Warner Bros. have today released the first official image from Guy Ritchie’s big screen adaptation of ’60s TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., with super spies Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) and Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) relaxing with a drink and looking a little dinged up with a few cuts and bruises.
Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) centres on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology.
The original series ran for four seasons (105 episodes) between 1964-1968 with Robert Vaughan as Solo and David McCallum as Kuryakin, the series achieved such cultural prominence that props, costumes and documents, and a video clip are in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’s exhibit on spies and counterspies. Similar U.N.C.L.E. exhibits are in the museums of the Central Intelligence Agency and other US agencies and organizations gathering intelligence.
U.N.C.L.E.’s adversary was THRUSH (WASP in the pilot movie). The original series never divulged what THRUSH represented, but in several U.N.C.L.E. novels by David McDaniel, it is the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity, described as founded by Col. Sebastian Moran after the death of Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls in the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Final Problem”.
THRUSH’s aim was to conquer the world. Napoleon Solo said, in “The Green Opal Affair”, “THRUSH believes in the two-party system — the masters and the slaves,” and in the pilot episode (“The Vulcan Affair”), THRUSH “kills people the way people kill flies — a reflex action — a flick of the wrist.” So dangerous was THRUSH that governments — even those ideologically opposed, such as the United States and the USSR — had cooperated in formating and operating U.N.C.L.E. Similarly, when Solo and Kuryakin held opposing political views, the friction between them in the story was held to a minimum.
Though executive producer Norman Felton and Ian Fleming conceived Napoleon Solo, it was producer Sam Rolfe created the U.N.C.L.E. hierarchy. Unlike national organizations like the CIA and James Bond’s MI6, U.N.C.L.E. was a global organization of agents from many countries and cultures. Illya Kuryakin was created by Rolfe as just such an agent, from the Soviet Union.
The creators decided an innocent character would be featured in each episode, giving the audience someone with whom to identify.Despite many changes over four seasons, “innocence” remained a constant — from a suburban housewife in the pilot, “The Vulcan Affair” (film version: To Trap a Spy) to those kidnapped in the final episode, “The Seven Wonders of the World Affair”.
In the new film versionthe duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.
It will be released on August 14, 2015.