One of the pieces of connective tissue helping to link Marvel Studios’ superhero franchise has been the Department of Homeland Security branch known as SHIELD. It was first introduced in last May’s Iron Man and then sly mentioned again when The Incredible Hulk was released six weeks later.
And while comics fans are definitely excited about Marvel’s plans to have their various solo superhero films crossover into an adaption of the super team The Avengers in 2011, they were even more excited by the fact that SHIELD head honcho Nick Fury, the man who brings those heroes to form the Avengers in some versions of the story, made an appearance in a short, post-credits scene in Iron Man, played by none other than Samuel L. Jackson.
Unfortunately, Jackson is not sure that he will continue in the role of the eye-patched spymaster according to a report in the LA Times‘ Hero Complex Blog. While things looked good last October for Jackson to be appearing in Marvel’s next film, Iron Man 2 in May 2010, it seems that there are some complications to his participation. Complications of the economic kind to be exact.
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.
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 have to admit that I’m not entirely surprised by this turn of events. Back in the immediate wake of Iron Man‘s success, Marvel balked at bringing back Favreau for the sequel, and the word was that money was a chief sticking point in their negotiations. Salary also played a part in Terence Howard’s departure from the the sequel, leading to his replacement with Don Cheadle.
Marvel needs to wake up on this. So far, they’ve managed to curry both fan’s and critic’s favor with their films and generate anticipation for what they have planned for the next two years. The appearance of Jackson in Iron Man, with the promise of more of the actor to come in the upcoming films, has been a major fuel for that enthusiasm. Fortunately, I think that Favreau, in both his role as director of Iron Man 2 and executive producer of The Avengers, is keenly aware of the fans of the series and, while balancing the need to make a good film that will appeal beyond the comic book collecting audience, will step up to the plate and fight hard to ensure Jackson’s participation.