U.N.C.L.E. movie changes Solo’s back story a bit

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo

ShortList.com has published a feature story on actor Henry Cavill that indicates The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie changes Napoleon Solo’s back story a bit.

In the original 1964-68 series, Solo had served in Korea under a Col. Morgan and had joined U.N.C.L.E. by 1954. In THE SHORTLIST STORY, there’s this passage:

Cavill’s character in The Man From UNCLE is Napoleon Solo. Or, ‘the one played by Robert Vaughn’ for those of us who spent childhood Saturday teatimes being entertained by TV repeats – always featuring men in roll necks – from this strange, colourful decade our parents banged on about. Solo, a postwar art thief-turned-Cold War agent, is the dapper playboy – who Cavill describes as “an arsehole with a heart” – working alongside Soviet spying machine Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer in the film, David McCallum when it was on TV). It’s Solo’s look that inspired the shoot. Cavill likes this. (emphasis added)

In the movie’s trailer that went online last month, there was a passing reference to Solo being a thief. There may be additional Solo back story in the movie. There’s a young Napoleon Solo character in it, but no details have come out about that.

It was already known that the movie made one other major change: that U.N.C.L.E. didn’t exist in 1963 (the year the film is set), whereupon in the show it had been operating for some time.

When is it time for 007 actors, or fans, to ‘move on’?

John Cleese and Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day

John Cleese and Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day

John Cleese, who appeared in two James Bond movies, has let it be known he doesn’t think that highly of 007 films since he departed the series.

Cleese is promoting a new book, but his association with Bond (in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough and 2002’s Die Another Day) keeps coming up in stories run by DIGITAL SPY SHORTLIST.COM and DEN OF GEEK among other websites.

Here’s an example of what Cleese has said. It’s from ShortList.com, and these comments have been picked up by other sites.

I didn’t see [Skyfall], because I have criticisms of the new Bond movies. Two things went wrong: the plots became so impossibly obscure that even professional writers couldn’t figure out what they were about; and the action scenes, which are supposed to make the adrenaline run, go on far too long. They discovered these movies were popular in places such as the Philippines and South Korea, and so they dropped the humour because no one there is going to understand jokes about the English class system. They’re financially incredibly clever, as the take goes up by $100m every movie, but one of the great things I’ve learnt in the last few years is just how much money spoils everything.

Cleese made some similar comments in June in a RADIO TIMES interview.

In turn, some 007 fans on social media have reacted by saying Cleese is bitter because he wasn’t included in the Daniel Craig reboot, starting with 2006’s Casino Royale, he should “just move on,” or simply “shut up.” Skyfall was a billion-dollar blockbuster, Casino Royale and Skyfall got some of the best reviews of the series, etc.

Of course, if you spend enough time on social media or 007 message boards or other spots on the Internet, you’ll see fans debate things going back 30, 40, almost 50 years. For example, many still don’t like how 1967’s You Only Live Twice jettisoned the plot of Ian Fleming’s novel. Some still strongly criticize the performances of Roger Moore, who hasn’t made a Bond movie since 1985. Some feel the movies went wrong in the early 1970s when the humor element increased. And so on and so forth.

A few questions: When is it time to move on? Ten years? Twenty? Longer? If Cleese should move on, should fans do so as well? Are Cleese’s complaints substantially different than the complaints fan air on the Internet? Where’s the line between being a devoted fan and taking things too seriously?

The answers are going to vary from fan to fan, of course. But Cleese has, probably unintentionally, given something for fans to think about.