U.N.C.L.E.: what’s same, what’s different

Image that accompanied Guy Ritchie post

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

The principals of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie have spelled out in a bit more detail about what’s the same (or at least similar) and what’s different from the original 1964-68 series.

IGN.com on June 11 ran an interview originally conducted last year with co-writers/co-producers Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram as well stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. The story apparently was online for a time the day before because the Henry Cavill News site quoted IGN in a JUNE 10 POST.

Regardless, what follows is information in the interview that caught our eye.

SAME/SIMILAR: The lead characters of Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and Illya Kuryakin (Hammer).

A quote from Wigram: “The personalities of Solo and Kuryakin are inspired by the show, clearly.”

DIFFERENT: Solo’s background. It was already known that Solo is a CIA agent in the film and he had history as an art thief. Cavill expanded on that to IGN:

“My character is not a born CIA man,” the actor said. “He was very much into the black market before that and got blackmailed into the CIA… he has learned some skills, but he’s not sort of born and bred by any means.”

Meanwhile, Kuryakin’s loyalty to the Soviet Union — something the show mostly avoided addressing — is made clear in the film. Kuryakin is “a hardcore red communist, you know?” Hammer said in the interview.

SAME/SIMILAR: An attempt at a drama-humor balance. The original series itself varied, with the first two seasons mostly balancing the two, the third going overly light and the final going very serious for the most part.

” This is a piece of entertainment,” Wigram told IGN. “We’re not trying to say anything important about the meaning of life or politics or anything like that. We’re trying to have fun, without insulting anyone’s intelligence, kind of like the show.” At the same time, Wigram cited not only early James Bond films as influences but Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer movies and John Le Carre.

DIFFERENT: U.N.C.L.E.’s timeline. In the show, U.N.C.L.E. has been established for some time (Solo and Kuryakin joined it in the 1950s). The organization doesn’t exist at the start of the movie.

Wigram commented to IGN on why the filmmakers went with an origin story.

“(T)his is really the story of how the U.N.C.L.E. organisation came together,” the co-writer/co-producer said. “The television story has not told that. U.N.C.L.E. is simply a sort of United Nations of spies. You have a Russian and American working together at the height of the Cold War, but it’s never explained why, so I thought, it could be really interesting if you actually start with Napolean Solo a CIA agent and Illya Kuryakin as a KGB agent who are on opposite sides.”

To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE.

Empire magazine previews U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Empire magazine’s July issue has a preview and new stills from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

Empire itself hasn’t put the content online. However, sites including COMIC BOOK MOVIE, HENRY CAVILL NEWS and HENRY CAVILL.ORG have run scans of the stills from the magazine.

A few tidbits in the Empire story via a summary in Henry Cavill News:

–The name Thrush isn’t being used for the criminal organization opposed by Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin in the Guy Ritchie-directed film. Empire quotes co-writer Lionel Wigram as saying, “I don’t think you can say that with a straight face these days.” Instead, it’ll be a network of ex-Nazis.

–Henry Cavill comments to Empire about his Solo versus how Tom Cruise would have played the part. “Tom would clearly have been playing a very different character to mine, albeit of the same name,” Cavill told Empire. “It’s not that I was replacing Tom Cruise; it’s that the dynamic of the story changed and I happened to fit that better.”

Cruise was in talks in early 2013 to play Solo. He exited the project to star and produce Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. Cavill, who lost out for the role of James Bond in 2005 to Daniel Craig, was signed as a replacement.

–Cavill wasn’t cast as Illya Kuryakin because director Ritchie thought if the actor colored his hair blonde would look too much like Javier Bardem’s Silva villain in Skyfall. Armie Hammer go the role instead.

If you click on the links there are plot details.

WSJ on M:I and U.N.C.L.E.; new Kirby-Steranko story

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Here’s a roundup of some Other Spies developments.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has a story about making movies based on television series, specifically looking at Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

One excerpt:

Why does TV continue to inspire movie dreams?

It is partly because of the extra time and money a feature can offer filmmakers. More fundamentally, even an aged television series can provide brand-name recognition, which acts as a commercial safety net—although an unreliable one.

(snip)
For every successful adaptation, though—from “Star Trek” to “21 Jump Street”—there’s the risk of turning out “The Lone Ranger.” The 2013 film with Johnny Depp as Tonto was rejected by audiences, who were uninterested in the plot, unfamiliar with the 1950s television show and more mystified than intrigued by Mr. Depp wearing a dead-bird headdress. The film led to a nearly $200 million loss for Disney.

The story includes quotes from M:I director Christopher McQuarrie about watching the original Mission: Impossible in returns (“It was sort of iconic to me.”) and U.N.C.L.E. movie co-writer Lionel Wigram, who says Warner Bros. wasn’t “interested in a contemporary story. But we could do a ’60s spy movie that appeals to a modern audience, and is very much the zeitgeist of ‘Mad Men.’”

Nick Fury

Nick Fury

COMIC BOOK RESOURCES reports that Marvel Comics plans to run a previously unpublished Jack Kirby-Jim Steranko art in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. No. 9 coming out in August.

Here’s text from a press release in the Comic Book Resources story:

First, this August, S.H.I.E.L.D. #9 answers a question half a century in the making. A mystery that lies at the heart of the origins of S.H.I.E.L.D. – who is the “Man Called D.E.A.T.H.”?! Written by Mark Waid with art by Lee Ferguson – this special, oversized anniversary issue features a never before published S.H.I.E.L.D. sequence penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Jim Steranko! Plus – Al Ewing brings you a second story featuring the return of Dum Dum Dugan and the birth of the new Howling Commandos! Along with the very first S.H.I.E.L.D. story from 1965 and the original sequence that inspired S.H.I.E.L.D.’s creation – this is not one to miss!

Jack Kirby and Stan Lee both co-created Nick Fury (as the start of a World War II comic book) and S.H.I.E.L.D. (where an older Fury takes command of the agency). Steranko took over S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1966, first as artist and then as writer. Steranko’s early S.H.I.E.L.D. efforts had him doing finished art over breakdowns by Kirby.

Cavill says U.N.C.L.E. movie has a ‘little bit of grit’

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

Logo for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie

The Los Angeles Times has a preview of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie in which star Henry Cavill says the film has “a little bit of grit.”

Fans of the original 1964-68 series have, on occasion, expressed concern the movie might be too light, similar to the show’s third season, when the drama-humor mix got out of balance. Both Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, and Armie Hammer, who plays Illya Kuryakin, previously have said the movie’s sense of humor was an attraction to them.

In the Times story, Cavill’s full quote was: “There’s a coolness, a humor and a little bit of grit as well.” In 2013, when the movie was being filmed, Entertainment Weekly described a scene where Solo’s Cavill is attacked pretty viciously.

Here’s an excerpt from the Times story, concerning co-screenwriters Lionel Wigram and Guy Ritchie. The latter also directed the movie:

Ritchie and Wigram shared a love of early James Bond films — what Wigram called late Sean Connery/early Roger Moore — and wanted to make a spy film that returned to the glamorous era.

“People have reinvented Bond, but nobody’s gone back to the 1960s,” Wigram said.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE. The film is scheduled to released in the U.S. on Aug. 14.

Who’s in, and out, of the U.N.C.L.E. movie poster credits

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

We decided to take a look at THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. OFFICIAL WEBSITE and examined the credits that go with the teaser poster. If you go to the page, you can view them, but you have to put your cursor on the lower left where it says “Legal.”

A reminder before we go further. Credits in a poster sometimes vary from the film. With 2012’s Skyfall, for example, the poster only listed one editor, but the movie’s credits listed two, the second being listed in small type. With that in mind:

Who’s not there: The credits simply say, “Based on the Television Series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” No mention of developer Sam Rolfe, nor of Norman Felton and Ian Fleming, who came up with the character Napoleon Solo.

Vanity credits: We’re told it’s “A Witchie/Wigram Production,” “A Davis Entertainment Production,” and “A Guy Ritchie Film.”

Who gets the “p.g.a.” mark: Since mid-2013, most movies include “p.g.a.” after those considered the primary producers of the film by the Producers Guild of America.

The movie lists four producers, with John Davis (who has been involved trying to develop an U.N.C.L.E. movie since the early 1990s), Lionel Wigram and Guy Richie getting the p.g.a. mark. (It’s in lower case letters with periods to avoid confusion with the Professional Golfers’ Association, or PGA.)

Steve Clark-Hall, listed second among the four, doesn’t get the mark. David Dobkin gets an executive producer credit. In television, executive producer is supposed to be the big boss. That’s not true for movies. Regardless, Dobkin’s name was associated with the project, circa 2010.

Writing credit: “Story by Jeff Kleeman & David Campbell Wilson and Lionel Wigram & Guy Ritchie, Screenplay by Lionel Wigram & Guy Ritchie.” This was included in the teaser trailer but it goes by very quickly.

Others jobs that get credits: Composer, costume designer, editor, production designer and director of photography.

Other tidbits: According to this, the soundtrack will be available on Watertower Music.

UPDATE: U.N.C.L.E. movie writer credit changes again

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt


The IMDB.COM ENTRY for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has been changed again. The name of Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with television, video and movie credits, has been removed from the list of writers.

IMDB has gone back to the information from the official Sept. 3 Warner Bros. press release, which never mentioned Hatcher. The press release said the movie’s screenplay is by director Guy Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram.

It’s hard to say how significant this is. IMDB.com relies on input from members and it’s not certain who originally added Hatcher’s name. The final screenplay credit will be subject to Writer’s Guild rules.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: @laneyboggs2001 on Twitter advises the cast list has also been expanded to include Ben Wright, stunt double of actor Armie Hammer, as “The Unit.” Hammer played Illya Kuryakin in the film while Henry Cavill had the Napoleon Solo part.

Who’s the (not so) new writer on the U.N.C.L.E. movie?

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt


The IMDB.COM ENTRY for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lists a new name on the list of writers: Jeffrey Hatcher, a playwright with a list of a dozen television, video and movie credits.

It’s hard to consider him a “new” writer on the project given it completed production in December. Presumably, Hatcher performed his work before production commenced, but there’s simply no additional information. Also, given how entries in IMDB can change based on member input, it’s unclear the source of the information..

The official Sept. 3 Warner Bros. press release doesn’t mention Hatcher. It says the movie’s screenplay is by director Guy Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram.

It’s certainly possible the final writing credit will change before the final release because of Writer’s Guild rules. For example, it’s not known whether Sam Rolfe, who developed the original show, will get a credit the way, say, Bruce Geller, creator of Mission: Impossible, receives on M:I movies.

Hatcher’s list of IMDB credits begins with a 1998 Columbo made-for-television movie. His IMDB entry lists some of his plays.

Meanwhile, a (pretty breathless) video showed up on YouTube that provides a primer about the movie. Not a lot new, but given how the film won’t be out until January 2015, it’s presented here.