- Argylle, the spy film starring Henry Cavill, had a poor opening weekend, debuting with only $35.3 million globally.
- Cavill's exit from the role of Superman was a blow to his career, as he needed a big film to prove himself outside of the DCEU.
- The failure of Argylle adds fuel to the criticism that Cavill is not the star he and his fans think he is.
Argylle, the $200 million plus spy film by Matthew Vaughn, should have boosted Henry Cavill’s career after the actor was let go as Superman by James Gunn and Warner. Unfortunately, the movie had a poor opening weekend, debuting with a measly $35.3 million global total.
Big Hopes and Crushing Disappointments
Cavill and Superman fans were dealt a massive blow when his contract with Warner to continue as Superman wasn’t renewed. How could Warner be so blind and refuse to work with Cavill on future projects, especially the much-desired Man of Steel sequel? Fans were desperate for Cavill to return to the role and continue as Superman. The actor was seen as the best performer to star as Superman since the days of Christopher Reeve. It was mindboggling why a studio would think it better to continue without the actor. It hurt many fans that Cavill was out, and that someone else would have the honour of donning the Superman suit in his place.
There were such high hopes that we would get another Man of Steel or Justice League movie somewhere. The criticism Cavill and Zack Snyder faced for Man of Steel felt unfair, and the negative press around the DCEU and Man of Steel, in particular, obscured the fantastic job Cavill did playing Clark Kent and Superman. For many of us, the hope of getting Man of Steel II was seen as an antidote to the negativity and bias toward Cavill and the original film.
There was lingering hope that a second movie would allow Superman to embrace those elements within his character that leaned more into the hopeful and uplifting themes most casual fans are familiar with. At last, we would see Christopher Reeves’ Superman blend with Cavill’s modern version. Sadly, this version did not materialize, and hope was lost.
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Cavill’s exit from the role of Superman was a severe dent in his career. The actor needed a big film after Man of Steel, something which has been evading him for over a decade. He needed to prove that he could star in films that did well apart from his tenure in the DCEU. The Black Adam debacle was another major misstep. Dwayne, ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s film adaptation of the classic DC comic book character was meant to show Warner executives that Cavill could carry the DCEU and that his Superman was still relevant for current audiences.
Fans went wild when Henry Cavill cameoed as Superman, and they rallied around the character like never before, confident in the knowledge that a new Superman film was finally on its way. To our horror, Black Adam died at the box office, snuffing out any chances for Cavill and Man of Steel II. Warner executives may have been concocting Cavill’s exit long before Black Adam, but the film’s dismal box office run was just the pretext they needed to show that Cavill needed to be replaced.
Without Superman to keep him tethered to the Hollywood highroads, Cavill desperately needed another major hit. Argylle seemed like the sort of role that would keep his profile flying high and further his chances of starring in a future Bond film. There have been voices whispering that Cavill was box office poison and that the actor is not the star he nor his fans think he is. Unfortunately, Argylle’s failure adds fuel to the fire, giving them the reason they need to feel vindicated.
Lost Without Man of Steel?
Cavill’s only prominent roles outside of the DCEU these last few years have been his performance as Geralt in The Witcher, and he is no longer attached to the role, which is another blow. The other is starring alongside Millie Bobby Brown, where he played Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s Enola Holmes. Without The Witcher and Man of Steel, Cavill needed another film that would boost his profile and restore his chances of being at the top of the pile of Hollywood’s leading men. Henry Cavill was not the main lead in Argylle, which has an ensemble cast, but he stood out as the lead nonetheless.
Apple’s expensive spy film is a disaster, failing to excite critics and cinema-goers. Despite starring Cavill, Dua Lipa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Sam Rockwell, the film crashed and burned. The box office and critical damage it suffered were precisely the opposite of what Cavill needed. The actor needed to break free from Man of Steel and the DCEU and prove to his critics that he could draw audiences. The whispers that he has an extensive online fanbase but very few genuine followers in the real world were given a significant boost with Argylle’s disappointment.
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Recipe for Disaster
Strictly speaking, Cavill should have avoided this film like the plague. The script was suspect, and the marketing was lacking. Cavill may have been looking to keep things light and funny by starring in the film, but appearing as a villain with that bizarre hairdo was not what he needed so soon after he left the role of Superman.
He should have starred in something less unconventional at this point. Argylle’s plot confused audiences based on the trailer alone: a cat in a bag, an author writing a book where her story comes to life, and Henry Cavill’s bizarre hairstyle. All this was too much for general audiences. Was this a comedy or an action film? It seemed too weird to be a fun, simple action comedy in the spy genre.
On the other hand, Matthew Vaughn lost much of his lustre, especially after the poor critical showing of 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The King’s Man (2021). Apple was looking to break into the theatre market and couldn’t have been happier to have secured the talents of Vaughn, who gave us great films like X-Men: First Class and Kingsman: The Secret Service. However, they ignored Argylle’s poor script and Vaughn’s diminished creative output, which has been in question for some time. Instead of giving the director the green light, more thought should have gone into making the film and whether he should direct it. Argylle, unfortunately, has put a stain on both Vaughn and Cavill’s resumes.
Cavill has another redeeming moment on the horizon with Guy Ritchie’s The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare in April this year. The film has received plenty of buzz, and there has been great excitement since the first trailer was released. Cavill stars in the lead, and there are high hopes it will do well and give the actor the break he needs. Cavill is a great talent, but he needs to show that he is not lost without Man of Steel. Let’s hope… No, let’s cross our fingers that Guy Ritchie’s film will be the picture to prove it.
What do you think about Argylle, and is Henry Cavill lost without his Man of Steel role?