The first trailer for Netflix’s Witcher show has finally been unveiled, and fans are in a frenzy. Some people are so hyped that they’ve been launched into the stratosphere, and others are having more mixed opinions. As for Insert Gamer, we fall in the camp of “cautiously optimistic.”
But whether you love it or hate it, there’s certainly a lot to unpack here. As someone who invested far too much of my life into The Witcher 3, I was all too eager to jump into the trailer and dissect all its little details. Let’s take a look at some of the important revelations from this teaser, and what they might mean for the series as a whole.
Yeah, It’s Definitely Based On the Books
So, this isn’t exactly new knowledge, as it has been confirmed on multiple occasions by the producers. But with this teaser, we can conclude that this is, without question, based on the Witcher books — not the games.
For the uninitiated, it’s important to know that the Witcher games were based on a series of Polish books. But it was the Witcher video games that gained mainstream popularity, not the books, so that’s the image that most people have for the series. The show is strictly adapting the books, so it’s important to know some differences between the books and the games, because some of them are pretty significant. Throughout the rest of this post, we’ll point out those differences as they come.
Yennefer Is Getting Her Book Backstory
Yennefer is one of the major characters of both the books and the video games, so it’s no surprise that she was a major focal point of the trailer. But Book Yennefer is a little different from Game Yennefer, and it’s apparent from the trailer that they’re depicting the former.
Yennefer Used to Be Malformed: Here’s a fun fact about Yennefer — she used to be a hunchback. In the Witcher-verse, most sorceresses were once ugly or deformed, and they made themselves beautiful and perpetually youthful through magic. If you saw several shots where Yennefer looked, uh, a little off, it just means that they’re staying true to this essential part of her backstory. She doesn’t quite look hunchbacked, but the spirit of the story is still there.
This Yennefer Looks Younger: Yennefer’s age is of little consequence because she uses magic to keep herself youthful. In reality, she’s actually well into her 90s! But many fans have noted that she looks a lot younger in the trailer. Well, as it turns out, there’s a book passage which suggests that Yennefer maintains the appearance of a woman in her early 20s. So even though we all love the sultry, older Yennefer in the Witcher 3, the show version doesn’t stray far from canon.
We’re Probably Going to See ‘The Butcher of Blaviken’
Anyone who has played the Witcher games knows well that Geralt is well-known by another monicker — “The Butcher of Blaviken.” Well, it looks like we might actually see the infamous event that gave Geralt this name.
In the first shot of the trailer, we see a bloodied Geralt walking through a semi-crowded town, and a little later, there’s a brief shot of a fight scene which seems to be in the same location. It’s highly likely that this is indeed Blaviken, where Geralt earns his nickname by slaying a crew of bandits in front of the whole town. This is an event which occurs in the books proper, so it’s almost certain that it’s something that will be directly depicted in the show, and I’m pretty sure we’re looking at it.
Those Aren’t Elves, They’re Dryads
Elves play a relatively important role in various Witcher lore, and the trailer directly name-drops them early on as it focuses on a shot of Ciri in a mystical-looking forest surrounded by mystical-looking people. Based on the editing of the trailer, it’s easy to assume that these are elves, but it’s far more likely that they’re Dryads.
The most telltale detail are the rounded ears, instead of the characteristic pointy elf ears. The environment is also telling — Dryads make their home in exotic forests. But, more importantly, Book Ciri has a lengthy run-in with Dryads, and that’s most likely what we’re looking at here.
There Aren’t a Ton of Monsters
Even though we got that sweet shot of a juiced-up Geralt about to go ham on a giant arachnid, many fans have pointed out that there is a notable lack of monsters in this trailer. They’re not wrong. And, shouldn’t we be seeing a lot more of those since the entire purpose of Witchers is to slay monsters?
Well, not exactly. The video games had to make certain concessions to make the world more compatible with the medium, and this included adding a ton of monsters. In the book universe, Geralt doesn’t fight exotic beasts quite as often, but when he does, you can bet it’s going to be a memorable sequence. The monsters definitely play a big role in the books, but it’s not like the game where they’re just crawling all over the place.
This stays true to the books, and it’s also more practical from a show standpoint — monsters of the Witcher-verse will be very demanding to the show’s budget. I’m sure that there are still some scary beasties we still haven’t seen, and they will no doubt be an important part of the show, but it’s safe to assume that the narrative will be focusing more on the human conflicts.
Triss Shows Up For a Second
Did you know that Triss is in the trailer for a moment, and you may not have even noticed? We wouldn’t blame you — unlike Geralt and Yennefer, there are some visual differences between Show Triss and Game Triss.
Game Triss is immediately recognizable by her trademark double buns and bright red hair, but these were mostly game inventions. In the books, the buns aren’t really mentioned, and she’s described as having freckles and chestnut hair. Show Triss doesn’t really betray this description. Her hairstyle and darker skin may be a departure from the version of Triss that players are used to, but her appearance, overall, doesn’t contradict the books in any major way.
The other thing that players should know is that Triss’s role was MUCH smaller in the books. In fact, she’s not even present during the events that are being covered by the show. Her inclusion, then, was probably inspired by her popularity from the video games. While it’s an interesting inclusion, I wouldn’t count on Triss playing a very big role in this first season.
We’re Looking at Pre-Kaer Morhen Ciri
While we’re talking about Triss’s visual differences between the books and games, we might as well take a moment to talk about Ciri as well. Ciri, quite obviously, isn’t the badass, grown-up woman that you’re used to in The Witcher III. In fact, what if we told you that she was never grown up in the books at all?
Because the games are a continuation of the book stories, they take place some years afterward, and in that time, certain characters grow up. This culminates into Ciri’s adult appearance. That’s the version of Ciri that most people are used to, but it’s actually the exception rather than the rule.
This version of Ciri is probably going to be in her early to mid-teenage years, and her story this season will likely be the events which lead her to meet Geralt. It’s possible that her story could lead her all the way to her tutelage at Kaer Morhen, but if I were a betting man, I’d say that’s probably Season Two material.
Geralt’s Missing His Cat Eyes
One of the most obvious disparities between Show Geralt and Book Geralt is the eyes. In this trailer, Geralt’s eyes look relatively normal, right? Surely, this is an injustice because Geralt, like, definitely has cat eyes, right?
Yes and no. It turns out that Geralt’s eyes are yet another invention by CDPR. The book does agree with certain facts — Witchers do go through an agonizing mutation process, and they do gain superior traits such as their improved eyesight. But the books merely mention that Geralt can dilate or contract his pupils at will, and they actually never directly state his eye color. So Geralt’s cat eyes aren’t untrue to his description in the book, they’re just a particularly bold interpretation of it.
The show, it seems, is aiming for something more subtle. With how difficult contacts can be, I don’t blame them. It’s not unprecedented, either. In Game of Thrones, Daenerys was supposed to have violet eyes, but they decided to go with Emilia Clarke’s natural color due to the hassle of contact lenses.
Netflix Is Trying to Make This Their Game of Thrones
One thing that was apparent from the trailer is that Netflix is pulling out the stops for this show. In any fantasy production, comparisons to Game of Thrones are inevitable, and my immediate impression is that they’re trying to rekindle that magic. The Witcher looks to be attempting to compete with Thrones (or rather, absorb its fans since the show has ended), and this seems evident from its worldbuilding and its budget.
Fun fact about Game of Thrones: in the first season, we didn’t see any major battle scenes, because GoT, at the time, was an unknown quantity and they didn’t have the budget to justify a large-scale medieval skirmish. Meanwhile, in the Witcher trailer, we’re already seeing what appears to be an entire army descending into battle.
But budget isn’t the only factor — this trailer was not nearly as Geralt-centric as many people may have expected. We see countless different characters, factions, and plotlines implicated in just this small teaser, and Geralt just appears to be one of many players. This, of course, is similar to how the books play out. Game of Thrones popularized the idea of a complex multi-character narrative, and it’s fairly clear that The Witcher show wants to capitalize on that type of storytelling.
Henry Cavill is Exquisite
Finally, let’s just give some respect where it’s due, yeah? Feel free to disagree, but it’s this writer’s opinion that Cavill was about as perfect a casting choice as you could get. He seems to toe the line well between Book Geralt and Game Geralt, and that scene where he’s decocted in the end definitely sent some shivers down my spine.
While I never had any doubts about Cavill’s casting, this trailer has affirmed to me that they made the overwhelmingly right choice, and it’s even more exciting knowing that he is an avid Witcher fan who’s devoted to doing the character justice.
It’s possible that this show could suck. Though I’m pretty optimistic in this post, I’m not without my concerns, and there are certainly some red flags (a blog post for another day). But overall, the positive feelings I have outweigh the negative ones, and more than anything, I’m excited to see where this goes.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any thoughts on the Netflix Witcher trailer? Be sure to let us know in the comments!