Andy B’s Take: Will The Real Nick Fury Please Stand Up?

This morning Samuel L. Jackson was making headlines all around the geek world with the news that he may not be playing Nick Fury in the forthcoming Iron Man 2, let alone the upcoming Avengers film in which one would imagine his character would have a huge role. Jackson told the L.A. Times:

“There was a huge kind of negotiation that broke down. I don’t know. Maybe I won’t be Nick Fury. Maybe somebody else will be Nick Fury or maybe Nick Fury won’t be in it. There seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world so [they’re saying to me], ‘We’re not making that deal.'”

Marvel reportedly stated that they don’t comment on “active” negotiations, which means that Sam vacating Fury’s eyepatch is far from a sure thing.

My first reaction when hearing this admittedly juicy piece of geek gossip was “no, they can’t! How could they? Samuel Jackson is Nick Fury! Show him the money!” But after a few moments thought, I managed to get over myself pretty quickly. Here’s my way of thinking.

First thing’s first. While Jackson did play Nick Fury in the first Iron Man flick, his brief appearance was limited to an end credit cameo that I guarantee you a huge chunk of the audience missed out on in theatres. In fact, the scene seems to have been considered so unimportant in the grand scheme of things that it wasn’t included in preview screenings of Iron Man that ran at midnight shows on release day. So while the scene was indeed cool for those of us that either knew it was coming or simply know how the character is essayed in the Ultimates world, the character’s appearance clearly wasn’t so core that it needed to be in the film.

Speaking of the Ultimates, that is indeed where the version of Nick Fury that appears in Iron Man comes from. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch wrote the contemporary retelling of the Avengers mythology with carte blanche, creating a character that was indeed patterned on Sam Jackson. So there’s your extra cool points right there – Jackson appearing on screen as the character that’s recent incarnation was based on him. But guess what – this version of Nick Fury has been around for less than a decade, and is far from the definitive take on the character that originated in the Marvel Universe 50 odd years ago. There’s some fundamental differences between the two versions, which I’m sure you can clearly pick up on.

Both iterations of Nick Fury in the comics are cool, but the regular Marvel Universe Fury has a lot of history behind him and his recent reemergence during the company wide Secret Invasion crossover has once more put him at the forefront of comics. Should Marvel Studios choose not to go with Samuel L. Jackson’s take on Nick Fury, there’s no reason Fury can’t and won’t be included in any Iron Man or any of the other films on the studio’s docket.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I think Marvel should bring back Jackson, and give him a sweet deal in the process. If things go according to the studio’s plan, we’re going to be seeing a lot of crossovers and Jackson the actor would be a great lynchpin for them. As well, Iron Man 2 has already recast one actor, with Don Cheadle taking over for Terrence Howard as James Rhodes (which in my mind is a huge improvement as far as I’m concerned. I look forward to Rhodey having some balls now). Had Fury played a bigger role in the first Iron Man, I’d think another casting change would be problematic. But 30 seconds of screen time does not a character make.

Ultimately, should it happen, I doubt the loss of Samuel L. Jackson will have much impact as geek culture would likely want the rest of the world to believe. The character of Nick Fury is bigger than one actor. He survived David Hasselhoff after all.

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