Sherlock Holmes is a defining pop-cultural icon. Late author Arthur Conan Doyle’s era-defining fictional creation, Holmes, is arguably the slickest, most clever and most fantastic detective created in the history of English Literature. First appearing in the 1887 story A Study in Scarlet, Holmes quickly became a massive sensation in contemporary times, leading to four novels and nearly 56 short stories.
Not only did Arthur Conan Doyle immortalise his famous residence of 221B Baker Street in London, but he also created an indelible legacy for Holmes and his accomplice Dr. John H. Watson as they embarked on various intriguing cases. Given the profound popularity of Sherlock Holmes and its effect on the genre of mystery writing and popular culture, the books have inspired various adaptations in the form of films, shows, theatre productions, radio productions and other publications. Among well-known actors, Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch donned Holmes’ iconic deerstalker cap and pipe to fit in the role. The latest addition to the bandwagon has been DC alum, Henry Cavill.
Henry Cavill has topped the list of male actors in Hollywood who have been objectified rampantly for his well-maintained physique. After gaining recognition as Superman in films like Man of Steel and Justice League, Cavill became a household name after reprising his role as the moody and brooding Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher. Despite his disdain for shirtless scenes that have admittedly made people notice his acting talents less, Cavill had to take off his shirt and flex his muscles for the sake of his character. So when Netflix announced that Cavill would be seen as donning the intellectually-stimulating hat of the acclaimed detective Sherlock Holmes in their 2020 film Enola Holmes, I was ecstatic to see what he had to offer.
Based on Nancy Springer’s book series, the film shifts the focus from Sherlock and decides to chronicle the escapades of his sister, Enola. Portrayed by Millie Bobby Brown, the film also stars Sam Claflin as Mycroft Holmes, the eldest brother, and Helena Bonham Carter as their mother who goes missing, thus fuelling the adventures of Enola in the film.
Previously, Benedict Cumberbatch’s cerebral and insane portrayal of Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock had won over fans. Cold, rude, and a self-proclaimed “high-functioning sociopath”, Cumberbatch was a well-rounded, fast-talking Sherlock that resonated with certified fans of Doyle’s creation. While Downey Jr.’s Sherlock was way more rooted in reality and donned disguises like the source material, Cumberbatch made his character memorable via certain quirks and idiosyncracies, carving out a cult-like following. However, the show’s writing failed him and did no justice to Doyle’s brilliant creation. By adding in fantastical elements, a descent into insanity and an unsolicited appearance of his mentally twisted sister, Eurus, Sherlock did an immense disservice to Doyle’s ingenious as it approached the end.
Cavill, however, was a different Sherlock. Unlike his predecessors, Cavill did not take the centre as Sherlock and was a side character. As Enola’s elder brother, he is kind, compassionate and warm. Unlike Mycroft, who is arrogant and proud, Cavill’s Sherlock is emotionally and intellectually buff as he relives fond memories of Enola’s childhood and has faith in her despite all circumstances. His sensitive nature actually led to a lawsuit being filed against Netflix for wrongfully portraying Holmes as having emotions. Cavill later talked about how he toned down on emotions despite the script demanding such from him.
Henry Cavill adds a sense of charm and innocence to Sherlock Holmes. He somehow makes the character very realistic, human and in touch with his emotions. Cavill will soon be seen in Enola Holmes 2, and we hope to see Cavill as Sherlock in more such film roles.