Nick Fury no more? Samuel L. Jackson says ‘Maybe I won’t be Nick Fury’

Jan. 14, 2009 | 2:14 a.m.


Samuel_l_jacksonSamuel L. Jackson, clearly bristling, said today that negotiations to put him in the role of Nick Fury have broken down because "there seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world."

Jackson told me today that despite his cameo as the hard-bitten military man at the end of "Iron Man," it now appears that "somebody else will be Nick Fury or maybe Nick Fury won’t be in it" when it comes to "Iron Man 2," "The First Avenger: Captain America" and "The Avengers," the announced slate of Marvel Studios projects through 2011 that might have a natural spot for the character.

Jackson, who is a fanboy favorite after roles in three "Star Wars" films, "The Incredibles" and "Unbreakable," was actually used as the model for the Ultimate Marvel version of Fury, which took the white, grizzled, aging commando with salt-and-pepper hair and re-imagined him as a younger, bald African American. There were cheers in theaters at the end of "Iron Man," when Jackson appeared as Fury, but when I asked the actor about it today he shook his head.

"I saw [‘Iron Man’ and ‘Iron Man 2’ director] Jon Favreau at the Scream Awards and we had a conversation. He said, ‘I hope things are working out for you because we’re writing stuff for you.’ Then all of a sudden last week I talked to my agents and manager and things aren’t really working that well."

Jackson might just have been taking a public position that could lead to a bigger payday (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a Hollywood star used an interview as a negotiating tactic) but he seemed especially sour on the whole the topic of working with Marvel …

Nick_fury"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.’"

I called Marvel Comics and they gave me a statement that suggested that they still want to see Jackson wearing the eyepatch. "Marvel does not comment on active negotiations," was the boilerplate response, but there was that emphasis on the word "active" in the voice of the spokesman who phoned me back. 

Marvel Studios only has two films under its belt, "Iron Man" (which finished as the second-highest grossing film of 2008) and "The Incredible Hulk" but executives with the Hollywood upstart have high hopes for creating a new model of unified, character-crossover films that would mirror the spirit of the Marvel Comics in the 1960s, when heroes and villains collided constantly in the various comics titles and firmed up the concept of "the Marvel Universe." One challenge to that will be keeping a good number of movie stars happy with the roles and their paychecks.

Terrence Howard, who by some reports was the first actor signed to "Iron Man" and the highest-paid actor in the cast, won’t be back for the sequel (Don Cheadle is taking his place as the key supporting character Rhodey and his alter ego War Machine) and money seems to have been part of the issue. Marvel execs essentially have to weigh each film’s budget with the calculating eye of pro-sports franchises who want marquee players but have to fit them under a team salary cap. A publicly traded company, Marvel has a stated goal of keeping shareholders happy with a rigid allegiance to the bottom line. And Marvel’s stock has held up far better than shares of most of its larger rivals over the last year. Helped by the lift from "Iron Man" in spring, Marvel Entertainment shares actually rose for the year, gaining 15% to close 2008 at $30.75. That was an amazing feat, considering that more than 90% of all U.S. stocks fell last year. By contrast, Walt Disney shares slid 30% in 2008, Viacom Inc. plunged 57% and Time Warner fell 39%.  So far this year, Marvel is down 5.5%, Disney is down 6.6%, Viacom is off 8.1% and Time Warner is down 2.5%.

Think of the challenge to Marvel to put its crossover dream on the screen: For "The Avengers," that means putting Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Edward Norton as Hulk, Cheadle, whoever plays Thor and whoever plays Captain America all in the same movie. How much room (and money) would be left for a supporting character like Jackson as Fury? Still, like I told the actor, he has a big advantage on his side: Who else wants to wear that patch, especially since the character is based on Jackson?  Jackson laughed. "Maybe nobody will wear it. Maybe they’ll decide Nick Fury won’t be part of it."

— Geoff Boucher


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Photo of Samuel L. Jackson by Francois Durand/Getty Images, Nick Fury image courtesy of Marvel.

More in: Uncategorized, Marvel, Samuel L. Jackson


39 Responses to Nick Fury no more? Samuel L. Jackson says ‘Maybe I won’t be Nick Fury’

  1. agniyo says:

    Maybe he wants a Nick Fury movie, or wants one sooner than Marvel plans? Interesting article.
    (Btw, in paragraph nine, there should be a semicolon or a period following the closed parenthesis.)

  2. Jimmy Dean says:

    Well done dude, well done! <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  3. Ike Iszany says:

    Oh darn! I guess I won't be seeing Avengers or Captain America if Jackson isn't there chewing up scenery.
    Get Hasselhoff! He at least looked like MY Nick Fury.
    (If you were going to compare a picture of Jackson to a Bryan Hitch Nick couldn't you have found a picture of Jackson that didn't make him look like a lost old man?)

  4. Star Carlton says:

    I guess Jackson is in the poor house now?? – geez – I say leave him out of the movies.

  5. Firefly says:

    Not going to miss Jackson's "Nick Fury." Although Jackson would probably fare better than a Hasselhoff version, the revisionist take on Fury in the comics was a cheap ploy to begin with. Maybe this'll be an opportunity to give us a Steranko-style Fury instead.
    Besides, Jackson already kind of played a Kirby-esque Nick Fury-type for an entire movie: it was called XXX with Vin Diesel. I doubt Jackson has enough range as an actor to differentiate his Nick Fury from that interpretation.

  6. Smitty says:

    This is very disappointing to here. Sam Jackson has a very wide range to pull this off. If the character was changed to fit Sam then I would hope Marvel and Sam would do everything they could to get this worked out. Marvel definitely won't be able to pay exuberant salaries and I hope Sam realizes that. No need for Marvel to make two mistakes though in there casting as far as how they're paying these guys.

  7. OPH says:

    Sam Jackson has disappointed me lately. (Did anyone else see "The Spirit"?). He's really not that great of an actor, imho. Here's an idea for Marval. Recast Fury, reshoot the short scene with him in Ironman, and then publicize the hell out of the decision to drop Jackson. Hollywood actors make too much money sometimes, and their egos get in the way of the the final product.

  8. Jose Uribe says:

    That last guy nailed it on the head … re-shoot the final scene in Iron Man with a different Nick Fury, then re-cast the role with a cost effective, hard working character actor who will be locked in for multiple pictures covering the entire Marvel Universe at a reasonable fee with performance bumps and escalations based on the success of the films (as long as they're reasonable and keep the films from becoming money pits).
    Welcome to the new Hollywood, assholes … and buy a copy of "Moneyball", because if you're not making great art, then this is your new paradigm.

  9. Scrabcake says:

    SO? All SJ has done is mostly schlock for paychecks for years. BFD.

  10. Matt Arado says:

    Nice article, Geoff. I always thought the idea of a Marvel Universe on film was wildly unrealistic, since it requires juggling the schedules and salaries of so many big-name actors (and, I would assume, directors). Also, I find it fascinating that Marvel Studios has already had so many tiffs with its talent; Sam Jackson, Terrence Howard, Ed Norton and even Jon Favreau have all at some time or another (reportedly) been annoyed or at least confused by the execs at Marvel Studios. I wonder if this will have an effect on the studio down the road?

  11. m4g1cbullet says:

    Marvel keeps finding a way to ruin things that aren't broken the first time around. There's a reason nobody pays for their stupid comics anymore. Pulling writers and artists from book to book, no editing, no continuity, retcon'ing everything to hype stupid crossover storylines…
    Now they feel the need to bring their special brand of stupid to movies? Yuck.

  12. Mr.X says:

    Thank God Jackson won't be Nick Fury! All this re-imagining is disrespectful to the original source and ideas! Stan Lee and the Marvel Bullpen created this characters and storylines and they have stood the test of time! Do not change or "update" them just to stroke the ego of the director, screenwriter, actor, etc!!! MAKE MINE MARVEL… or don't make it at all!

  13. Mike G says:

    Read between the lines: :"there seems to be an economic crisis in the Marvel Comics world." means "I want way more money than they are willing to pay me!"

  14. Ellen says:

    Wow. :) You guys are vicious! :) I loved the article, even without the semicolon or period in paragraph nine. :) And I can't think of a movie that Mr. Jackson was in that wasn't made better by his presence, and that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. I really hope these issues will be resolved quickly, and that we'll be seeing Mr. Jackson as Nick Fury in all of the new Marvel movies.

  15. MW says:

    Not for nothing, but if you could just call up Marvel and check up whenever, why are we all still pondering Norton's involvement in The Avengers? Ask them, PLEASE. Even if their answer is ambiguous, you gotta give us something.

  16. Phil says:

    For comic book fans, Steranko's version of Nick Fury is the icon. Bye bye Sam, don't let the door hit you on the way out. After your horrible Spirit performance it's best you stay away.

  17. Brett says:

    I'm not terribly broken up by this. When they do the Captain America movie, and if ANY of it is set in World War II with an appearance by Nick Fury during that time period, it should have some sense of historical accuracy – and an African American Nick Fury would not have had the same standing in the army or the same appearances in the European Theater during WWII as did the Caucasian Fury.

  18. No internets for two weeks and THIS is what I come back too? I'm going beck to bed.
    Look guys, the reason these comic book movies are doing so well is the reason ANY project does well. TALENT. Studios getting the best actors, writers, and directors are the reason comic-book movies did so spectacularly well this summer in the first place. If you just walk away from the talent and focus on the brand name you get why Disney has now: A string of unmemorable and unpalatable sequels that only indifferent children care about.
    And I still want the Brad Pitt from twelve years ago to play Captain America.
    And DR.HOUSE NEEDS TO BE DR. STRANGE. Have Bryan Singer direct it!

  19. ray blackmen says:

    samuel needs to be nick

  20. Stephanie says:

    Pay the man! He's worth EVERY Penny.

  21. Chicago48 says:

    Hmmm…I I agree with Mike G….is it coincidental that Terrence and Samuel had "money" issues with the Marvel people. Let's face it — those comic book character deals yield a lot of money for the stars in the way of endorsements. So the upfront money probably wasn't agreed to by both parties….too bad, because Sam has been in comic book after comic book it seems trying to hit the mother node like Keanu Reeves did with the Matrix.
    I'm a bit tired of the Marvel comic book characters on the screen and soon, the public will get tired of them too. They're the same stories over and over, just different characters and diff CGI.

  22. VW says:

    Thank God the most overexposed actor in hollywood Samuel L. Jackson won't be in the next anything.

  23. K says:

    Brett who posted onJjanuary 14 sounds like a complete racist idiot to even make a comment like that. No one should take a moive picture that far to say one race cannot play another because if that were the case Elizabeth Taylor should not have been Cleopatra who was black, Heston could not have played Moses who was very dark, and most of all no one could have played Jesus. Let's not take a comic book series to another level because you sound very silly.

  24. PLEASE do NOT play a race card because Brett is speaking from a mindset of realism, NOT racism!
    Many moviegoers today demand more of a sense of realism than they ever did. There is considerably less willing suspension of disbelief than there ever used to be. There is also a much stronger knowledge and connection to our history by moviegoers.
    Brett is simply stating that, historically, a black person in command at a level like Nick Fury would simply not exist back in World War II (a time when racism was indeed an issue). He's stating historical based facts of life, and should not be called out as a "racist idiot" because of it.
    K owes someone an apology.
    As for this news…I can take of leave SJ these days. He's a tremendous scenery chewer, especially since Lucas handed him a lightsaber. I wouldn't miss him in this. Scenery chewing has its place in the comics world…but not at the level I think Jackson would bring.

  25. The Sam Jackson (i.e. Ultimate) Nick Fury wasn't around in WWII. So relax.
    If you guys wanna play race card, isn't is funny that Terrence Howard and Samuel L. Jackson are the ones who aren't getting their contracts renewed…

  26. Outcast says:

    This was posted on January 14th: "Pay the man! He's worth EVERY Penny."
    I work 2 full time jobs and make approx $60k/year. It makes me sick to see all of these people between actors and athletes making millions upon millions of dollars. Some baseball players make $45,000 per at bat. Do you know how many people in the world make less that that in a year, some make that in 3 minutes standing at the plate. There is something drastically wrong here.
    Greedy people holding out for an extra million or however much. I understand if you have a talent you want to get paid and try to get as much as you can while your hot etc…. In this day and age and economy the way it is, it just makes me sick.

  27. Avenger1 says:

    With the awful past 3 movie efforts he put out, the best his annoying knock-off Nick Fury version will accomplish is turn off many true original faithful Avengers fans, and make lose hundreds of millions of dollars at the box-office for Marvel Studio.

  28. Paul says:

    Well, this would suck if it's true. Anyone else will look weird in that role. When I watch great actors like Jackson, I always wonder about the different places they studied. A good acting school is worth it’s weight in gold. The key is to find one that caters to your individual needs. Not only do you need the basic tools for auditioning, scene study and the like, but you need a curriculum that works with whatever your schedule may be. Whether you work all day, go to high school or care for your kids, not everyone can study in the traditional way. Another acting program that works this way is Film Connection. The Film Connection’s acting program is affiliated with Joe Anthony studios and fetures valuable one-on-one mentoring. They are also available to anyone living in the United States and have financial aid assistance.

  29. Chris says:

    People, people, people! Let's get brains here.
    First: if ANYTHING in Hollywood action movies was realistic, they'd have no market. Like someone said earlier, Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra, Heston played Moses- COMPLETELY INACCURATE. So Sam Jackson as Nick Fury? I think it would actually lend some credibility to what I think would be an awful movie in the first place.
    Other than the recent Hulk movie, all of the Marvel influenced movies have been CRAP. Fantastic Four??? Xmen 1 & 3? Let's not even bring up the seriously forgettable Ghostrider, which featured a very talented actor in Nicolas Cage…
    Simply, Marvel would do better by having better written scripts than trying to attract big name actors to push drivel. Just like "The Spirit" (which was a flop not due to Jackson, the concept alone was terrible…), Hollywood tries to force feed us crap for our entertainment dollar. If you look at movies like The Matrix, Kill Bill, or even Pulp Fiction (which starred Jackson), there's an extremely clever plot that propels the movie no matter who's in it. If Marvel wants better return on their efforts, hire good writers, write good scripts, and lay off the CGI budget a litte.

  30. Daniel says:

    This is an easy fix. Just cast some mid 50's hard as nails looking dude with salt and pepper hair to play Fury in Iron Man 2, Avengers, etc. and then explain that his appearance at the end of Iron Man was simply a disguise. I'd prefer to have the classic Marvel U Nick Fury anyway.
    PS Just in case you call shenanigans on my idea, Nick Fury uses his holograph disguise thing all the time in the comics…one time even disguising himself as someone who bore a striking resemblance to the Ultimate Fury.

  31. these2boots says:

    overexposed. jackson is in every comic/fantasy related movie there is. sick of him. some he did good, some he did not. that out of the way…
    i'm not into this ultimate marvel crap being the movie version. ultimate marvel was an alternate take, and 99% of the real nick fury fans (been into him since i was a very very young boy via my father) don't give a rats a@# about it. a neat read. as for the film universe, i wanna see a fit alec baldwin kickin' a@# and takin' dog tags of the dead and conquered.

  32. la la lolly says:

    I have been around SLJ on set and he is an ass!! He is more of a Diva than any woman. He makes a ton of $$ and has for years. If he hates everyone on the set so much, he should retire. Of course, he could try to be appreciative of those that work so hard to make him look good. Just sayin…..

  33. george says:

    I hope and pray Jackson does NOT play the role. All he does is shout and scream and calls that acting! This piece of —– so-called "actor" has ruined almost every picture he's been in! Please, please, please don't let him near another movie set!

  34. Mike Fury says:

    Get Sylvester Stalone or Schwarzenager, Hasselhoff doesn't have the presence- Nicholson might carry it off if he was so inclined- it needs someone with a commanding presences like Jackson. I just don't think he is right for the part!

  35. Dum Dum says:

    Jackson is not Fury.

  36. eduardo says:

    Sam wont be the first actor, producer or director to have differences with Marvel, nor will he be the last.
    Witch is a huge reason why their sequels are lest appealing then the originals. It's MONEY People! Its a system. The First movie is the Hook, so it has to be good. The second only has to be as good, and the third and usually last well we got you twice shame on you. How many times is this the case? So now what, We'll Reboot aka Spider Man 4. THINK!

  37. eduardo says:

    Sam wont be the first actor, producer or director to have differences with Marvel, nor will he be the last.

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  39. Passing Troll says:

    Sam Jackson the actor can pull off Fury’s command style attitude but, he doesn’t look like the original…I get that much. I still want to see the movie, I kinda wish that they would do a complete cameo like the game, with all of the X Men, Blade (Snipes), the Fantastic Four, leave out Elektra (or pick a new one), and add Spiderman.

    The Budget would be through the roof but, that has always been the problem with live-action fanfare’s.

    Think, Dragonball Z; disaster

    Mortal Kombat 1,2,3…; disaster

    Akira, never left the ground; disaster

    Priest; could have been better.

    Avatar (I’m not a fan but, my sister is and she hated it.)

    Street Fighter was good for its time (nothing since the first one though.)

    The Punisher wasn’t so great;

    My God man the list goes on….

    In my opinion the only live action comics they got right were The Dark Knight’s, Blade 1 & 2, And X-Men (my only problem with X-Men was the awkward placement, timing and introductions of the characters. I thought Spiderman 1 was pretty good…(Venom was really the biggest disappointment in the movie series.)

    Finally, my suggestion to Marvel, would be to make a series of Marvel Universe movies, 3 is enough and make them charity based. Good press for the actors, that way they could appeal to a wider range of star actors; more actors, less screen time each, a good cause and a better fanfare.

    Just thinking, how cool would it be?…

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