Pros and cons of an U.N.C.L.E. movie

An U.N.C.L.E. not happy about somebody other than Vaughn and McCallum playing Solo and Kuryakin.

An U.N.C.L.E. fan not happy about somebody other than Vaughn and McCallum playing Solo and Kuryakin.

OK, even though Warner Bros. hasn’t made an announcement, let’s say a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. becomes reality. Is that a good thing or bad thing?

The obvious answer is, “Depends on how good the movie is.” However, there is already chatter among fans. So this is an attempt to summarize.

CON: It just won’t be the same without Robert Vaughn and David McCallum playing Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. True enough. James Bond fans had to make an adjustment when Sean Connery, the first screen 007, left the role. Producer Albert R. Broccoli, during filming of 1987’s The Living Daylights said each new actor hired had his own interpretation and couldn’t be expected to imitate Connery or Roger Moore. (There’s a clip of this comment in the documentary Inside The Living Daylights directed by John Cork.)

For U.N.C.L.E. fans, the question is whether Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, each of whom has said separately they’ve been hired for a movie version, can do an entertaining version of Solo and Kuryakin.

PRO: A movie could remind people about the original 1964-68 series. It’s possible. When the 1989 Batman movie came out, the 1966-68 Batman television series had a renewed surge in syndication, despite having a much lighter tone than the Tim Burton-directed movie.

In other cases (The Avengers, The Wild, Wild West and I Spy), any such visibility was short lived because the new movies (in 1998, 1999 and 2002 respectively) weren’t very good. In the case of I Spy, the 2002 comedy barely had any connection to the serious 1965-68 television show. Again, the ultimate answer depends on how good and/or popular (which aren’t necessarily the same thing) the U.N.C.L.E. movie proves to be.

PRO: If done well and relatively soon, it could be entertaining diversion for Bond fans waiting for Bond 24, which probably won’t be out until 2015. The critical part of that statement is its first six words. As an added bonus, there’d be an Ian Fleming connection since the author co-created (with executive producer Norman Felton) the Solo character while Sam Rolfe pretty much created everything else.

In short, the pros and cons depend on how good a move Warner Bros. and director Guy Ritchie come up with.