While the highly anticipated Enola Holmes released to mostly positive reviews and appreciation for its strong feminist and political undertones, a lot of people are upset with it. The reason, however, is not Enola herself, but a very “passive" Sherlock Homes.
Die-hard fans of Sherlock Holmes have argued that the detective has been shown to have an arc completely different from Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. Sherlock’s sociopathic personality completely counters the humane detective shown here, who eventually decides to make his sister his ward.
People are also upset that Sherlock’s sleuthing skills were also underused. Enola Holmes solved the mystery of the Marquess’ family before Sherlock, which isn’t sitting well with many puritans.
While art is subjective and everyone should have their own takeaways from a film, bashing the film itself for how it treated one of its character is a little underhanded. However, there is a solid explanation, at least for the first problem.
The reason Sherlock feels very different from Doyle’s books and other cinematic adaptations, is because the film is not based on those books. The film is based on The Enola Holmes Mysteries: The Case of the Missing Marquess by American author Nancy Springer. Also what’s funny with Sherlock not being a sociopath here, is that Doyle’s estate is suing Enola Holmes and Netlflix for showing Sherlock in a more human light.
According to the estate, many of Doyle’s later Sherlock Holmes stories are not in public domain yet. These stories were written after the author lost his brother and eldest son and here, the detective shows human emotions. Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate is literally suing Enola Holmes for “copying" that and making Sherlock Holmes similar to those in the British author’s later books. So much for “legitimacy"!
Whether emotions like empathy and kindness can be copied, or even the fact that the estate did not sue the Enola Holmes novels that have existed since 2006, is another debate altogether. But now, we come to our next point, and we aren’t sure if it really needs to be explained. The film Enola Holmes is not about Sherlock.
The thing with a character like Sherlock is that there are more than enough cinematic takes on him already. Don’t get us wrong, Sherlock Holmes is one of the most fascinating characters there ever is. However, the bad thing about that is we are so used to watching the character play out the way he always does. We don’t want to see change, even it’s for the better.
The only thing that has really changed about Sherlock, throughout it’s several adaptations, is the white men that have played him. Even when he is set in a modern era, even when John Watson is now an Asian woman called Joan, Sherlock’s character in principle has remained the same.
Well, until now. And that’s not something we should resist. What’s wrong in a little change? The human side of Sherlock in this film was brought about by his sister, who has many traits like Sherlock. If that’s not an accurate depiction of siblings and allies, I don’t know what is?
Also, like we said earlier, this film isn’t about Sherlock at all. It’s about Enola Holmes and her journey of self-discovery. It is the story of the detective who might not solve the case by sitting at home and looking at a newspaper. This one has to be completely mistaken the first time, face the bullets and sees the story unfolding in front of her eyes. If Sherlock were a real person looking at Twitter, he’d be disappointed that people weren’t giving the credit his sister truly deserves.
Also let’s be honest, a lot of people expected were disappointed with a “passive" Sherlock because Henry Cavill “could’ve done much more." You know he’s not Superman in real life, right? People tried to typecast the brilliant actor and got mad because he refused to fit in a box.
But yes, maybe in the sequel, the siblings can team up an solve an epic whodunnit? Till then, let’s enjoy Enola Holmes for what it is, a story about Enola Holmes.