Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Preview Post - NICK FURY: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Dru and David abandon superheroes this week to take a look at Marvel’s roughest and toughest hero, the super spy Nick Fury in the 1998 made-for-TV film Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Nick Fury is the creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, though his initial appearance was a tad bit different than the super spy we know and love. Originally, Nick Fury first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos in 1963, a World War II-set combat title following Nick Fury and his team as they battle the Nazis. 

A hit, it would only be a few months later that Nick Fury would pop up in the contemporary Marvel universe in The Fantastic Four #21 as a C.I.A. agent, this time with his iconic eye-patch. Fury would finally be associated with the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization a few months after that, acting as a top secret agent in the battle against the terrorist organization HYDRA. Originally, the S.H.I.E.L.D. acronym stood for “Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division”, before more recently being altered to the “Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate”.

While the modern Fury’s stories were initially started by Lee and Kirby in Strange Tales #135, stories which established most of the major elements of S.H.I.E.L.D., from its mission to the technology they use, starting with issue 151 writer and illustrator Jim Steranko took over the creative duties on the book, launching what would become one of the most influential runs not only in terms of the character, but in terms of the medium itself. With his innovative art style and storytelling technique, Steranko has influenced an entire generation of readers and future comic creators with his work. The success of these stories would lead to the short lived Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. comic, which was eventually cancelled when Steranko left the title.

Both Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. would continue on in the Marvel Universe, playing major roles in dealing with Marvel’s superhero characters, as well as becoming active participants in most of Marvel’s major crossover events in the past decade. These days, however, Fury no longer acts as a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., but instead has gone underground, leading the Secret Warriors, a group made up of super powered individuals and ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

Perhaps the most famous recent event in the history of the character, however, was his reinvention as part of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, an alternative line of comics which follows a darker and (relatively) more grounded version of the Marvel universe designed to attract new readers by ditching years of continuity and starting from scratch. Instead of being Italian American, Ultimate Nick Fury is African American, with his look modeled after actor Samuel L. Jackson. A General in this universe, Fury still leads the secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D., which in addition to its regular security duties, takes a more active interest in the superhumans of this universe. This interest leads to the formation of the Ultimates, Ultimate Marvel’s version of the Avengers, a narrative thread which has become central to Marvel's cinematic universe in the lead up to The Avengers.

Prior to the 1990s, Fury did not appear outside of the comics. This changed with the various Marvel animated series which began to appear during the 1990s, with the character making appearances in Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. In all three series, the character is voiced by the late Philip Abbott (and later on, Jack Angel) and based on the original version of Nick Fury.

The character would again appear in Spider-Man Unlimited in a brief cameo at the start of the series, voiced in this instance by Mark Gibbon:

The character would again reappear in the early 2000s animated series X-Men Evolution, voiced by Highlander: The Series star Jim Byrnes:

The character would make his next animated series appearance in the short lived but acclaimed Wolverine and the X-Men. The appearance of Fury in this version is a merging together of the original version of Fury and his Ultimate Marvel counterpart. A similar merging of the two versions of the character takes place in the recent animated series Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes. In both cases, he is voiced by Alex Désert, who co-starred on the 1990s Flash television series:

Versions of Nick Fury modeled entirely on the Ultimate Comics version of the character have appeared in two animated series, The Marvel Super Hero Squad Show and the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, where he will be voiced by Chi McBride:

But without question, the most famous adaptation of the character is in the Marvel Studios films, where the character is played by Samuel L. Jackson, as God (or, in this case, Mark Millar) intended. The character will be appearing in the upcoming film The Avengers, bringing the major Marvel heroes together into one dysfunctional group:

Still, before there was Sam Jackson, there was a little 1998 TV movie starring the one, the only, David Hasselhoff. The film is written by David Goyer, the screenwriter who has perhaps written more comic book adaptations than anyone on this Earth, with credits including Blade, Blade II, Blade Trinity, The Crow: City of Angels, the upcoming Man of Steel, and a little film known as Batman Begins:

The film is directed by Ron Hardy, who has worked primarily in television, directing episodes of The X-Files, Dollhouse, and The Mentalist.

So join us on our next episode as we take a trip back to the 1990s with Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Below is the trailer, though to be honest, I cannot tell if this is an original trailer or a fan made one, given how it has been edited:

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