Ill-Advised Witcher Ad Campaign Really Wants You To Remember Henry Cavill’s Not Gone Yet

Ill-Advised Witcher Ad Campaign Really Wants You To Remember Henry Cavill’s Not Gone Yet

Although we’ve only just got access to the first half of Henry Cavill’s swansong as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s Witcher adaptation, we’ve known for a good while yet the actor was on his way out of the Continent for good. But Netflix is, bizarrely, using that fact to lure viewers back — while feeling like it’s negging its own casting choice in the process.

To celebrate the first volume of Witcher’s third season hitting the streaming platform last week, Netflix launched a global marketing push that, uh, essentially involves dragging incoming Geralt of Rivia, Liam Hemsworth. Projected billboard campaigns appearing in locations across the UK simply stating “Yes, he’s still Geralt in season 3,” in reference to the fact that Henry Cavill hasn’t quite hung his swords up on the show yet, have drawn ire not just for re-reminding people of the incredibly unpopular decision to re-cast The Witcher’s primary star, but because of how dismissive the billboards feel about the decision itself in the first place.

It’s not the first time recent Netflix marketing’s tounge-in-cheek approach to self-awareness has backfired — remember its “Animation is cinema” billboards at the height of the stream’s push to drop and cut animated projects from its slates? — but there is something specifically absurd about the Witcher situation. Of course, filming meant that at some point the streamer was going to have to get it out early that Liam Hemsworth was running around in a white wig and leathers instead of Henry Cavill, so we were always going to know in advance about Geralt’s recasting. But combining the controversy of that initial announcement — little has been said officially about the reasons for Cavill’s exit from the series, while rumours have been left to spread like wildfire — with the fact that Witcher fans have had to sit with the news for so long Netflix thought it necessary to re-poke the bear is, suffice it to say, going down a bit weirdly.

And that’s even before you get to the fact the campaign feels bizarrely petty towards Liam Hemsworth who… Netflix hired to replace Cavill in the first place! What was the need to put him in the crossfire of already annoyed fans, anyway? Netflix is far from the first, and will be far from the last, massive behemoth of an entertainment company wielding the language of fandom to appear relatable in this manner — and they’re far from the first or the last to have it back fire and just make them look incredibly out of touch, either.