The Training In 'The Witcher' Cinematic Universe Makes Zero Sense
I’m a big enough man to admit when I was wrong. When that awful first picture of Henry Cavill as Geralt was first released and forced me, at gunpoint, to say that The Witcher series will fail, my (coerced) prediction was (through no fault of my own) totally wrong. The Netflix show turned out awesome, and between all the violence and cursing, it excellently translated the basics of Polish culture from the books onto the small screen. Great job all around.
But the show is not done growing, having recently done some worldbuilding with the Nightmare of the Wolf animated film about the origins of Vesemir and the fall of Kaer Morhen, the once-great Witcher stronghold. The movie was, in an onomatopoeia, squeeeeeeeal. It was super dark, it fleshed out an already badass character, and it really took advantage of its medium with gorgeous animation and extra-badass fight scenes. Unfortunately, one of those scenes kind of made the Witchers look like a bunch of idiots.
In the movie, which is officially part of the Cavill Witcher-verse, we see the young Vesemir and a bunch of new Witcher recruits being abandoned in a swamp literally one day after arriving at Kaer Morhen. There, all but two of the boys are killed by wraiths, ghouls, and things that kind of look like those cockroach dogs from Infinity Train. Quick question, though: what in the ever-loving poop was the point of the test?
It sure as hell wasn’t to separate the weak from the strong because Vesemir survived Murder Swamp by sheer luck. The wraiths that initially attacked him and his friend can teleport and puree a person like a human smoothie in the blink of an eye … and Vesemir did absolutely eff all to protect himself from them. He was just fortunate that the monsters attacked the other boys first, giving him time to escape. He did kill one ghoul in the process, but, again, his survival was like 99.99% luck. That’s why the Murder Swamp trial is NOT in the books. (You know what IS in the books, though? A reference to the weirdest Grimm’s fairy tale ever.)
The novels and short stories make it clear that to become a Witcher, you just need to pass the Trial of Grasses, where you will be pumped full of mutagenic steroids and magic until you gain superhuman abilities that’d actually let you survive Murder Swamp. And even then, most Witchers would additionally pump themselves up to the gills with dragon meth or whatever to take on that many monsters. Maybe the real reason people in this world hate Witchers isn’t because they are “unnatural mutants” but because they essentially perform child sacrifices without getting anything cool in return, like the ability to come up with awesome wordplay like “Bitcher” (solid gold!)
The rest of the movie is amazing, and you should definitely watch it. But be warned that when you get to the part where the head Witcher grumbles about their numbers dwindling, you will remember the stupid Murder Swamp test and suddenly feel as much sympathy for him as for someone complaining about being wet as they keep pissing against the wind.
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Top Image: Netflix