One of the most anticipated films of 2012, The Avengers brings together a gaggle of super-heroes introduced (or re-introduced) to audiences over the last three years in their own movies. There is a lot to keep track of, so we are continuing our “boot camp” with the ultimate super-hero wrangler Nick Fury.
Like Black Widow and Hawkeye, we don’t have much to go on in the Avengers film series for Nick Fury. So we shall take a look back at his comic book history. Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in 1963, Nicholas Joseph Fury is born in Clinton, New York to a World War I pilot father. Nick Fury follows in his father’s footsteps, becoming a legendary Word War II hero. He leads a racially and ethnically integrated special force dubbed the “Howling Commandos” who occasionally work alongside Captain America and his friend Bucky. A grenade damages Fury’s eye, and with no medicine to treat the wound, his eye is permanently damaged. When Fury is wounded in a landmine explosion, he is “rescued” by Professor Bethrold Sternberg. Sternberg uses Fury as a test subject for his “Infinity Formula,” retarding Fury’s aging process. However, this means Fury must inject himself regularly with the serum to stay alive. Sternberg eventually spends several decades extorting Fury for money in exchange for the formula.
During the last years of the war, Fury joins the CIA precursor Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and is selected by Tony Stark to be the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (stay tuned for an upcoming boot camp on that organization). Fury recruits numerous former Howlers to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and Captain America is taken out of suspended animation and he and Fury revive their friendship.
At some point a few years after Fury’s introduction, he underwent a transition to a more James Bond like “super spy” appearance.
What would a comic book hero be without a death? A brainwashed Punisher who believes Fury is responsible for the murder of his family, kills Fury. Then the “is this a soap opera or a comic book” twist- wait for it- it wasn’t Fury that Punisher killed, it was an advanced Life Model Decoy android. The real Fury soon discovers S.H.I.E.L.D. has been taken over from the inside with other Life Model Androids who have also taken the identities of his friends and allies. Now Fury has had his ups and he has had his downs. He’s gone underground from disgrace, but when it came to saving S.H.I.E.L.D., he has made it clear the organization and its purpose are his only priority.
Fury allows S.H.I.E.L.D. to disband, eventually rebuilding it as a smaller unit he can closely monitor and partners with super-heroes he can trust. Fury grows S.H.I.E.L.D. into a powerful organization that reaches into national governments and has allegiances with several super-hero groups including the Avengers. Fury also becomes the middleman when super-heroes need government information.
Fury is the only “33rd-degree” S.H.I.E.L.D. agent; he is the only member to know the existence of all 28 covert global bases, secretly providing the Anti-Registration super-hero faction in the superhuman civil war with bases where they can band together without worrying about the Pro-Registration discovering them.
In a very brief nutshell for a drawn out Thor/Fury storyline- Captain America summons Fury and his Avengers to help Thor during the Siege of Asgard. Loki actually attempts to help Fury but Loki is killed.
Like all super-heroes, as the times change and new writers come and go, there is an origin story change. Ultimate Nick Fury comes on the radar and he is modeled after Samuel L. Jackson, prior to his acceptance of any role in the Marvel Avengers’ film series. Depending on what you read, either Jackson pre-approved this or it was a surprise and the impetus for him to seek the role of Nick Fury.
Ultimate Nick Fury was still in World War II, but he and a few comrades were looting a house when American military police arrived to arrest them. Fury was imprisoned in an unknown location along with other African American men. Fury was elected to be the next text subject for Project Rebirth. Fury was injected with a serum that gave him super-strength. He used the strength to free himself and the other prisoners and they all escaped. The scientists let him escape deciding they had all the information they needed at the time.
Fury is assigned to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Weapon X program in the original Gulf War. He is with the team transporting Wolverine and he and the mutant are the only survivors of an ambush. Fury and Wolverine develope a bond after the experience. Fury is summarily promoted to General and resumes the duties of the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and alternately with Captain America, leads his super-hero teams into battle.
Fury is no nonsense, persistent man. He is a hero and his work and country mean everything to him.
- Nick Fury lost his right arm in a battle against the Liberators and it is claimed he replaced it with a bionic one.
- Some storylines/incarnations have had Fury’s eye patch over the right eye.
- Without Mary Jane’s interference, he could have wreaked havoc on Peter Parker’s spidey powers, taking them away.
- Fury’s own brother is the villain Scorpio. Later, Mikel, Fury’s son, uses the Scorpio identity too.
- There is an upcoming Nick Fury movie in the works. Samuel Jackson is apparently under contract to play the character in nine movies.
You. Don’t. Mess. With. Samuel. L. Jackson. Super-heroes are not my favorite comic book fodder and I was not 100% up on Nick Fury, but I knew enough to get chills when he showed up at the end of the first Iron Man movie. The Nick Fury role has become Jackson and not the other way around. It is like Fury was not around until Samuel embodied the character. Kudos to the casting on this one.
I honestly cannot think of another actor who could believably try to wrangle Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and The Hulk on the big screen. Jackson plays a stern Fury, playing his cards close to the vest. And he excels at a demeanor that reads “I could be joking with you or I could be about to end your world right now.” It would also seem that he knows the weakness of each super-hero, resulting in the right threat or vague put down or flattery to get them motivated to fight his fight.
I expect the same cryptic cajoling from Nick Fury in The Avengers but I am also expecting Fury to get a chance to physically join in the fight at some point.