Hail to the king of pop-culture
He’s a pop culture icon. That voice is recognizable from clear across the room, especially that special rhythm he achieves when adding a few, to quote Mr. Spock, “colorful metaphors.”
He’s a bad mother…(hush your mouth) But I’m talking about Shaft, er, Samuel L. Jackson. He’s gone from being one of the most recognizable supporting actors, to commanding his own starring film roles (“Shaft”), voice over work (“Afro Samurai,” “The Boondocks”), to most recently, the character Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who will figure quite prominently in “The Avengers” movie.
Jackson is so bad, they had to change the color of Fury because of the potency of the Jackson legacy. The Marvel comic “The Ultimates” was launched in 2002, written by Mark Millar (the creator of “Kick-Ass” and “Wanted”) and drawn by Bryan Hitch. This was post 911, so the idea was to modernize Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s “The Avengers” for the New Millennium. Naturally, they succeeded, and the comic though suffering from delays in shipping at times, excited the fans, and Nick Fury was given Samuel L. Jackson’s likeness.
Take a moment to consider this.
In Millar’s “Wanted,” the two main characters had the likeness of Eminem and Halle Berry. Clearly, this casting didn’t stick for the film starring Angelina Jolie, but Sam Jackson took to the eye patch at the end of the first “Iron Man” movie, and this started the ball rolling for the Marvel Comics Universe to become a Marvel Comics Cinema Universe. Fury, as originally conceived by Lee and Kirby was basically a super spy, World War II action hero, who by the way, was white. A ‘60s staple, he was updated to fit our times.
George Lucas has gone on record as saying there are three lightsaber colors in his universe, green and blue (for the good guys) and red (for the Sith baddies). Period. Then along comes Mr. Samuel L. Jackson and Lucas, from some cavernous Jedi cave (or that spooling collection of “Star Wars” revisions) says, “Okay, you can have a purple lightsaber.” Not a direct quote, mind you, but bottom line, what Mr. Jackson wants, Mr. Jackson gets.
And that’s the Sam Jackson paradox: just as he moves dangerously close to self-parody (“Snakes on a Plane” is a fine example), he shifts to something completely unexpected. Case in point, his role as Martin Luther King Jr. with Angela Bassett (as Coretta Scott King) in the Broadway play “The Mountaintop.” And now, he’s doing the rounds for Apple with a new iPhone 4S commercial (sadly, no stylized bleeping).
He’s come a long way from Gator, the crack head, in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever,” and now he’s going beyond the “Star Wars” universe to the Marvel Universe.
I really can’t wait to see Samuel L. Jackson doing Samuel L. Jackson portraying Nick Fury, in a feature film co-starring, yet again, Samuel L. Jackson.
Even the man’s name, screams pop culture.
Read Cornelius Fortune’s “The Avengers” movie review online at www.michronicleonline.com on Friday, May 4.