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.


7 Responses

  1. There are no cons the way I see it, only pros. If the movie is terrible, like The Avengers or Wild Wild West, it won’t erase the show that came before it. In all likelihood, it will be forgotten in a few years. The Avengers movie is pretty much completely forgotten nowadays, but at the time the exposure it created was responsible for A&E releasing the original show on VHS and ultimately DVD, which was a great thing and introduced a new generation of fans to the real Steed and Mrs. Peel. I suppose the real worst case would be a Mission: Impossible situation, where it’s actually a big hit, but does something awful to alter public perception of a main character and in that way possibly denigrate the original. I was mad about that for years, but I’ve gotten over it by now, and the M:I movie franchise has moved closer to the show over the years. So even in that worst case scenario, a popular movie would likely lead to a franchise, wherein each new entry is a new roll of the dice and another chance for happy results.

    Those are the bad options. If the movie is good, then we’ll have brand new U.N.C.L.E. adventures to look forward to, and possibly even new merchandise and ancillary media as well! New comic books? New novels? Who knows! Furthermore, we’ll have a new spy franchise to look forward to every couple of years, ideally, as you point out, filling the gap between Bond movies!

    I say bring it on.

  2. Hollywood needs to leave iconic things alone. Any U.N.C.L.E. movie will be bad. Just because a different actor said the words, “Bond…James Bond” does not make him James Bond. Also, when Rolfe originated the series, Kuryakin was not supposed to be in much, if at all. McCallum had NOTHING given to him except what the writers wrote. Kuryakin is completely HIS creation. The walk, the squint due to McCallum having a bad right eye, EVERY PART was McCallum. So how can someone else do Kuryakin? It’s possible to use the name…but it will not be Kuryakin. I would say the same thing with Vaughn as Solo. If you read Vaughn’s autobiography it could have been written by Solo…the women, the drinking, fighting the world’s injustice with his anti-Vietnam stance. His hanging out with prominent people in politics. His style, his boyish playfulness…I think Hammer and Cavill are too good looking and too perfect, as well. Illya was that skinny little fellow and Solo was often times clumsy. We loved that they were human superheros. I am totally against this movie and I hope it bombs!

  3. The new TMFU movie will be tailored made for these two actors or whomever they hire to play the parts. The old series was done during the Cold War and must be updated to the War on Terrorism. So if they want to stay in the progressive pattern by having a Russian working for an American spy organization, they might change the character to an Arab instead. With all due respect, the old series is so dated in production value that I find it hard to watch nowadays. It is still an interesting time capsule, but the new production is going to need a new look and a great script to compete for the audience’s dollars.

  4. A good period piece movie could be made about the establishment of UNCLE and the beginning of the partnership between Solo and Kuryakin.
    THRUSH forces the West and East into reluctant alliance; our two heroes, as the first contact point between the two sides, become friends in spite of mutual distrust.
    The original series didn’t explore that aspect much. It could be interesting.
    As to whether Guy Ritchie (or any of the previous contenders) are the right people to make THAT movie – that’s open to question.

  5. I fully agree with second commentator. WB should create some new heroes as a leading film company. Do not touch our iconic heroes.
    UNCLE serieswas a great creation at the time which will be remembered forever! Why can’t WB create something great for the 21 century? WB should hire someone more creative and clever personnel.

  6. NO ONE ELSE can take on the roles of Napoleon and Illya and do them justice. Make a movie with Vaughn and McCallum in their roles as should be, wherein they have jointly taken on the responsibilities of Alexander Waverly. As they play off of each other, introduce new agents and perhaps Solo and Kuryakin still end up saving the day.

  7. […] Pros and cons of an U.N.C.L.E. movie (June 9, 2013). […]

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