Yesterday, Henry Cavill posted a picture of himself reading what looked to be a blurred script on Instagram. Despite the fact that the writing was ostensibly illegible, people quickly ran it through deblurring technology in order to decipher what was on the page – as you probably know by now, it was a printout of the Wikipedia entry for Mass Effect 3.
I’m here to say that no, Henry Cavill probably isn’t playing Commander Shepard in a live-action TV adaptation of the Mass Effect trilogy.
There are a few things that instantly stand out to me about the photo. One, I’m pretty sure that literally Superman is aware of deblurring technology and wouldn’t risk his almost-definitely-incredibly-intense NDA over a few Instagram likes. The post is still up, too, despite all of the news currently circulating on the internet. This looks more like a coordinated stunt than some sort of accidental mishap on Cavill’s behalf.
It’s also worth pointing out that Cavill is kitted out in his Geralt gear in the photo. As we all know, season two of Netflix’s The Witcher is currently well into production, meaning that he’s probably just reading up on lore while having his hair and makeup done – when you’ve got a wig like that, combined with cat-eye contact lenses and all of the other cosmetics needed for creating a look this distinctive, you can imagine Cavill spends quite a lot of time in trailers. I don’t think there’s too much to read into here aside from the fact that this is much more casual than it’s being made out to be. I’m sure Cavill probably read Mission Impossible scripts on set for Justice League. It’s completely normal.
On top of that, I think it’s plain silly to assume that the face of Geralt of Rivia is also going to be the face of Commander Shepard. That’s like casting Kit Harington as Aragorn in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series – he’s already Jon Snow. I’m also firmly of the opinion that Mass Effect works best as a game – it’s all about making choices, so watching a show where everything is predetermined just doesn’t make sense. If you want a Mass Effect TV show, go watch The Expanse.
I mean, there are certainly ways around the first issue – that Cavill is already Geralt. He’s reading up on Tali, the Geth, and the Reapers in the printout (which, again, is of the wiki, so it’s probably just for a general brush-up on lore as opposed to anything specific). That being said, its mention of Admirals is intriguing, because I think the only way Cavill could get away with doing Mass Effect would be if he wasn’t Shepard, or human at all. Maybe he’ll use his Superman build to play a krogan – or, as the sheet points out, maybe he’ll be a Quarian Admiral, which would suit his disposition pretty well. Cavill may be a leading man, but he’s far more of a Kal’Reegar than a Commander Shepard.
Who knows – maybe BioWare is planning on making a series based on the Quarian King who was cut from Mass Effect 2? Now that’s a role I could see Cavill in. Or, maybe we’ll even get a look at that cancelled Quarian ark DLC from way back in 2017, eh? Any Andromeda fans out there? Just me? Philistines.
Most of the above points are just me addressing possible rebuttals to the fact this probably isn’t a show. It’s also worth pointing out that it could be an animated series or film to which Cavill only lends his voice. That’s a fascinating prospect – maybe it could be like the James Vega movie (although hopefully it isn’t). The series being animated would also get around the idea of Cavill being too recognizable to pass for Shepard. Put his voice through some flanger to make him a turian and even that won’t be recognizable.
With all of the above being said, I honestly reckon this is most likely pointing to the next Mass Effect game. Maybe we won’t play as Ryder or Shepard, but as a new hero voiced by Cavill. Maybe Cavill will be a squadmate, or take on an antagonistic role like Martin Sheen’s illustrious Illusive Man. Cavill made for a pretty great bad guy in Mission Impossible: Fallout, so I’d like to think he’s far more versatile than people who pigeon-hole him into Superman seem to think. I’d love to see him play the Big Bad of a rogue faction in Andromeda.
That last point carries weight because of Cavill himself. It’s pretty widely known that he’s a huge fan of video games, having beaten The Witcher 3 multiple times prior to even hearing about Netflix’s series. He’s also really into Warhammer. Given his investment in sci-fi and fantasy, it’s not surprising that he’d be into the idea of working on something Mass Effect-related. I also think it’s worth mentioning that his interest in video games and status as an actor don’t mean he’s just going to do video game movies – if he likes games, why not act for one? At this stage, I’d like to think we all know that video game acting is just as valid as any other form of entertainment. Performance capture is remarkably difficult to get right, while voiceover artists only have a single tool at their disposal to elicit an entire character’s personality. Andy Serkis got shunned at the Oscars back when The Lord of the Rings first came out because people thought motion capture wasn’t real acting – in 2020, he got a BAFTA for Outstanding Contribution To British Cinema. Basically, if you’re still calling video game actors “voice actors” or treating them as if they’re any different to TV or film actors, you’re being an idiot.
We already know there’s a new Mass Effect game in the works. Who knows whether it’s Andromeda 2 or a brand new series – I don’t really mind as long as it’s not about Shepard. I swear, BioWare, if you bring Shepard back, I will quite literally become The Joker.
But yeah. I mean, Cavill’s probably got something lined up for after The Witcher season two, right? So, why not experiment with a new form of acting that’s inherently tied to one of the mediums he is most passionate about? I’m sure some of you like the idea of a Mass Effect TV series, but I sure as hell don’t. Henry Cavill in a Mass Effect game though? Sign me up.
And before you say he’s too big… mate, we had Martin Sheen in Mass Effect 2. As in, that Martin Sheen – Apocalypse Now, The Departed, The West Wing. We had Natalie Dormer as Lexi, Carrie-Anne Moss as Aria T’Loak, Freddie Prinze Jr. as James Vega, Seth Green as Joker, and the list goes on and on. Cavill is huge, I know – but if BioWare got Captain Benjamin L. Willard to portray the head of Cerberus, I’m pretty sure it can attract the attention of someone who’s already in love with the series and format.
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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.
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