Unlike many superhero movie actors who’ll tell you that they’ve always loved their character ‘grout boy’, or ‘toad woman’, Henry Cavill is genuinely a very nerdy man. To the uninitiated, the extent of Cavill’s nerdiness might come as a surprise. Yes, Cavill is the man behind Superman. And, yes, he plays the White Wolf himself in The Witcher (for now). But these are relatively mainstream action movies and fantasy series. Plenty of actors will play a Star Wars character, for example, while having no love for Star Wars itself.
Not Henry Cavill. Cavill is a man who nearly missed out on his DC movie role because he was busy playing the MMORPG World of Warcraft. He’s a man who gave up his lead role in one of the biggest Netflix series after voicing his concern that his character wasn’t sticking sufficiently close to the source material.
When an interviewer recently asked him a question about Warhammer, and then revealed it was a topic he knew nothing about, Cavill could barely contain his disappointment. This is a man who wants to have a serious conversation about which Warhammer 40K army Sherlock Holmes would collect. He deserves some reward for that, and though he’s just been re-appointed as Clark Kent, it’s time to give Henry Cavill what he really wants: a Warhammer movie.
It is conceivable that you don’t know what Warhammer 40K is, and you can be forgiven for that. Warhammer 40K (or just 40K for short) is a tabletop miniature game beloved by those who play it, but its mainstream appeal is limited. In a game of Warhammer 40K, you will deploy your own army of miniature space soldiers to fight against another player’s army. And when I say fight, most of the time, you’re arguing about the interpretation of the rules, rolling dice, and having arguments about the accuracy of one another’s use of a ruler.
The game is balanced on top of decades of lore, and so whether or not you pick an army of genetically-enhanced Space Marines or filthy Xenos, is a big decision. It has inspired a huge number of video games and, most notably, an inconceivably large number of Warhammer 40K books.
Those books explore everything in the world of Warhammer 40K, from the fall of the Emperor of the Imperium of Man to the stories of individual regiments of lowly soldiers and their leaders, to the adventures of inquisitors on the hunt for demons and heretics. In fact, Warhammer 40K’s lore and the setting is so influential that an entire sub-genre of dystopian fiction, Grimdark, is inspired by it.
Needless to say, as God Emperor of the nerds, Cavill is a master of Warhammer 40K. He will talk about the topic at any given opportunity with a passion that practically sears through the screen. He can often be found posting images of his model painting to his Instagram account, acting as an unofficial ambassador for the hobby. Cavill loves Warhammer 40K in all its forms.
So, with an already dedicated fan base and so many pre-existing popular stories, why has no studio been brave enough to commission a Warhammer 40K action movie, or sci-fi series, with the British actor as the lead? Unfortunately, if any consideration has been given to the idea and then dismissed, that’s likely because the tabletop gaming franchise is seen as too inaccessible – too nerdy – for any mainstream success.
But that’s shortsighted, and the Warhammer 40K universe is ripe for cinematic expansion. Huge gothic space ships, space warfare with inflections of horror, and heavy metal action shouldn’t be a hard sell, and it’s easy to imagine that kind of movie or series bringing aboard a big fanbase, on top of the pre-existing one, with the right script.
On top of that, the breadth and depth of the Warhammer 40K back catalogue and the many Warhammer 40K factions means that there are endless possibilities for the types of story you can tell. Cavill could lead a science fiction movie as a scarred, battle-hardened Space Marine (he’s already big enough), or he could be the lead in a more close, atmospheric story about a devout inquisitor. If you wanted to lean into the space-opera route, the actor could even play one of the Primarchs in an adaptation of the Horus Heresy stories.
Though there are decades of lore about the Emperor of Mankind and his battle against Xenos and what not, but at its heart Warhammer 40K is simply about war. Think Star Wars, but more grim and with a few more factions – it isn’t significantly more complicated or inaccessible than Dune.
If it were done right, and especially with Cavill at the helm with his passion and his international appeal, it’s not hard to see how a Warhammer 40K movie or TV series could be the next big thing, if only there were a studio with the courage to give it a shot. Cavill wants it, we want it, and it has enormous potential.
So, in the grim darkness of the future there is only a Henry Cavill Warhammer 40K movie. Or at least, there would be if there was any justice.
Want to learn more about the 40K universe? Check out this guide to what is Warhammer 40K. Or, if you still want more Henry Cavill, check out our guides to The Witcher season 3, Man of Steel 2, and Enola Holmes 3.