The Man From U.N.C.LE.
“Do you mind? This thing is spies only.” © Warner Bros

This week finally saw the release of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (see our review), aka what Guy Ritchie’s been working on in lieu of the promised third Sherlock Holmes movie.

So instead of working on a movie about a mismatched duo of bros who try to save the world, he gives us…a movie about a mismatched duo of spies who try to save the world. Alright then.

But I kid. Despite the lukewarm reviews from the critics, I really enjoyed U.N.C.L.E. It had just the right amount of ridiculousness that I didn’t care about gaping holes in the plot or that all the leads were basically putting on accents that weren’t their own. It was fun and entertaining and I can’t wait for the eventual sequel.

Then I realised that there was something about that hilariously constipated look of Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) that really reminded me  of Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: First Class. It bugged me so much, I had to Google it. And it soon became apparent why.

"Hey, I like your outfit." "Thanks man, you too."
“Hey, I like your outfit.”
“Thanks man, you too.”

Did all 60s Eastern European badasses have to wear the same uniform of black turtleneck, brown jacket and grey pants? Because really, it’s like they took Fassbender’s costume, altered it, and then put it on Hammer.

On second thought, Kuryakin and Magneto have a lot in common. They’ve both had troubled childhoods which manifested into serious anger and impulse control issues. They both love chess, and they seem to have a disturbing propensity for drowning while chasing after Nazis.

X-Men First Class
If you’ve seen U.N.C.L.E., you know why this scene came to mind.

That got me thinking about the similarities between U.N.C.L.E. and First Class. Both movies take place within a year of each other — First Class in 1962 and U.N.C.L.E. in 1963 — and deal with the issue of an imminent nuclear threat, so it was inevitable that Matthew Vaughn and Guy Ritchie would draw on the same period references for the look of their respective films.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering why both movies seem to have been shot with the same Instagram filter, it’s because they had the same director of photography John Mathieson, who also did some excellent work with Gladiator)

Upon further inspection, even the characters of both movies seem similar.

Using your feminine wiles to help you in your spy work? How original.
Using your feminine wiles to help you in your spy work? How original.

Plucky brunette spy with fantastic hair who uses her feminine wiles to distract men while undercover? Check.

This town ain't big enough for the both of us.
This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.

Blonde ice queen who dresses in monochromatic clothes and who really should tone down on the eyeliner? Check.

Hi, I'd like to apply for the job of hairstylist for these two.
Hi, I’d like to apply for the job of running my fingers through their hair.

Flirty male lead with blue eyes, hair to die for, and the ability to talk their way out of almost any situation? Check. (Okay, this one might be a bit of a stretch.)

Seriously though, it’s lucky that young Charles Xavier and Napoleon Solo ooze so much smarmy charm that no one really seems to care that they use the most suspect pick-up lines ever.

I don’t really think it’s a case of one movie copying the other, though. The plots themselves are different enough, and both franchises are successful in their own right. I just think that the one thing that could’ve improved U.N.C.L.E. was Fassbender brooding all over the place in a three-piece suit.

Then again, I’m not sure if Hammer would approve.

Anyone else had a major case of déjà vu while watching U.N.C.L.E.? Think we’re looking too much into things? Tell us in the comments! 

  • Gandalf_Red_Nose

    What a pointless and lousy article.