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Henry Cavill Movies and TV Shows: From Superhero to Secret Agent, We’ve Ranked His Best Roles

Find out which iconic role he originally lost to another actor — and what he’ll be starring in this spring

We’ll be seeing a lot of Henry Cavill this year — and luckily, he’s pretty easy on the eyes. Currently, you can catch him in theaters playing the titular role in the campy spy comedy Argylle, alongside Bryce Dallas Howard, Dua Lipa, and Sam Rockwell. And later this spring, he’ll star in another spy comedy, Guy Ritchie’s The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. In the meantime, we’re taking a look back at the best Henry Cavill movies and TV shows from the actor’s versatile career.

Born and raised in the Channel Islands, Cavill attended Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, England, where he played field hockey and rugby and performed in school plays. A celebrity encounter at school inspired him to become an actor — in 2000, the 16-year-old Cavill met Russell Crowe when the actor was filming a movie on location at Stowe.

Henry Cavill Movies and TV shows: Henry Cavill in Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)
Henry Cavill in ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout'(2018)

The following year, Cavill landed his first movie role in the drama Vendetta, then went on to appear in the 2002 historical adventure film The Count of Monte Cristo. His breakthrough came in 2007 with a leading role in the Showtime series The Tudors. And in 2013, he made his first appearance as Superman in Man of Steel — a role he reprised in five movies in the DC Extended Universe.

The Best Henry Cavill Movies and TV Shows, Ranked

Superman may be his most iconic role, but Cavill has enjoyed a versatile career over the past two decades and counting, appearing in spy capers, period dramas, a monster-hunting fantasy series, and more. Here’s a look back at his best work.

10. Stardust (2007)

In this fantasy adventure film based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, a young man named Tristan goes on a quest to retrieve a fallen star and deliver it to his love interest, Victoria, in exchange for her hand in marriage. Cavill has a small role as Victoria’s boyfriend, Humphrey, who also plans to marry her. The movie remains a beloved favorite among fantasy fans — although some Stardust fans have been shocked to realize that Cavill is the actor behind the blond, pompous Humphrey!

9. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

This comic book adaptation marked the first time Batman and Superman appeared together on screen in a live-action movie. After of the destructive final battle in Man of Steel, Batman sees Superman as a threat to humanity, and this movie pits the two superheroes against each other. But in the end (spoiler alert!) they team up to fight a far more dangerous villain. The movie fell flat with critics, earning a 29% “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes — but it’s also Cavill’s highest-grossing movie to date, bringing in more than $870 million worldwide at the box office.

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8. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

In this retro spy caper, two agents from opposing sides of the Cold War team up to take down a secret criminal organization that has a nuclear weapon. Cavill stars as CIA agent Napoleon Solo, who ultimately joins the multi-national intelligence agency United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.). While the movie was well received by critics and fans, it was a disappointment at the box office, bringing in just over $108 million worldwide on a $75 million production budget.

7. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

This swashbuckler was adapted from the 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas. Cavill, in his second movie role ever, plays the small but pivotal role of Albert Mondego, who becomes a pawn in a revenge plot against his parents. The movie garnered mostly favorable reviews from critics and helped to launch Cavill’s career. 

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6. Zach Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

In this movie — set in the aftermath of Superman’s death in Batman v Superman — Batman and Wonder Woman work together to defeat the villain Steppenwolf and save the planet. (Spoiler alert: Cavill appears because Superman is eventually resurrected.)

Originally released in 2017, Justice League was roasted by critics and considered to be a box office bomb, which inspired some fans to create a petition to release a director’s cut that reflected Zach Snyder’s original vision. The petition garnered more than 178,000 signatures, and this four-hour director’s cut was released on HBO Max in 2021, offering a stronger story and better character development, and earning a “fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes.  

5. The Tudors (2007-2010) Henry Cavill Movies and TV shows

Based on the reign of King Henry VIII, this steamy Showtime historical drama served as Cavill’s breakout role. Cavill stars as Charles Brandon, the 1st Duke of Suffolk and one of King Henry’s closest friends, in a role that lasted through all four seasons of the show. He says his love of history — and particularly his interest in Greek mythology the Roman Empire — drew him to the role and helped him prepare.

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4. Enola Holmes (2020) Henry Cavill Movies and TV shows

In this fun twist on the famed Victorian detective story, Millie Bobby Brown stars as Enola, a teenage sleuth determined to get out of her older brother Sherlock’s shadow. When the theatrical release was cancelled due to the pandemic, the movie was picked up by Netflix —  and became one of the most-watched streaming titles that year, with an estimated 76 million households watching it in the first four weeks. The lighthearted mystery was a hit with critics and fans alike, and a sequel was released in 2022. 

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3. Man of Steel (2013) Henry Cavill Movies and TV shows

Cementing his star status, Cavill landed the lead role in this Superman reboot, which tells the superhero’s origin story. But Cavill almost donned the blue bodysuit a few years earlier — he was a frontrunner for the 2006 movie Superman Returns, but ultimately lost the role to Brandon Routh. Man of Steel earned more than $667 million at the box office, and Cavill went on to play Superman in four more installments in the DC Extended Universe.

2. The Witcher (2019-2023) Henry Cavill Movies and TV shows

Cavill stars in this fantasy drama as Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter who helps to protect a princess from people who want to use her magical powers for nefarious purposes. The movie is based on a book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, which also spawned a successful video game series.

Cavill, an avid gamer, says he was obsessed with the Witcher video games — and when he heard that a movie adaptation was in the works, he called his agent every day asking about the role. However, he stepped down from the role after the show’s third season, and was replaced by Liam Hemsworth.

1. Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)

In the sixth installment of the Mission: Impossible series, Cavill stars as August Walker, a CIA assassin who teams up with Ethan Hunt to keep plutonium cores from falling into the hands of a terrorist group called the Apostles. But in a plot twist (we can’t really call it a spoiler, since it was revealed in the trailer) Walker turns out to be working with the Apostles.

A critical success and a box office smash, this action flick easily earns its place at the top of the list of Henry Cavill movies and TV shows. It received a near-perfect 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and brought in $791 million worldwide at the box office, making it the highest-grossing M:I movie to date — and proving that Cavill can play the role of villain just as deftly as he can play a beloved superhero.

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