This week Neil Calloway looks at the time when David Hasselhoff played Nick Fury…
With the release of Captain America: Civil War, Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in all the MCU films, as well as making a cameo as the character in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He has made the role his own and it’s now hard to imagine anyone else in the role, but Nick Fury has appeared in a live action feature length TV movie in 1998 titled Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, where he was played by David Hasselhoff.
Now he’s seen as an ironic punchline, it’s hard to Hasselhoff playing the role, but then you remember he’d been an action star in Knight Rider, he played the lead in the biggest TV show in the world – Baywatch – in the 1990s; he was perfect for this schlocky throwaway TV movie. In retrospect it’s hard to take him seriously as an eyepatch wearing maverick secret agent in an apparently straightfaced – if low budget and a bit clunky – movie.
The plot revolves around a retired Fury being brought back to work for S.H.I.E.L.D when HYDRA threaten to attack Manhattan with a virus unless a $1 billion dollar ransom is paid. Werner von Strucker spends most of the film in cryogenic suspension. Lisa Rinna – who is currently appearing in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills plays Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Sandra Hess, who appeared as Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, stars as Viper, here depicted as Werner von Strucker’s daughter.
Avi Arad – who would go on to produce Iron Man and The X-Men movies, gets a producer credit alongside Stan Lee, who apparently praised Hasselhofff’s performance, but it makes for a strange, dated TV movie and you wonder why a film was made about a relatively – at the time at least – obscure Marvel character.
David S. Goyer – credited without his middle initial – wrote the screenplay, and though I don’t imagine he’s very proud of it – much of the exposition sounds like pseudoscience from bad TV movie from the 1990s, it also contains some fantastically tongue in cheek quoteable lines, including “I’ll get that vampire’s blood if I have to suck it from her neck.” A character says, with a straight face “I was top of my class in advanced silent killing, I can do this in my sleep.” before being knocked out. Given that Goyer was writing films like Dark City and Blade around the same time it’s possible it was meant as a pilot for a TV show that never happened.
There are some interesting touches for Marvel fans – it’s the first time the Helicarrier makes an appearance in a live action film, though the visual effects are light years away from the ones used to create the Helicarrier from the MCU films, but in all honesty the film has dated like only a bad TV movie shot in Vancouver in the late 1990s could. It’s of note only for Goyer’s involvement and to show how far Marvel movies have come in less than twenty years – the budget for this movie probably wouldn’t even cover half an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D now.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.