doesn’t get himself embroiled in more unnecessary conflict and chaos.
In a way, he’s like a wizened philosopher who somehow finds himself stuck in the direst situations. Contrastingly, Vesemir is way more rash and impulsive. At the same time, he is comparatively less experienced than Geralt in the film and seems to have the desire to act upon his heart rather than the brain. However, season two will help us reflect on the same yet again.
Given the amount of hatred between Vesemir and the local mage, Tetra, we were almost certain it would culminate into some kind of sexual tension. Fortunately for Vesemir, they both continued to fight against each other despite being on the same team for some time. Tetra’s abhorrence towards the Witchers led her to seek help from the same monsters that Vesemir and his kin were destroying (and creating).
Vesemir’s relationship to the other Witchers is shown when the Witchers are having a hard time sustaining themselves amidst growing poverty. Trauma hits when his only friend is slaughtered while he is on a mission. However, things take an upward turn when he reunites with his childhood sweetheart and kisses her one last time before she collapses. Although Vesemir’s relationships are quite complicated and bittersweet, the man’s go-getter attitude is worth noticing.
Geralt’s closest associates involve sorceresses, which is epitomised by his doomed romance with Yennefer. The tension between Mages and Witchers is not apparent in Geralt’s story, further highlighting how volatile and layered Vesemir’s relationships are.