We all know Jackson stars as Nick Fury in Marvel’s Avengers movies. But the history of the character would not have suggested that he would get the role on the big screen. Until Mark Millar changed everything.
Here’s the story, as related by Gus Lubin at Business Insider:
“Nick Fury was white, but in a 2002 Marvel comic, writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch made him into a black guy who looked like Samuel L. Jackson, and they did it without the actor’s permission.
“This bold move had repercussions. Millar’s book, THE ULTIMATES has been cited as an inspiration for the Avengers movies by many including Avengers director Joss Whedon, and nowhere is that more clear than in the casting of Jackson as Fury.
“How did Jackson feel about having his likeness used without permission?
“Millar told BI over email what happened when he finally met the actor on the set of “KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE” :
‘The first thing I said was I hope you don’t mind me completely exploiting your appearance in my book thirteen years back, and he said, “F*ck, no, man. Thanks for the 9 picture deal.”‘
From Marvel’s “The Ultimates” written by Mark Millar, drawn by Bryan Hitch.
Marvel Studios –
‘I wanted an African-American Nick Fury to be director of SHIELD because the closest thing in the real world to this job title was held by Colin Powell at the time. I also thought Nick Fury sounded like one of those great, 1970s Blaxploitation names and so the whole thing coalesced for me into a very specific character…
‘Sam is famously the coolest man alive and both myself an artist Bryan Hitch just liberally used him without asking any kind of permission. 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.’
Lubin continues: “Millar’s book was pretty explicit about using Jackson as a model. Fury even jokes in one issue that he should be played by Jackson in a hypothetical movie.
From Marvel’s “Ultimates” by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch.
Jackson said in a 2012 interview with LA Times that he contacted Marvel after seeing his likeness in the comic and asked for a part in any eventual movie: “They were kind of like, ‘Yeah, we are planning on making movies, and we do hope you’ll be a part of them.'”