It’s worth noting that the Nick Fury from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — the version played by Samuel L. Jackson — was modeled after a parallel universe version of the character that wasn’t created until the 2002 comic book series “The Ultimates.” Not incidentally, the Ultimates Fury was initially drawn to look like Jackson, so his casting in the role in 2008 was a creative full-circle. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, Nick Fury was a more fantastical, spindly character, usually seen chomping cigars and sporting some pretty wild cool-in-quotation-marks spy costumes. He was a campier character, and one that David Hasselhoff was told, by Stan Lee himself, was tongue-in-cheek. 

Hasselhoff was eager to play Nick Fury, and was certainly capable of playing a more colorful, over-the-top version of the character. In the 1990s, a lot of superhero media was comedic and deconstructionist, often built to mock the silliness inherent to the genre (see: “Blankman,” “Earthworm Jim,” “The Tick,” “Freakazoid!,” “Mystery Men,” etc.). The 1998 “Nick Fury” was meant to ride the line between silly and badass, which it mostly does well. Hasselhoff was told he was going to thereafter play Nick Fury in perpetuity, even after Marvel film rights were busy changing hands. The actor recalled:

“My Nick Fury was the organic Nick Fury that was written and discussed with Stan Lee before anyone got in there to change it. Nick Fury was written to be tongue-in-cheek, and he had a cigar in his mouth, he was a tough guy—he was cool … Stan Lee said, ‘You’re the ultimate Nick Fury.’ Avi Arad, when [Toy Biz took over Marvel], said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to be Nick Fury forever,’ and they lied.”

Hasselhoff did not play Nick Fury again. 

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