Current Mood: busy
I have been following all the news about the new movie avidly I've also been reading Bill K's speculations on the HMSS blog.
I really don't have a problem with an origin story. Most folks who will come to this movie haven't a clue about what U.N.C.L.E. was [my students certainly wouldn't] And the concept of U.N.C.L.E. ---spies ---of all people! --- working together is a novel one, even for today. Not just novel, but I'd argue revolutionary. Norman and Sam were prescient in looking ahead to a post-Cold War world in which the real threat was global terrorism further fueled by elitists with resources and money who were after power. I watch the news these days and I think 'Thrush' all the time.
That said, some younger folks who didn't live through the Cold War would have a hard time grasping the the fantasy of an American and a Soviet working together [Didn't those US and the USSR want to bomb each other? they'll think] others will not understand the overall significance [and American and a Russian? So what?] Still others may see it in light of the Snowden case.
So an origin story that explains the political situation of the time and the revolutionary idea of and American and a Soviet working together and someone [Waverly?] putting together a global initiative that rose above petty politics seems like a good idea to me. It will capture audiences' imaginations as it did ours back in the day. Further, it will eliminate any misperceptions that apparently still linger that Illya was somehow a defector. Even fans misinterpreted this because the TV show could not spell it out and some paperback writers didn't see or read through the development notes. An origin story will eliminate any misperceptions.
And as I've pointed out previously, even though the filmmakers need pay no attention to fanfic [and presumably they won't if only to avoid lawsuits] anyone embarking on an an in-depth exploration of an U.N.C.L.E. universe will eventually find themselves having to describe the origins and include a 'first meeting' story. I know this happened to me. I know it wasn't necessary back in 1960s TV, but storytelling in movies and especially, because of cable TV, is more serial, and so it's a necessary part of the creative process today.
So, I admit to being actually encouraged by the reports and details I'm hearing. It seems the filmmakers are taking some care and they're not just making one knock-off and taking the money and running as they did with Wild Wild West and others. This is obviously meant to be a franchise and they seem to understand a potentially valuable one.
As Craig Henderson has pointed out over the years, it's wasn't Trek. It was MFU that came first. My book, which was just published, argues that case.
So perhaps, finally, MFU will be counted among the other huge more modern franchises ---Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter and the like ---and take it's rightful place in modern popular culture.