Wait, what? Really?

Henry Cavill

Supposedly, a sequel to the 2015 movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is in development, according to a website called Giant Freakin Robot. (Giant Freakin Robot?)

Cavill, who turns 40 in June, has departed various film franchises. He was once Superman but is no longer. He was once the star of the streaming series The Witcher but is no longer.

U.N.C.L.E. didn’t catch on when it was released in August 2015. Normally, that would be it.

Yet, this is an excerpt from the latest article:

 Through our trusted and proven sources, we can report that The Man from U.N.C.L.E 2 is being developed with Henry Cavill returning in the main role. Guy Ritchie is also returning to write and direct the sequel, though we are sure Armie Hammer will not be in it.

Armie Hammer, who played Illya Kuryakin in the 2015 movie, has endured, shall we say, various controversies that have stalled his acting career.

For now, color the blog skeptical. Maybe something will happen. Then again, it may be another chapter in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse.

Henry Cavill: The U.N.C.L.E. footnote

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (as devised by the late Paul Baack)

There has been plenty of coverage how Henry Cavill is being retired as Superman. Some James Bond fans still hold out (the fading) hope the 39-year-old Cavill could still be cast as James Bond. But that may be a long shot at this point.

Meanwhile, this week, the Collider website published an article that The Man From U.N.C.LE. was “the Henry Cavill franchise that should have been.”

Background: Cavill was a late casting as Napoleon Solo for the U.N.C.L.E. movie (filmed in the fall of 2013, but not released until August 2015).

Until Cavill came aboard, the filmmakers envisioned an older Solo paired with a younger Illya Kuryakin. Armie Hammer was cast as Illya first. Eventually, Guy Ritchie took over the project and his first choice was Brad Pitt as an older Solo. For a time, Tom Cruise was in the picture, but he went back to Paramount’s Mission: Impossible franchise.

When Cavill was cast as Solo, the concept of the original series was re-established: Two leads of about the same age.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie was not a financial success. It divided fans of the original 1964-68 television series. Some loved it. Others despised it, saying it was U.N.C.L.E. in name only.

Regardless, there is a “what could have been” vibe associated with all this. We’ll likely never know what could have been.

Bond 26 questions: The Henry Cavill edition

Henry Cavill

It turns out that Henry Cavill isn’t playing Superman anymore. The actor has quit The Witcher streaming show on Netflix. So does Cavill re-enter the picture to play James Bond in Bond 26?

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Is Cavill back in the picture?

I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Much has been made how Cavill, now 39, was in contention to play Bond for Casino Royale back when he was in his early 20s.

However, we know that Eon boss Barbara Broccoli was always keen on Daniel Craig playing Bond. While there were screen tests of other actors (including Cavill), they were stalking horses to show Sony/Columbia (which would release Casino Royale) that it wasn’t a one-horse race. Except, it was a one-horse race from almost the beginning.

What about the Pierce Brosnan precedent? Eon *had* signed Brosnan in the 1980s to play Bond. But the actor’s ties to the Remington Steele TV show got in the way when NBC renewed the series at the last minute. Eon would bring Brosnan back to play Bond for GoldenEye (1995).

Eon *has never* shown that level of commitment to Cavill.

Are you skeptical that Cavill had a chance this time?

Yes.

A few years ago, the conventional wisdom was Eon wouldn’t go back to Cavill because he had played Superman and appeared in spy movies (The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in 2015 and Mission: Impossible Fallout in 2018).

Now, it could be updated by saying Cavill is damaged goods by Warner Bros. rejecting him participating in future Superman movies. And don’t forget The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie had modest box office.

Lately, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon have talked about how a future Bond actor should be younger. Then again, Daniel Craig was 37 when cast and his first Bond movie came out when he was 38.

As usual, we’ll see.

Cavill out as Superman, DC, actor announce

Henry Cavill leaves Superman role

Henry Cavill no longer is the Man of Steel, DC/Warner Bros. said, with the actor confirming the news.

James Gunn, co-head of Warner Bros. DC Films, said on Twitter that he’s writing a new Superman film “focusing on an earlier part of Superman’s life, so the character will not be played by Henry Cavill.”

Cavill, 39, had a cameo as Superman in the recent Black Adam movie and the actor then made a public announcement he was back.

Cavill said on Instagram he had been told by the studio to make the announcement in October. Then Gunn and his fellow co-head, Peter Safran, took command of DC Films effective Nov. 1. Cavill said he was told by Gunn and Safran a change was underway.

“The changing of the guard is something that happens,” Cavill said.

Gunn said in another tweet that he and Safran “had a great meeting with Henry and we’re big fans and we talked about a number of exciting possibilities to work together in the future.”

The Hollywood Reporter said earlier this month that Cavill’s return as Superman was in doubt. Gunn, who directed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies, and Safran are revamping the DC film universe.

Cavill ends his run as Superman with only one solo movie (Man of Steel in 2013) plus two other films (Batman v. Superman and Justice League) where he shared screen time with other characters. Cavill was passed over to play James Bond in the 2000s in favor of Daniel Craig for Casino Royale. And he recently quit The Witcher streaming TV show on Netflix.

Cavill back as Superman? Not so fast, THR says

Henry Cavill in Batman v Superman

Henry Cavill returning as Superman? The Hollywood Reporter, in a story about a potential big shakeup of Warner Bros./DC Comics movies, says Cavill may be out again.

THR also said a third Wonder Woman movie with Gal Gadot has been shut down and Jason Momoa’s time as Aquaman may be nearing the end.

Cavill made a cameo in the recent Black Adam movie with Dwayne Johnson and said on social media that he was back as the Man of Steel.

THR, citing people it didn’t identify, said the new bosses of DC films, James Gunn and Peter Safran, are drafting a new plan and it may not include Cavill after all. Gunn and Safran “are expected to meet next week with David Zaslav, the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO who is radically reshaping the media company,” the entertainment news outlet said.

Cavill has had, at best, mixed luck with entertainment franchises.

The actor was in his early 20s when he was passed over for the role of James Bond in favor of Daniel Craig. Now, at 39, he may on the verge of aging out. Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions has said the next Bond actor may be a “thirty-something.”

In the 2010s, Cavill won the role of Superman. But he only got one solo movie (Man of Steel in 2013) plus two other movies (Batman v. Superman and Justice League) where he shared screen time with other characters.

Cavill was cast in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. but that was one and done. The actor was in the streaming Netflix TV show The Witcher, but he departed that role.

Off-beat ideas for Bond 26 (and beyond)

One-time image for Eon’s official James Bond Twitter feed

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen various fan suggestions for Bond 26. Among the suggestions:

Bring Pierce Brosnan back for a proper farewell: Pierce Brosnan starred in four Bond movies produced by Eon Productions.

The relationship ended abruptly after 2002’s Die Another Day. Eon had gotten the film rights for Casino Royale, the first Bond novel by Ian Fleming. Brosnan was out, Daniel Craig was in, and he enjoyed (well maybe) a 15-year run.

Still, many Bond fans wonder what could have been. The argument goes that Brosnan, now 69, could come back for a one-off adventure featuring an older Bond.

Hey, what about Henry Cavill?!: Cavill, born 1983, was runner-up when Craig was cast in 2005.

In recent months, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, have suggested they want an actor who could be in place for more than a decade. Wilson, in particular, has tossed out the idea that the next Bond actor should be in his early 30s.

Cavill now is 39. He may have aged out based on Eon’s recent comments.

Should Bond 26 be lighter? That’s a popular fan theory. And in many ways it makes sense. You’ve had five really, really serious Bond films with Craig as Bond. Maybe it’s time for a change in direction.

Personally, I wouldn’t go banco on that. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli seems pretty set in her ways. She has even suggested when Bond 26 gets to the scripting stage (whenever that happens) will begin with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

As usual, we’ll see.

Henry Cavill says he’s back as Superman

Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman v Superman

Henry Cavill, 39, says he is coming back as Superman after reports in 2018 he was being forced out of the role.

Here is an excerpt from an Oct. 24 story in Variety:

Henry Cavill posted to social media on Monday that he is “back as Superman” following his cameo in the post-credits scene of “Black Adam,” which opened on Friday to $140 million worldwide.

“I wanted to wait until the weekend was over before posting this because I wanted to give you all a chance to watch ‘Black Adam,’” Cavill said in a video posted to his Instagram feed. “But now that plenty of you have, I wanted to make it official: I am back as Superman.”

Cavill, once upon a time (circa 2005), was a contender to play James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale. He received a screen test before Daniel Craig was hired.

The actor has been favored by some Bond fans to succeed Craig. He played Napoleon Solo in a 2015 movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as well as playing a villain in a 2018 Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible film.

Cavill probably is too old to be the new Bond. Also, Eon Productions (mostly) doesn’t like to cast actors associated with other franchises. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan were the most obvious exceptions.

For a time, it seemed Cavill had lost the Superman gig — which included a 2013 solo Superman movie as well as 2016’s Batman vs. Superman and 2017’s Justice League.

Never say never, it would appear.

The other Fleming 60th anniversary

Ian Fleming, drawn by Mort Drucker, from the collection of the late John Griswold.

Adapted from a 2015 post.

NEW INTRODUCTION: 2022, of course, marks the 60th anniversary of the James Bond film series. It also marks the 60th anniversary of when Ian Fleming became involved with what would become The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Fleming spent three days talking to television producer Norman Felton (born in London but who emigrated to the U.S.). The James Bond author made contributions that had an impact on the final product.

ORIGINAL POST: A Bond collector friend let us look over his photocopies of various Ian Fleming correspondence. Much of it included the 007 author’s involvement with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

First, there were photocopies of 11 Western Union telegraph blanks where Fleming in October 1962 provided ideas to U.N.C.L.E. producer Norman Felton. The first blank began with “springboards,” ideas that could be the basis for episodes.

One just reads, “Motor racing, Nurburgring.” Fleming had a similar idea for a possible James Bond television series in the 1950s. This notion was included in this year’s 007 continuation novel Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horwitz, which boasts of containing original Ian Fleming content.

On the fifth telegram blank, Fleming includes this idea about Napoleon Solo: ““Cooks own meals in rather coppery kitchen.”

Whether intentional or not, this idea saw the light of day in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie released in August. In an early scene in the film, Solo (Henry Cavill) is wearing a chef’s apron, having just prepared dinner for Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) after getting her across the Berlin Wall.

Fleming also made some other observations about Solo and the proposed series.

Telegraph blank No. 8: “He must not be too ‘UN’” and not be “sanctimonious, self righteous. He must be HUMAN above all else –- but slightly super human.”

Telegraph blank No. 11: “In my mind, producing scripts & camera will *make* this series. The plots will be secondary.”

Ian Fleming notes, written on one of 11 telegram blanks, and given to Norman Felton

On May 8, 1963, the Ashley-Steiner agency sends a letter to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which includes details about Fleming’s financial demands for being a participant in U.N.C.L.E.

“He definitely wants to be involved in the series itself if there is a sale and is asking for a mutual commitment for story lines on the basis of two out of each 13 programs at a fee of $2500.00 per story outline,” according to the letter.

Fleming also wants a fee of $25,000 to be a consultant for the series per television season. In that role, the author wants two trips per “production year” to travel to Los Angeles for at least two weeks each trip and for as long as four weeks each trip. The author wants to fly to LA first class and also wants a per diem on the trips of $50 a day.

On June 7, 1963, Felton sends Fleming a letter containing material devised by Sam Rolfe, the writer-producer commissioned to write the U.N.C.L.E. pilot.

“In the latter part of the material, which deals with the characterization of Napoleon Solo, you will discover that those elements which you set down during our New York visit have been retained,” Felton writes Fleming. “However, the concept for a base of operations consisting of a small office with more or less a couple of rooms has been changed to a more extensive setup.”

This refers to the U.N.C.L.E. organization that Rolfe has created in the months since the original Fleming-Felton meetings in New York.

“It will give us scope and variety whenever we need it, although as I have said, in many stories we may use very little of it,” Felton writes. “This is its virtue. Complex, but used sparingly.

“In my opinion almost all of our stories we will do little more than ‘touch base’ at a portion of the unusual headquarters in Manhattan, following which we will quickly move to other areas of the world.”

At the same time, Felton asks Fleming for additional input.

“I want the benefit of having your suggestions,” Felton writes Fleming. “Write them in the margin of the paper, on a telegraph blank or a paper towel and send them along. We are very excited, indeed, in terms of MR. SOLO.” (emphasis added)

However, Fleming — under pressure from 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman — soon signs away his rights to U.N.CL.E. for 1 British pound.

On July 8, 1963, Felton sends Fleming a brief letter. It reads in part:

Your new book, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, is delightful. I am hoping that things will calm down for you in the months to come so that in due time you will be able to develop another novel to give further pleasure to your many readers throughout the world.

They tell me that there are some islands in the Pacific where one can get away from it all. They are slightly radioactive, but for anyone with the spirit of adventure, this should be no problem.

Fleming responds on July 16, 1963.

Very many thanks for your letter and it was very pleasant to see you over here although briefly and so frustratingly for you.

Your Pacific islands sound very enticing, it would certainly be nice to see some sun as ever since you charming Americans started your long range weather forecasting we have had nothing but rain. You might ask them to lay off.

With best regards and I do hope Solo gets off the pad in due course.

RE-POST: A sample of Fleming’s U.N.C.L.E. correspondence

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

This month marks the 59th anniversary of the meetings Ian Fleming had with television producer Norman Felton. Those meetings led to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series that ran from 1964 to 1968. This is a re-post of a 2015 article.

A Bond collector friend let us look over his photocopies of various Ian Fleming correspondence. Much of it included the 007 author’s involvement with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

First, there were photocopies of 11 Western Union telegraph blanks where Fleming in October 1962 provided ideas to U.N.C.L.E. producer Norman Felton. The first blank began with “springboards,” ideas that could be the basis for episodes.

One just reads, “Motor racing, Nurburgring.” Fleming had a similar idea for a possible James Bond television series in the 1950s. This notion was included in this year’s 007 continuation novel Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horwitz, which boasts of containing original Ian Fleming content.

On the fifth telegram blank, Fleming includes this idea about Napoleon Solo: “Cooks own meals in rather coppery kitchen.”

Whether intentional or not, this idea saw the light of day in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie released in August. In an early scene in the film, Solo (Henry Cavill) is wearing a chef’s apron, having just prepared dinner for Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) after getting her across the Berlin Wall.

Fleming also made some other observations about Solo and the proposed series.

Telegraph blank No. 8: “He must not be too ‘UN’” and not be “sanctimonious, self righteous. He must be HUMAN above all else –- but slightly super human.”

Telegraph blank No. 11: “In my mind, producing scripts & camera will *make* this series. The plots will be secondary.”

On May 8, 1963, the Ashley-Steiner agency sends a letter to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which includes details about Fleming’s financial demands for being a participant in U.N.C.L.E.

“He definitely wants to be involved in the series itself if there is a sale and is asking for a mutual commitment for story lines on the basis of two out of each 13 programs at a fee of $2500.00 per story outline,” according to the letter.

Fleming also wants a fee of $25,000 to be a consultant for the series per television season. In that role, the author wants two trips per “production year” to travel to Los Angeles for at least two weeks each trip and for as long as four weeks each trip. The author wants to fly to LA first class and also wants a per diem on the trips of $50 a day.

On June 7, 1963, Felton sends Fleming a letter containing material devised by Sam Rolfe, the writer-producer commissioned to write the U.N.C.L.E. pilot.

“In the latter part of the material, which deals with the characterization of Napoleon Solo, you will discover that those elements which you set down during our New York visit have been retained,” Felton writes Fleming. “However, the concept for a base of operations consisting of a small office with more or less a couple of rooms has been changed to a more extensive setup.”

This refers to the U.N.C.L.E. organization that Rolfe has created in the months since the original Fleming-Felton meetings in New York.

“It will give us scope and variety whenever we need it, although as I have said, in many stories we may use very little of it,” Felton writes. “This is its virtue. Complex, but used sparingly.

“In my opinion almost all of our stories we will do little more than ‘touch base’ at a portion of the unusual headquarters in Manhattan, following which we will quickly move to other areas of the world.”

At the same time, Felton asks Fleming for additional input.

“I want the benefit of having your suggestions,” Felton writes Fleming. “Write them in the margin of the paper, on a telegraph blank or a paper towel and send them along. We are very excited, indeed, in terms of MR. SOLO.” (emphasis added)

However, Fleming — under pressure from 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman — soon signs away his rights to U.N.CL.E. for 1 British pound.

On July 8, 1963, Felton sends Fleming a brief letter. It reads in part:

Your new book, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, is delightful. I am hoping that things will calm down for you in the months to come so that in due time you will be able to develop another novel to give further pleasure to your many readers throughout the world.

They tell me that there are some islands in the Pacific where one can get away from it all. They are slightly radioactive, but for anyone with the spirit of adventure, this should be no problem.

Fleming responds on July 16, 1963.

Very many thanks for your letter and it was very pleasant to see you over here although briefly and so frustratingly for you.

Your Pacific islands sound very enticing, it would certainly be nice to see some sun as ever since you charming Americans started your long range weather forecasting we have had nothing but rain. You might ask them to lay off.

With best regards and I do hope Solo gets off the pad in due course.

Bond 26 questions: The ‘next iteration’ edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

No Time to Die still isn’t out but there has been some news related to Bond 26. Naturally, the blog has questions.

What do you make of recent Broccoli-Wilson comments?

In a July 6 story in The New York Times, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions spoke up in support of two current Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film executives.

“Mike and Pam understand that we are at a critical juncture and that the continuing success of the James Bond series is dependent on us getting the next iteration right and will give us the support we need to do this,” the Eon duo said in a statement of Michael De Luca, chairman of MGM’s Motion PIcture Group, and his deputy, Pamela Abdy. (emphasis added)

Until late September 2020, Broccoli wouldn’t publicly acknowledge that No Time to Die would be Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie. ““It is the fifth and final one that Daniel Craig is going to be doing,” Broccoli said on an episode of the official No Time to Die podcast that would soon go into hiatus because the movie got delayed.

Evidently, Eon likes how De Luca and Abdy are managing MGM’s film unit. But their future is uncertain with Amazon’s pending $8.45 billion acquisition of James Bond’s home studio.

Eon controls creative matters related to the cinema Bond. The Broccoli-Wilson statement looks like a strong suggestion to Amazon to not shake up MGM’s film operation when the Bond franchise is on the verge of another transition and yet another new film Bond.

Did the list of possible new film Bond actors just go down by one?

Over the past few years, entertainment outlets and websites have speculated about who might take over Craig’s shoulder holster. One name that comes up a lot is British actor Henry Cavill.

However, this week, it came out that Cavill will be in a new Matthew Vaughn-directed spy film, Argylle.

Once upon a time, when Cavill was in his early 20s, he tested for Bond. He came in behind Craig.

Since then, Cavill’s ability to anchor film franchises has been a so-so affair. He was in one solo Superman movie and appeared as the Man of Steel in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. But his future as Superman looks dicey. Cavill starred in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but that movie didn’t resonate with audiences and no additional U.N.C.L.E. films followed.

Cavill was a supporting player in a Mission: Impossible movie and has starred in a popular streaming show, The Witcher.

The actor is now 38, the same age Craig was when he was cast as Bond. But Cavill’s chances of being cast as Bond may be running out — assuming he ever had a chance in the first place. Would Eon want to cast a Bond actor who has been in two different spy movies? I wouldn’t go banco on that.