The other Nick Fury, David Hasselhoff… yes, David Hasselhoff

Nick Fury by Chris Samnee

The master spy and leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury started off his long career in a world populated by kooks in bee keeper outfits and long johns in WWII. Leading a group of wild men known as the ‘Howlin’ Mad Commandos,’ he charged a path across Europe against the Axis powers. The comic was a big success, but when one reader prompted ‘where’s Fury now?’ wheels started to turn in Stan Lee’s head.

Nick Fury was modernized and reinvented as a James Bond-type, only he had the rough street-level attitude of a Brooklyn-born tough guy. Having more in common with Ben Grimm than Sean Connery, Fury sported a permanent face full of stubble and chomped on a stinky cigar. None of this kept him from landing the dames, though. The series really took off when a young cartoonist and escape artist Jim Steranko took over the art chores from his mentor Jack Kirby. Steranko’s style was far ahead of its time and skyrocketed the comic to levels of popularity that remain today.

So how come Sam Jackson played Fury in the Avengers?
Well, the creation of a new comic book line was prompted to appeal to readers intimidated by continuity and to possibly prevent Marvel Comics from closing the doors due to low sales. Dubbed the Ultimate line, the project was a success and modernized new versions of classic characters, sometimes changing them in small ways, other times in more drastic ones. In the case of Nick Fury, the character most clearly resembled actor Samuel L. Jackson.

When the opportunity came to develop their ‘universe’ online, Marvel approached Jackson and he happily agreed to portray Fury, signing a mult-picture deal that insured we will be seeing him in an eye patch for quite some time.

However, he was not the first man to play Nick Fury. Long before the creation of the Ultimate Nick Fury, David Hasselhoff played the character in a one-off made for TV movie. It’s very dubious for many reasons, but none of them are related to Hasselhoff himself. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), his depiction of Fury was spot-on to the Marvel version.

Although Samuel L. Jackson has played S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and the record-breaking Avengers, his portrayal of the cigar-chomping Marvel Comics government agent isn’t definitive to everyone. Like, say, to David Hasselhoff — Baywatch legend, Knight Rider icon, and star of the upcoming Piranha 3DD — who donned Fury’s signature eye patch and scowl in his own 1998 telefilm, earned Stan Lee’s blessing, and claims that his is the “ultimate” Nick Fury.

“I didn’t see The Avengers yet,” Hasselhoff admitted to Movieline while discussing his appearance — as David Hasselhoff — in the R-rated sequel Piranha 3DD. “I love Sam Jackson, but you know… my Nick Fury was the organic Nick Fury that was written and discussed with Stan Lee before anyone got in there to change it. Nick Fury was written to be tongue-in-cheek, and he had a cigar in his mouth, he was a tough guy — he was cool.”

Hasselhoff says he had earned Lee’s praise for his turn as Fury, who comes out of retirement in the 1998 film Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. to battle HYDRA. So he was a little miffed to learn the character would be portrayed by someone else — even if that someone was Jackson.
“Stan Lee said, ‘You’re the ultimate Nick Fury,’” he remembered. “Avi Arad, when they bought it, said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to be the Nick Fury forever,’ and they lied. [Pause] But that happens to me all the time. That’s when you realize life isn’t fair.”

Hasselhoff, meanwhile, has been trying to revive another of his past projects anew — not Baywatch (alas!), but Knight Rider — his popular ’80s series co-starring a tricked-out, artificially intelligent car named KITT. Numerous attempts to revive the series in film and television form have been made in the years since Knight Rider went off the air (including, most recently, a 2008 TV series that lasted one season), but the latest iteration — a film adaptation, currently at the Weinstein Co. — is what Hasselhoff has his sights set on.
In fact, he told Movieline, it’s the Weinstein Co.’s Knight Rider film that helped entice Hasselhoff to take part in Piranha 3DD. “Bob Weinstein called me and said, ‘Come on, man — if you do this movie and it does really well, I’ll put you in Scary Movie,” Hasselhoff said, “‘and then we own Knight Rider, maybe we can put you in the Knight Rider movie…’”

Still, Hasselhoff wouldn’t mind finding his way back into the Marvel fold — perhaps in Avengers 2? “I had a blast playing Nick Fury,” he said. “And if it ever came back and Nick Fury has a brother — Dick Fury? — I’d be there.”

Via MovieLine

So how long until someone remembers Nick Fury DOES have a brother?

6 thoughts on “The other Nick Fury, David Hasselhoff… yes, David Hasselhoff

  1. It’s funny… I usually am not an advocate for stunt casting or race-changing. In fact, I argued against the black Kingpin in the Daredevil movie because I thought it was stunt-casting that wasn’t necessary. If you wanted a high-profile black actor to play the villain, then do that… but don’t turn the Kingpin black just to serve that purpose. We wouldn’t do the opposite, right? I mean, imagine casting a Black Panther movie and casting Matt Damon to play the King of Wakanda! Blasphemy!

    So… I find it highly strange that the Ultimate Universe version of Black Nick Fury, clearly based on Samuel L Jackson didn’t bother me. Jackson’s attitude fit the inspiration for that version of the character… so hearing that they had cast him for the Marvel movies was great. I love me some Sam Jackson…

    And I’m left to wonder… why this bit of recasting didn’t bother me?

    I remember arguing too… about Wonder Woman… Lynda Carter was great… but when talk of a new Wonder Woman movie or TV show came about… I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if they actually got a Greek actress to play the role? I mean, she is an Amazon… Melina Kanakaredes would have been great, but while she still looks great she isn’t young enough to be a young new-to-man’s-world Wonder Woman anymore… so that ship probably sailed.

    But back in those days… when I was thinking about casting WW… I had the odd thought that it wouldn’t have bothered me to see someone like Gina Torres cast. She wasn’t Greek… and definitely not traditional white… but she had been an Amazon before (see Xena)… and she’s always good when I see her in anything and can definitely carry the stature WW needs to have and command attention.

    So there I was again… casting against traditional type… because the strength of an actress/actor was so good that I was willing to ignore that they weren’t who traditionally would have been cast in the role.

    And then I remember Dean Cain was part Asian… and he was a very good Clark Kent/Superman in my opinion… so maybe it’s not so bad to cast against type IF you get the right person.


    • The only real problem with casting Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin was that the character in the film was steeped in the reminder of his race. There’s the dire reminder that he was ‘from the streets’ and the heavy bass intro music to each scene he is featured in. Additionally, Duncan was cast for his size alone and can’t seem to bring the level of power and presence necessary for the Kingpin.

      Casting Sam Jackson as Nick Fury is more building on his reputation. It does inject some much-needed variety to the cast, but at the cost of the character. I fully support more diversity in superhero comics and films, and unfortunately there are far too few options without simply asking, ‘can we make this guy a different color?’


      • I would agree if Sam Jackson was out of the blue… but since they reinvented Nick Fury as a black man already for the Ultimate Universe… I crossed the “what did they do to Nick Fury” bridge a while back… and came to accept the notion.


  2. SJV, I agree. But a black Kingpin is a bit EXTREME….It is the opposite end. Dean Cain at least LOOKED white. Hasselhoff deserves the Fury role. Not Jackson. I mean hell he already ruined the Star Wars films.


    • I can’t argue that Hasselhoff “deserves” the Fury role, though… might as well cast all the still-living members of the TV shows… Dr Strange, Spider-Man, Ferrigno as Hulk (can’t get Bixby unfortunately), and the TV Captain America too. Heck, all but Dr Strange got more than 1 TV special too…

      Hasselhoff would not have worked in these movies.


    • The problem with Jackson as Nick Fury is that it’s an entirely different character. If Stan Lee had been forward-thinking and risky by creating Nick Fury as an African-American WWII hero or as a James Bond-type, that would be one thing (and I can only imagine what the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD series would have been like with a change in skin tone). But that’s not who Nick Fury is and there’s nothing in Jackson’s performance that supports the Nick Fury of that universe. It’s not exactly stunt casting, but it has no relation to the comic book character. Not that Jackson chomping on a cigar and talking like Ben Grimm would have been a good decision, mind you.

      The only way that the movie version of Nick Fury makes any sense is by attributing it to a different version based on Jackson. He’s so different that it would have been much better had they just given the character a new name.

      I agree that Hasselhoff could not have pulled off Fury in these movies, but he did very well on TV, all things considered.


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