Waverly deliberately waited until they burned the tape to offer them positions at U.N.C.L.E. They both failed their missions and deliberately disobeyed their superiors. That's insubordination at best, and possibly treason. Waverly specificially waited until they did it to snag them to give them an incentive to join (specifically, to avoid jail time or execution). Gaby can't go home either, for that matter; she's technically a defector from East Germany.
- Or Waverly was waiting to see if they would put mindless nationalism over international peace and their own friendship. Seeing that they chose the latter, he knew they were fit for U.N.C.L.E.
Modifying but not contradicting the above, the whole operation was arranged by Waverly as an elaborate test of the fitness of Napoleon and Illya for joining U.N.C.L.E.
First off, while it's heavily implied at the end of the movie that U.N.C.L.E. is a new organization, that might be subterfuge for the benefit of unfriendly ears with listening devices. Canonically, the organization was founded shortly after World War II, with the active participation of all the members of the newborn United Nations (although it's a separate organization from the U.N.). We know that Waverly was aware of the Vinceguerra plot and has been monitoring the goings-on from the beginning - indeed, Gaby has been one of his agents for two years, and it's pretty obvious that he put her in position in East Berlin so that both Napoleon and Illya could make contact with her.
Moreover, Waverly is shown to be so powerful that he can requisition not just the services of the Royal Navy (though this, by itself, could be explained by his position with the British Secret Service) but is able to requisition the services of both Napoleon and Illya without demur from either the CIA or KGB. This is a pretty strong indication that U.N.C.L.E. not only already exists but that it commands the respect of the Great Powers to the extent that it can ask for and receive the resources it needs to carry out its operations with minimal bother.
Moving to the final near-confrontation between Napoleon and Illya over the surviving computer tape disk, the fact that Waverly and Gaby show up so soon afterwards, while the tapes are still burning in the ashtray, indicate that one of both of them were watching to see what Solo and Kuryakin would do. The most important characteristic of U.N.C.L.E. is that it's an international organization, dedicated to the welfare of the world community and to protecting it from threats that cannot be handled by individual countries or even groups of nations - while its members are certainly dedicated patriots of their respective nations, they're expected to place the good of humankind above the more narrow interests of their home countries. The computer tapes contained data on a revolutionary advancement in enriching uranium that would have enabled whichever country that got ahold of them to achieve a position of near-unchallengeable superiority in the Cold War. Part of the job of U.N.C.L.E. is precisely to prevent such destabilization of the international order. That Napoleon and Illya were able to transcend their differences not only to work together to defeat the Vinceguerras, but were able to agree that the best course of action regarding the tapes was to destroy them, provided the clinching proof to Waverly that they were the kind of agents he needed and wanted for U.N.C.L.E.
Waverly was the one who leaked to the KGB that Solo had the backup disc
As mentioned above, the existence of that information could seriously destabilize the world so Waverly would want it destroyed. Since Solo and Kuryakin have proven evenly matched it was likely that either they would kill each other or one would die and the other would at least be wounded leaving Waverly much easier path to destroying the disc. The fact that they did just that on their own
is either a pleasant surprise for him or as stated above he may have planned on it all along.
All of these predictions seem to be making Waverly into quite the Magnificent Bastard.
The Vinceguerra organization is actually a "satrapy" of Thrush.
While Thrush is never mentioned in the movie, any fan of the original series knows that it's been around since at least the 1920's. Building nuclear weapons to sell to third parties to destabilize the international order is a classic Thrush operation, and a shipbuilding company is also a perfect cover for a Thrush satrap ("satrapy", or "satrap", is the term used in the original show to refer to a particular Thrush group or unit). The political ideology of Thrush, such as it is, can pretty adequately be described as fascist, and the Vinceguerras are leaders of a neo-fascist gang in cahoots with refugee Nazis. The deadly, smart, gorgeous Victoria Vinceguerra is the perfect model of a Thrush leader of the kind that our heroes encountered so often in the original series. Finally, take note of the fact that one of the primary purposes of U.N.C.L.E. is precisely to serve as a dedicated opponent of Thrush and to work to frustrate its schemes for world domination.
Waverly is the inventor of the U.N.C.L.E. Special.
We don't see this renowned weapon before Napoleon uses it in the raid on Vinceguerra Island, and Illya uses it as well in the climactic chase scene. In the end credits, we see a quick shot of the weapon attached to Waverly's dossier in a way that suggests that he had something to do with its creation. It's possible that he brought several prototypes of the weapon along with him for a field test. Canonically, in the original series, U.N.C.L.E. used a weapon based on a Mauser pistol before the iconic Special, based on the Walther P-38, was introduced.
Gaby Teller will become U.N.C.L.E.'s tech wizard, responsible for the whiz-bang gadgets Napoleon and Illya will use later on.
We didn't see a whole lot of gadgetry in use in the movie, except for Napoleon's cutters/Illya's cutting laser, and, of course, the U.N.C.L.E. Special, but any fan of the original show will tell you that - to cite just one example - the pen communicators used by Solo and Kuryakin to communicate with HQ are nearly as iconic as the guns. Gaby is exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled not just with vehicles but with all sorts of mechanical and electronic devices. While the end credits show Gaby going into the field with Waverly, Napoleon and Illya for the "adventure in Istanbul"
, it's fairly likely that she'll end up being permanently assigned to HQ to take charge of the shops and labs where the United Network Command comes up with its astonishing devices, possibly after being injured during the "adventure in Istanbul" or some other mission.
This film takes place in the James Bond universe
Aside from Fleming coming up with the name Napoleon Solo, and George Lazenby appearing as a tuxedo-clad, Aston Martin driving spy named "JB" in the 1980s reunion movie, this film has a few Bond tie-ins. Illya beats up a petty, presumably evil Italian named Count Lippi at one point, hospitalizing him. Count Lippe was a minor villain in the James Bond book and film Thunderball (the book being published a year before this film is set), who is introduced at a health spa recovering. And at the film's end, UNCLE's first official mission is in Istanbul
, the setting of the James Bond story From Russia with Love
. The timeline matches up with that film's release and apparent setting. Who's to say that Bond, Solo, and Kuryakin aren't all running around at the same time?
- By extension, it must take place in the same universe as The Avengers, since we know Steed and Bond went to school together. M is colloquially referred to as Mother, while the head of the Security and Intelligence Committee (i.e., Garet Mallory in Skyfall) is called Father, thus inspiring the head of foreign cooperation office to take the name "UNCLE".
Gaby is much like Illya's mother.
It's mentioned that Illya has an Oedipus Complex
and he is shown to become quite attached to Gaby.
Victoria seduced Alexander Vinciguerra.
Victoria says that Napoleon is not the first man who's fallen for the charms of a pretty young woman and the camera focuses on Alexander.