The Past Week: The Man From UNCLE, Guardians of the Galaxy, James Bond
Although there has been plenty of good news for members of assorted fandoms during the past week, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. With the release of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s understandable (if no less unfortunate) that many missed on the tragic news that a very big, very storied, franchise lost a small but no less memorable part of itself with the passing of a veteran character actor. This column will, of course, delve into this untimely event, but for now, let’s take a look at what excited us.
Pre-Production Work Begins On The Man From Uncle Sequel
In a world of Avengers‘ and Rogue One‘s, it might be hard to pay much attention to its Man From UNCLE‘s. Although the 2015 spy film didn’t quite inspire the loyal following that either Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe have, the film was a nice throwback to the time and sensibility of the 1960’s TV series it was based on and entertaining for what it was worth. And while the film’s box office performance of $109.8 million worldwide is nothing to sniff at, it’s a far cry from the runaway success that studios demand from such franchise-oriented properties, casting doubt on the possibility of a follow-up film.
Yet against all odds, it appears that some of the first film’s alums have endeavored to get a sequel made, with the first movie’s Lionel Wigram resuming his writing duties for the planned movie. Apparently, Armie Hammer approached both Wigram and director Guy Ritchie about making another film, demonstrating that there is still interest in the property amongst those who made it. Whether Warner Bros. will give the go-ahead to the project is another matter, but this should give hope to those holding out for a Man From Uncle 2.
James Gunn Interested In Making Guardians Of The Galaxy Christmas Special
There’s good news and bad news regarding Guardians of the Galaxy. The good news is that director James Gunn has expressed interest in making a Christmas special featuring the heroes from the Marvel space opera series. Granted, he didn’t confirm that such a project was happening, but the fact that he is willing to go public with such plans speaks volumes about how much confidence he has in the possibility of them coming to fruition.
The bad news is that Gunn has said he would draw inspiration from a most dubious source: the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. Of course, the director was quick to clarify that he would borrow from the positive memory of the event he had as a child rather than the bizarre, cringeworthy reality that it actually was, but Disney‘s (which owns both Marvel AND Star Wars) involvement, as well as the nature of any such special, could potentially lead to a bowdlerizing of the property and sap it of those novel, edgy qualities that made Guardians so interesting in the first place.
James Bond Supporting Actor Clifton James Dies
It goes without saying that what separates EON Productions‘ James Bond franchise from other spy-based properties is the colorful characters that populate its constituent films. From villains and henchmen like Richard Kiel’s Jaws, Christopher Lee‘s Francisco Scaramanga, and Donald Pleasance’s (or, depending on which movie you’re watching, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, or Christoph Waltz‘s) Ernst Stavro Blofeld to (in)famous Bond girls like Dr. No‘s Ursula Andress, Goldfinger‘s Honor Blackman, and The Living Daylights‘ Maryam d’Abo, the supporting characters are just as important to the series as 007 himself is.
So this weekend was especially unfortunate for Bond fans as Clifton James, who played the role of Sheriff J.W. Pepperidge in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, passed away yesterday at the age of 96. In addition to appearing in the long-running spy series, James also played Southern lawmen in such projects as Cool Hand Luke, Superman II, and The Dukes of Hazzard and had an uncredited cameo in Brian de Palma‘s The Untouchables as a District Attorney. If you feel like paying tribute to him, why not consider popping in one of his movies this Sunday evening?