‘The Man From UNCLE’ Should Have Been a Henry Cavill Franchise, Why Is That?

Forget James Bond! We want more Napoleon Solo!

Although opinions diverge drastically on the quality of the films that he was in, Henry Cavill is generally regarded as having been a decent Superman. Some may have enjoyed Zack Snyder’s moody, pessimistic take on the iconic character more than others, but Cavill perfectly captured the inherent goodness that defines the “Man of Tomorrow.” Cavill’s run as Superman was handled messily by the studio, and now that chapter of his career is closed, with Dylan Corenswet set to play Clark Kent in James Gunn‘s upcoming reboot Superman. The former star of The Witcher is currently commanding the screen in the star-studded The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. However, there’s another potential franchise that Cavill tried to launch that he was even better in. The reboot of the classic spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E showed that Cavill was a charismatic leading man who deserved to lead a fun, action-packed series of summer blockbusters.

What Makes Henry Cavill a Great Spy in Guy Ritchie’s Movie?

The project had been in development for years before Guy Ritchie decided to tackle the classic buddy adventure. While Ritchie is often a filmmaker that embraces modern techniques, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. has a very classical approach to the espionage genre. It’s slick and stylized but features more cheeky humor and charm than anything that the Snyder-verse ever came close to. Cavill stars as Napoleon Solo, the slick World War II veteran turned CIA agent who is forced to work with the Russian KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). Their countries are forced to make a brief pact of peace in order to stop a group of Nazi sympathizers from causing a nuclear crisis.

It’s no surprise why Cavill’s name is thrown around so frequently for the role of James Bond or why he’s lending his talents to projects like Argylle, as his natural physique and winning smile embody the charisma that defines the classic romanticized spy. However, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. allowed Cavill to not only show off his charismatic nature but show a comedic side that few Man of Steel viewers would have realized he had given that film’s gloomy tone. It’s the type of performance that immediately announces that Cavill could do something different, and the film wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if it wasn’t for his energetic performance. Sadly, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s box office performance prevented it from ever becoming the franchise that it should have been.

Henry Cavill Embraces the Chaotic Spy World

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

One of the issues with Snyder’s depiction of Superman is that he simply projected themes onto the character instead of building the audience’s relationship with Cavill himself. Here, Cavill essentially invites the audience into the world of espionage as he narrates his plan to the mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) within the opening few moments. Every explanation of his gadgets or plan is layered with a joke or double entendre, revealing that Solo seems to enjoy his work as much as possible. This nuance is a lot of fun, but it showed that Cavill was willing to lean into the cleverness of the scene that hints at the brief backstory we’re given about Solo. We later learn that he was caught smuggling weapons after the war and avoided jail time by taking up his old profession of spycraft.

Cavill’s confidence is the perfect way to kick off the film; he’s smart enough to fit within the snappy tone of Ritchie’s best movies, but when he makes a few critical mistakes, he also gives us hilarious reactions. Solo can’t help but react with personal disappointment or a nod of confusion if any of his gadgets screw up or if his Russian pursuer gets any closer. While there’s a performative quality to the way that Solo presents his self-image, there’s also a good deal of personal ego that gets him into more than a few embarrassing scenarios.

Henry Cavill and Alicia Vikander Have a Unique Dynamic in ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

Image via Warner Bros.

The biggest issue with the film is, unfortunately, Cavill’s counterpart; beyond Hammer’s egregious off-screen behavior, his broad depiction of a constantly furious Russian force of nature sticks out as the one character that edges into being a caricature and lacks the delicate self-awareness that makes Cavill so great. Ironically, this only makes everything that Solo does to annoy his new partner even funnier, as Cavill proves that he has a knack for physical comedy. Even his subtle physical movements and confident stroll seem to set off Kuryakin, and it’s hilarious to watch Solo make all of their interactions as uncomfortable as possible.

However, Cavill’s relationship with Vikander onscreen is quite interesting. Although Solo is a womanizer, he doesn’t try to flirt with Gaby or distract her from her mission. The two have a good rapport, and there’s a sign of respect he shows to the young woman that he’s forced into the world of spycraft. She has to learn about her father’s past and the secret conflicts behind closed doors, and Solo thankfully gives her room to adjust. His confidence actually is needed when he’s showing her how to survive, as she realizes that he has the experience to justify his bold statements. If there was an outcry for Cavill to play Bond, it’s nice to see that he got to play a slightly more progressive version of a world-class spy.

‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ Should’ve Started a Franchise

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. delicately plays around with the limits of a PG-13, constantly hinting at the lure of violence or sexual content, but never edging too close to being explicit. It’s reflective of how the original series was subjected to television censors, and there’s a humorously old-fashioned manner to Cavill’s delivery that evokes comparisons to classic spy films. When he flirts with a staffer at the luxury hotel he’s staying at, he emphasizes every double entendre so that what he’s actually saying couldn’t be more clear while also being obfuscated. Similarly, Cavill never lets us forget that we’re still watching an assassin; his casual quips after dispatching the extremists that pursue him are darkly funny.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ends with an obvious plug for a sequel, teasing that this triumvirate of Solo, Kuryakin, and Gaby would be off on another adventure together in Istanbul. Sadly, all plans for a sequel were essentially scrapped as a result of the film’s box office under performance in a summer that also included Ant-ManInside OutMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Straight Outta Compton. Although plans for a sequel were developed, the possibility of another installment now seems even more unlikely given the allegations surrounding Hammer. It would certainly be great to see Cavill, Ritchie, and Vikander return with another actor cast in Hammer’s place (perhaps Vikander’s husband, Michael Fassbender?), but that doesn’t seem like it’s a priority for Warner Brothers right now.

It’s unfortunate because Cavill showed signs that he could develop Solo even further. There’s part of his backstory that’s still unexplored, and his obsession with women and alcohol may be derived from the difficult upbringing that he alludes to. At the same time, it would simply be a blast to see Cavill playing around in different continents, quipping at different villains, and devising new complex schemes to ultimately win the day. While Cavill and Ritchie have joined forces once more with The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, it is disappointing that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. sequel hasn’t seen the light of day.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is available to rent on Prime Video in the U.S.


Related Posts

Mike Myers has shocked fans with his new look as he made a rare appearance in Hollywood… however, he also teased Austin Powers 4!

The Austin Powers star has revealed his new look!Shrek star and SNL legend, Mike Myers (60), shocked fans while revealing his new natural look during a rare appearance in Hollywood for a…

Chris Hemsworth and Netflix are officially working on Extraction 3, Joe Russo confirms that it’s 100% still happening!

Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction 3 receives exciting update from writer Joe Russo.Joe Russo recently shared that the third Extraction film is indeed moving forward. Director and writer Joe Russo recently…

Jeff Bridges has confirmed that he will take on a pivotal role in the third installment of the Tron franchise alongside Jared Leto

Jeff Bridges confirms his return to the ‘Tron’ franchise in the upcoming instalment starring Jared Leto. The digitized and dangerous world of Tron might be finally seeing a legacy…

Get ready for a fresh batch of intergalactic action! The Men in Black are back with a new mission!

New Men in Black movie in the works at Sony, according to new report.A new ‘Men in Black’ movie is reportedly in the works at Sony Pictures….

The two are said to have had a “big fight” on set…Ryan Reynolds’ patience ran out after 5 hours of waiting

The Rock fought with Ryan Reynolds on the set of Red Notice Recent reports have sent shockwaves through Hollywood, alleging a heated confrontation between Dwayne “The Rock”…

Michael Keaton has officially been voted as the number one best Batman actor of all time, voted on by thousands of DC fans…

Top 6 Batman actors ranked from worst to best by DC fansThey’re all Batman… but there can only be one at the top. Batman, the Dark Knight, the…