After years of anticipation, the superhero adventure, The Avengers, has finally reached theaters. The film, based on the Marvel Comics superhero squad of the same name, boasts an all-star cast, including Robert Downey Jr., Marc Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson.
The plot of the movie centers around Jackson’s character, Nick Fury, who is the director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. He recruits Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to form a team of unstoppable heroes on a mission to save the world.
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Colonel Nick Fury made his debut in the Marvel Comics universe in 1963 and was traditionally depicted as an Italian-American with graying brown hair. However, in 2001 the Ultimate Marvel Team-Up portrayed Fury as a bald African-American sporting a goatee, whole likeness was based specifically on Jackson — without losing the trademark eye-patch.
Marvel made a bet that Jackson could translate Fury’s epic comic book character on the big screen and they signed the iconic actor to a nine-picture deal. The gamble has seemingly paid off. The Pulp Fiction star has been featured in several Marvel movies as a tease for die-hard fans and to establish his character. He appeared in quick post-credits scene in 2008’s Iron Man, and Thor in 2011. Jackson’s Fury character was also featured last year in Captain America: The First Avenger and in a supporting role in 2010’s Iron Man 2.
Jackson has been able to build momentum for his character over the past decade and his leading role in The Avengers will surely contribute to film’s inevitable success at the box office.
The 63-year-old Academy Award nominated actor has appeared in over 100 films and according to The Guinness Book of World Records is the highest grossing actor of all time, earning a total of $7.2 billion dollars throughout the span of his career. A lyric from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Who Gon’ Stop Me” says “It wouldn’t be wise to bet against the kid,” in Hollywood; the phrase seems appropriate, in that it wouldn’t be wise to bet against Jackson.
The actor has two films yet to be released in 2012, Meeting Evil and The Samaritan, and earlier this year Jackson voiced the character Tendai for the forthcoming animated film Zambezia. Currently, he is in the process of filming Quentin Tarantino’s slavery-themed western Django Unchained.
Jackson will reportedly reprise his character in the next Captain America film, which starts shooting in January, but the ultimate fate of his Nick Fury character remains a mystery to him. “I have no idea,” he said during a recent interview. “I had a nine picture deal, I’ve only done five of them, so I guess so. It’s possible.”
According to the New York Times Samuel L. Jackson has been able to “become his own genre.” He’s been able to capitalize financially on his distinct ability to infuse even his “most vilest characters, spouting the vilest words, with a touch of humor, intelligence and humanity.”
When most actors his age are looking back on their careers and struggling to find juicy, age appropriate roles, Jackson is working just as hard as he did 40 years ago in 1972 when he made his first film, Together For Days.
His decision to sign on for a nine movies with Marvel may have seemed risky at first, but it has managed to extend his brand for many years to come, helping introduce a whole new generation to the “genre” that is Samuel L. Jackson.
Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC