By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 18, 2013 at 8:28PM
We've been over this ground before, so we'll make it brief. Once set to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, with George Clooney attached to star, the helmer bailed on Warner Bros. "The Man From From U.N.C.L.E." in the fall of 2011, after an impasse over casting (among other things). Clooney wasn't able to take the role, so the studio decided to eye someone younger (which is something they wanted all along anyway), with names like Bradley Cooper, Joel Edgerton and Ryan Gosling tossed around. Soderbergh's choices were either Michael Fassbender or Joel Kinnaman, gambles at the time, but in hindsight look pretty smart, but regardless, he moved on. About a month later, Guy Ritchie took over the project and then pretty much radio silence... until now...
Tom Cruise is in early talks to the lead in the movie, and while WB may have wanted someone young before, when it comes to Cruise you can go ahead and throw out those plans. However, the actor is yet to prove that his 'Ghost Protocol' box office wasn't just an anomaly. "Jack Reacher" underperformed — though Deadline says it might have made just enough for Paramount to go with a sequel — and "Oblivion" remains a question mark. Regardless, he's still a major international draw, and another spy series would be some serious bait. The word on the street is that talks started with Cruise after "All You Need Is Kill" with Doug Liman wrapped, suggesting the movie is pleasing top brass. But we can't imagine Parmaount will be overly thrilled with Cruise taking on something that on the surface level bears some resemble to his gig as Ethan Hunt.
It remains to be seen what the story will be. Scott Z. Burns recently revealed that the take he had developed with Soderbergh would've centered on the 1966 Palomares B-52 crash, and make ample use of the time period. What the approach from Ritchie will be isn't known just yet. So, is Cruise the right Napolean Solo? And more importantly, if he does take it, who is going to take the part of Illya Kuryakin?