Ever since he broke into Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) mansion in the Iron Man post-credits scene, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury has been an integral character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As the head of the covert American military operation known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), Fury played a key role in the formation of the Avengers — a storyline that positioned his character as one of the MCU’s main connective threads.
Of the 20 Marvel movies that have been released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jackson has appeared in eight: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War. Not to mention that he is already set to reprise the role of Fury in Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
But Jackson’s longtime involvement in the MCU is no coincidence. When the Marvel Comics limited series The Ultimateslaunched in 2002, it featured an updated version of the original Nick Fury character that writer Mark Millar had modeled after Jackson himself.
“Sam is famously the coolest man alive and both myself an artist Bryan Hitch just liberally used him without asking any kind of permission,” Millar told Business Insider in 2015. “You have to remember this was 2001 when we were putting this together. The idea that this might become a movie seemed preposterous as Marvel was just climbing out of bankruptcy at the time. What we didn’t know was that Sam was an avid comic fan and knew all about it.
Jackson discovered that his likeness was being used and nearly took legal action. But when Marvel instead offered to cast him as Fury if the character was ever featured in a movie, Jackson took the deal.
When we last saw Fury in Avengers: Infinity War‘s post-credits scene, he had just managed to transmit a signal to Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) before becoming one of the victims of Thanos’ Infinity Stones-powered purge of half the universe.
In the forthcoming Marvel movie Captain Marvel — which is set in 1995 — Jackson will appear as a younger version of Fury who is still a low-level employee at S.H.I.E.L.D.
“The Nick Fury we meet is sort of a bureaucrat in an interesting sort of way,” he told Entertainment Weekly in a September interview. “He hadn’t become jaded or a slave to the cynicism that we normally see. He sort of respects the people that are above him, more so than the Nick Fury that people are used to.”
Jackson has also confirmed that we’ll finally learn how Fury was blinded in one eye.
“You’ll see, specifically, the origin of what happened to his eye,” he told CinemaBlend in January. “You’ll find out that he does have a family, that’s referenced. You don’t see them, but they are referenced in another way. There are things we talk about in his backstory that haven’t been talked about before — where he’s from, what he’s done. There are times when he actually, humanly reacts to things with fear and awe, instead of the stone face that he normally has, before he learns to control his emotions in another way.”
Keep an eye out for young Nick Fury when Captain Marvel hits theaters on March 8.