NICK FURY, AGENT OF SHIELD
Nick Fury, Agent of Shield (note the spelling of Shield as a regular word in the title as opposed to the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. used in the comic-book title) was one of these. It was made as a tv pilot but a potential series failed to get off the ground. It makes for fascinating contrast to the more familiar Samuel L. Jackson incarnation of Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is important to remember that Nick Fury, Agent of Shield was made at a point when the public outside of comic-book readers had no idea what S.H.I.E.L.D. was. The film is not situated in the wider Marvel Universe and, although it does incorporate a number of Marvel villains and Nick Fury supporting characters, is pitched as a fantastical James Bond adventure about a secret government agency while science-fictional devices do plentifully circulate, there are no superheroics.
While everyone is now used to a bald-headed African-American Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (and where the Marvel comic-book universe has even been retconned to fit this), the Nick Fury we have here resembles more the way the comic-book character looked like back in 1998 as a Caucasian with full head of hair and an eye patch. The role is cast with David Hasselhoff, in a career lull following the heydays of Knight Rider (1982-6) and Baywatch (1989-2000) and just before the troughs of self-parody he descended to in the likes of Hop (2011) and Piranha 3DD (2012). There are marked differences between the two characterisations Samuel L. Jackson is tough as nails but in charge of a fighting unit; here David Hasselhoff is a tough but individualistic outsider who is grudgingly brought back into the organisation as a field agent where he is determined to flaunt authority and do everything his way.
I enjoyed Nick Fury, Agent of Shield more than I was expecting to, certainly more than the reputation it has around the web. One of the reasons for this is the script from David S. Goyer who has subsequently become the Go To man when it comes to adapting comic-books to the screen with the likes of the Blade and Ghost Rider films, Christopher Nolans Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel (2013). (See below for Goyers other genre credits). Goyer delivers a decidedly tongue-in-cheek script. David Hasselhoff gets right into the spirit and plays Fury as a perfectly larger-than-life figure. The lines throughout are side-splitting as Neil Roberts flies in to recruit him, Hasselhoff rejects the offer: Why dont you get back in your blow-dryer and get the hell out of my afternoon sun. Or greeting his tightass boss Tom McBeath: People like you stick to the bowl no matter how many times you flush. Upon being diagnosed with having been poisoned by a rare Colombian tree frog, his immediate question is: How long do I have before Kermit bites the big one? At the end, someone comments I thought you were dead, to which Hasselhoffs perfect reply is I was. But I got better.
In terms of action, Nick Fury, Agent of Shield is shot as a standard tv movie. Nothing goes beyond the usual canned gunplay, fistfights and martial arts sequences of this era. There are the types of improbable gadgets you only get in spy films a lifelike android that acts as a decoy of David Hasselhoff, another lifelike bomb droid that impersonates Tom McBeath, a gun keyed to Hasselhoffs palm print that electrocutes anybody else who tries to use it. One of the more fascinating aspects in retrospect is seeing the Hydra agents aim their missile at New York City and the target in the sights being none other than the still standing Twin Towers.
David S. Goyers other screenplays include the Jean-Claude Van Damme action film Death Warrant (1990), Full Moons Demonic Toys (1992) and Arcade (1994), The Puppet Masters (1994), The Crow: City of Angels (1996), Blade (1998), Dark City (1998), Blade II (2002), Batman Begins (2005), Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), The Dark Knight (2008), Jumper (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), Man of Steel (2013) and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Goyer has also directed the excellent non-genre film ZigZag (2002) about an autistic boy, Blade Trinity (2004), The Invisible (2007) about a disembodied teenager and the possession film The Unborn (2009). Goyer has also produced the genre tv series Sleepwalkers (1997) about dream researchers; FreakyLinks (2000) about paranormal investigators; Threshold (2005) about the investigation of a UFO; the cinematic adaptation of the Marvel Comic Ghost Rider (2007); the tv series Flash Forward (2009-10) about a mysterious worldwide premonition; the tv series DaVincis Demons (2013-5) about a fantastical secret history of Leonardo Da Vinci; the tv version of Constantine (2014-5); and the ghost story The Forest (2016).
Rod Hardy is an Australian director who once made the medical vampire film Thirst (1979) and has directed a good deal of US tv since then. He also made the tv mini-series 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997) starring Michael Caine.