Henry Cavill’s Best Movie Roles, Ranked
Henry Cavill had an interesting year in 2022. He returned briefly as Superman in Black Adam before confirming that the role was being recast for James Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DC Universe (DCU). He announced that he was leaving The Witcher and being replaced by Liam Hemsworth after season 3. And he revealed that he is involved with Amazon’s Warhammer 40,000 live-action TV series. Needless to say, there have been quite a few changes in Cavill’s career recently.
While the Superman situation has attracted substantial attention, it is important to remember that many of Cavill’s best performances have been in movies (and shows) unrelated to DC. These performances cover a wide array of genres, from action flicks to mysteries and even historical dramas. Cavill has been active in the film industry for over two decades now, meaning that he has pretty much done a bit of everything. Out of all of his impressive acting credits, here are the eight best films Cavill has appeared in, ranked to the best.
8. Man of Steel
Man of Steel premiered in 2011 and marked not only the launch of the DCEU, but also Cavill’s very first appearance as Superman. The film serves as an origin story for Cavill’s Clark Kent, exploring how he came to be raised by humans on Earth, discovered his true identity, and eventually took on the mantle of the hero called Superman.
The film propelled Cavill into the spotlight and garnered worldwide recognition. However, Man of Steel was far from a perfect film. Many praised Cavill’s unique take on Superman, but pointed out that his performance was limited by the film’s shortcomings. Man of Steel is comprised largely of action and visuals, boasting a pretty basic plot and lacking depth. The film also could’ve used some more charm or humor, as it feels too dry and stiff at times. Man of Steel is pretty solid in its visuals and action sequences, but it doesn’t go as deep as it could have—and launched the DCEU on shaky footing.
Stardust is one of the films that most people forget Cavill appeared in. This is both because his role was fairly minor and because Stardust is a bit of an obscure film from 2007. However, it is an enjoyable one, nonetheless. Stardust follows Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox)’s attempt to capture a fallen star from a magical world after the woman he believes he is in love with promises to marry him, but only if he retrieves it for her. If he doesn’t retrieve it in time, though, she will go ahead with her plans to marry her boyfriend, Humphrey (Cavill).
While Cavill performed well in his smaller role, it wasn’t a very likable one. Much like his girlfriend, he is pretty vain and annoying and often enjoys complicating matters. However, the film itself is quite good. Stardust is a bit strange and off-kilter, but it works, resulting in a charming and humorous fantasy adventure and love story.
6. Zack Snyder’s Justice League
In 2021, after a successful campaign from zealous fans, Warner Bros. released Zack Snyder’s director’s cut of 2017’s Justice League. Snyder was originally hired to direct Justice League, but a family tragedy led to Joss Whedon taking over the project. Both Whedon and the studio made significant changes to the film, which was poorly received. Snyder’s cut has the same plot as the theatrical version of Justice League, with Batman (Ben Affleck) rallying the eponymous team to face a serious threat.
However, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was far more well-received than what was initially released. With twice the runtime of the original, Snyder’s version has far more context, depth, character/plot development, and feels more balanced. It is a bit overly long, though, and more likely to be appreciated by Snyder fans than by casual viewers.
5. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a spy film directed by Guy Ritchie and released in 2015. The film follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) during the Cold War era. The two are forced to put their rivalries aside and work together to stop a criminal organization that’s planning a nuclear attack in an effort to further tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. and spark World War III.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a very enjoyable film, though a bit tainted by the since-disgraced Hammer. Still, it is a bit reminiscent of James Bond with its charm, action, and self-assured style. Cavill and Hammer play off of each other well, fully embracing their respective characters’ personalities and clashing and connecting realistically. The Man From U.N.C.L.E ultimately isn’t a very impactful or deep film, but it is a very fun and entertaining spy story.
4. I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle premiered in 2003 and is based on the novel of the same name by Dodie Smith. The film follows the Mortmain family, who live in a castle that James Mortmain (Bill Nighy) took out a 40-year lease on after his first novel was a success. 10 years later and suffering from writer’s block, James has failed to maintain his success and has left his daughters Rose (Rose Byrne) and Cassandra (Romola Garai) in poverty. When the Mortmains meet the rich Cotton family and their two sons, Neil (Marc Blucas) and Simon (Henry Thomas), Rose decides to marry Neil to escape poverty, but a complex love triangle soon develops.
This solid adaption of Smith’s novel is true to the source material and proves to be a very charming and quirky romance with complex themes about love, wealth, and social classes. Cavill appears in the film as Stephen Colley, the son of the Mortmain family’s maid, who is in love with Cassandra. He’s the sort of loyal, hardworking, and kind boy the audience is likely to root for, but doesn’t get the credit he deserves with Simon and Neil in the picture.
3. Enola Holmes
Enola Holmes premiered in 2020 and follows Sherlock Holmes (Cavill)’s teenage sister, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown). Like her famous older brother, Enola is very sharp and has strong detective skills. However, she is also fiercely independent and rebels against her brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin)’s guardianship, setting off on her own to solve the mystery of her missing mother.
Enola Holmes is an unexpected but very pleasant surprise. It is charming, vibrant, and fun, and—most importantly—it accomplishes the difficult task of adding something truly new and fresh to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world of Sherlock Holmes. The mystery is compelling, the storytelling is riveting, and the performances are top-notch, with Brown showing off her comedic genius as the inquisitive, third-wall-breaking heroine. Though his role is a bit too brief, Cavill also impressed as a more dignified, laidback, and gentler version of the beloved Holmes.
2. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Mission: Impossible – Fallout premiered in 2018 and proved once again that Cavill has a knack for playing CIA agents. The sixth installment in the Mission: Impossible film series follows IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he joins forces with CIA agent August Walker (Cavill) to stop a terrorist organization from fulfilling its plans to launch nuclear attacks on three separate locations in Rome, Jerusalem, and Mecca.
One would think that, after six films, the Mission: Impossible franchise would be running out of steam. But Fallout proves that the franchise just keeps getting bigger and better, with many considering it the best installment in the series. Cruise and Cavill especially earned high praise for their top-notch performances and stunts. It also boasts an engaging storyline, stunning visuals, and non-stop grand action sequences that make it impossible (sorry) to look away.
1. Enola Holmes 2
Enola Holmes 2 premiered in 2022 and serves as a direct sequel to the original film. It sees Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) struggling to get her own detective business off the ground after solving the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. When a young girl needs help finding her sister, Enola gets wrapped up in an exciting and dangerous mystery that intersects with her brother’s work.
Enola Holmes 2 had big shoes to fill after the success of the first film, but it actually manages to surpass its predecessor. Like the original, the sequel boasts heart, humor, charm, and an intricate mystery. Brown is as delightful and witty as ever, while the mystery is fresh, exciting, and complex. One thing that really gives the film an edge is Cavill’s expanded role, which allows him to delve deeper into the character of Sherlock and further explore the sweet brother-sister dynamic between the two like-minded siblings.
(featured image: Warner Bros. / Paramount / Netflix)
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