Mendes says Skyfall is `darker than usual’

Skyfall director Sam Mendes is quoted by an Italian publication as saying the 23rd James Bond movie is “darker than usual.”

Skyfall director Sam Mendes

The comment appeared in La Repubblica. When you run the story through Google Translate, it comes out like this:

“Although the script is original, we’ve told the writers, telling them to be guided by the irony and the spirit of Fleming’s novels,” said Mendes. “If I agreed to shoot Bond is because I believe that it is now possible to make a film of escape, fun, but at the same time tell us something about the world in which we live. And to do that you have characters believable and human. And actors like Daniel Craig, who has given to 007 humanity that I had never seen in the Bond of the past. Bond again seems a real man in real situations. I recalled how I felt when I saw the films of Sean Connery. Skyfall is even a bit darker than usual.”

What to make of this? Who knows?

Back at Skyfall’s early November press conference, Mendes talked about how he liked Live And Let Die, hardly a dark film. Now he’s talking up the Sean Connery movies. At the same press conference, producer Michael G. Wilson said no change in direction for Skyfall, then later talked about Skyfall having a feel like Goldfinger, a more escapist movie than Quantum of Solace.

The Skyfall principals have told other reporters there will be more humor in Skyfall. The most recent example? An April 23 story in The Washington Post, quoting star Daniel Craig. Now Mendes says “darker than usual.”

If you accept the principals at their word, Skyfall is escapist fun AND a film with a message about the way we live. It’s got more humor AND it’s “going to move people a little.” (another Craig quote at the end of the Washington Post story). We’ll see.

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.