Ode to the original Nick Fury

Less than two weeks from now, the “summer” film season gets started with The Avengers, a super hero epic that has been building since 2008’s Iron Man. One of the major characters is Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, who heads up SHIELD, the organization responsible for assembling the super hero team.

Jim Steranko's cover for Strange Tales No. 167


The movie, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, will probably be a big hit. We thought we’d pause now to bring up the subject of the original Nick Fury, who won’t be seen in The Avengers.

HMSS did a more extended look at Nick Fury IN THIS ARTICLE IN 2000. Wikipedia has an even more detailed look at the character you can view by CLICKING HERE.

Quick summary: Nick was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 as the title character of the World War II comic Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. Shortly thereafter, Nick showed up in “the present day” in the Fantastic Four as a CIA agent, establishing that he survived his wartime adventures. With the ’60s spy boom, Lee and Kirby started Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1965 as part of the Strange Tales comic book. To use a James Bond reference, Fury was a combination of Bond *and* M — he ran the organization and he was its best operative.

The SHIELD version of Nick hit his stride in the late ’60s in stories written and drawn by Jim Steranko. Steranko more than once made a tip of the cap to 007. In Strange Tales No. 164, for example, the Sean Connery version of Bond has a one-panel cameo trying to enter a SHIELD entrance disguised as a barber shop. “Take it easy, chum!” Connery/Bond says. “You act like I’m an enemy spy!”

The Steranko tales were particularly fantastic, with Steranko’s intricate art being one of the attractions. But the spy boom ran its course and so did Nick Fury (who got his own title in 1968). He’s hung around in the Marvel universe and there were periodic attempts to revive the character.

At one point, Marvel started its “Ultimate” line of titles, featuring, in effect, an alternate universe version of familar Marvel characters. The Nick Fury in this universe was based on, well, Samuel L. Jackson. Wikipedia has a separate entry on this version of Nick Fury, which you can view by CLICKING HERE.

Thus, in 2008, when Iron Man came out, the “Ultimate” version of Nick Fury (played by, well, Samuel L. Jackson) made a surprise appearance in a short epilogue that appeared after the movie’s end titles. Thus it’s the “Ultimate” version of Fury, rather than the Lee-Kirby original (who enjoyed his peak popularity with Steranko) who’s in The Avengers.

It’s understandable how this came about. Samuel L. Jackson is a big star and, truth be told, much of the general population never heard of Nick Fury before the Jackson version of Nick showed up in Iron Man (not to mention Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America). The original Fury’s one moment in the sun was a 1998 TV movie with David Hasselhoff as Nick. Such is life. But we wanted to make note of the original version of Fury ahead of the big blockbuster movie.

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3 Responses

  1. Never seen so far the David Hasselhof incarnation ( has it been released in DvD ? ) . Hate Samuel L.Jackon’s version .

  2. Thank you for shedding a much needed light on one of my favorite characters. It’s a shame this long storied hero, vetran of several comic book titles, and hundreds of issues, dating back as far as 1963, had that all tossed aside in favor of a version of the character who appeared in a single issue of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe back in 2001.

    Good page about Nick Fury, here:

    http://www.comicbookmovie.com/nick_fury/news/?a=34867

    James

  3. Ironically, the Howling Commandos were portrayed fairly faithfully in last year’s Captain America movie.

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