Nick Fury: Agent of Shield
Nick Fury: Agent of Shield (1998) is a TV movie based on the Marvel Comic about a cigar-chomping, one-eyed super-spy.
Cast: David Hasselhoff (Col. Nicholas Fury), Lisa Rinna (Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine), Sandra Hess (Andrea Von Strucker/Viper), Neil Roberts (Alexander Goodwin Pierce), Garry Chalk (Timothy Aloysius Dugan), Tracy Waterhouse (Kate Neville), Tom McBeath (Director General Jack Pincer), Ron Canada (Gabriel Jones)
Supporting Cast: Bill Croft (Garotte), Roger R. Cross (Shield Agent #1), Peter Haworth (Arnim Zola), Scott Heindl (Werner Von Strucker), Adrian Hughes (Quartermain), Campbell Lane (Baron Von Strucker), Mina Erian Mina (Cairo), Terry David Mulligan (The President), Rick Ravanello (Agent Vaughn), Stellina Rusich (Inspector Runciter)
At the secret Trinity Base, the deceased terrorist Baron Von Strucker is kept in cryogenic freezing. Agent Vaughn, a double agent for the terrorist organization Hydra, shoots his partner Quartermain, gases the guards and opens the door for Hydra to attack the base. Hydra is led by a woman, Andrea Von Strucker (a.k.a. "Viper"), the daughter of the frozen villain, who reclaims her father's body.
Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine and Alexander Goodwin Pierce, agents of Shield—the Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-enforcement Division—track down Col. Nick Fury, who is now retired, to reinstate him as leader of Shield. Fury refuses at first, but when Val tells him of the death of his partner Quartermain and the returned threat from the daughter of the man who took his eye, Fury agrees to rejoin the team.
Back at the Shield headquarters—a massive flying fortress called the Helicarrier—Fury reunites with his old allies Timothy Aloysius Dugan and Gabriel Jones, and his old nemesis, Director General Jack Pincer. Jones also introduces Fury to Shield's new equipment, including guns which can only be used by their owners but shock any other user and perfect android imitations of humans, called Life Model Decoys or LMD's. Another surprise is in store for Fury when he learns Shield now employs psychic agents, such as Karen Neville. During debriefing, it is revealed that Viper and her brother Werner Von Strucker took the Baron's body to retro-engineer a virus in his system, the "Death's Head" virus. Fury also learns Arnim Zola, the doctor who invented this deadly disease, is in Shield custody in a safehouse in Berlin.
In Berlin, Fury and Val meet up with Inspector Runciter, a beautiful blonde Interpol agent. Pursued by Hydra agents, they take her to the safehouse, where Neville tries to scan Dr. Zola, but she finds terrifying imagery and a block on Zola's psyche. Runciter tells Fury there is a mole in the safehouse and sneaks him away, where she tries to seduce him. When he demands to know the identity of the mole, she shocks him with a device in her ring and reveals she is really Viper disguised as Runciter. She gives Fury a "kiss of death."
Back at the Helicarrier, Jones learns Viper's kiss contained a deadly venom, and Fury has 48 hours to live unless he can get a sample of Viper's blood from which an antivenom can be extracted. Faced with Fury's impending death, Val tries to apologize for her actions in leaving him years earlier, but he is cold to her.
A Hydra LMD disguised as Director Pincer infiltrates the Helicarrier with a message from Viper, in which she demands one billion dollars or she will fire warheads armed with the Death's Head virus on Manhattan. Fury's plan is to send one team, led by Val, to New York to find and disarm the warhead. A second team, including Pierce and Neville and led by himself, will head to Viper's base in Alaska and find both the abort code and Viper. Pincer refuses to allow the ailing Fury to lead the team, but he disobeys the order and leaves, anyway, and when Pincer orders him to return, Pierce and Neville back up Fury.
When Fury's plane is shot down, he and his crew bail out and make their way past Hydra's defenses and into the base. They are taken captive and brought before Viper, who confesses she will launch the missiles even if the ransom is paid, and that Werner will die in the attack.
Meanwhile, Val and her company find Werner with the missiles, but they cannot destroy the missiles without unleashing the virus. At first, Val refuses to take out Werner and his Hydra agents until contact is re-established with Fury, but with the clock ticking, she kills Werner and takes control of the missile launching mechanism.
Back in Alaska, Fury escapes from his holding cell with the help of a bomb hidden in his fake eyeball. The weakening Fury makes his way to Viper's lair, where Dr. Zola tries to shoot Fury, but the safety device on the gun shocks and kills Zola. Viper shoots Fury with her own gun, but she has actually shot an LMD, and Fury takes her captive. With the missiles mere minutes from launching, Neville scans Viper's mind and retrieves the abort code so Fury can contact Val and stop the launch. As Hydra agents burst through the door where Fury, Neville and Pierce have Viper, the Shield Helicarrier arrives to rescue them.
Viper uses the distraction of a second, fake countdown to escape with her father's frozen body, but not before a sample of her blood is taken. Cured of the venom, Fury punches out Pincer and apologizes to Val for his past with her. Meanwhile, somewhere in the world, Viper reunites with her father, whom she has resurrected from the dead.
Behind the Scenes
- Deviations from the Comics: Several elements of the back story differ from that of the comic book, including:
- It is stated that Baron Von Strucker was responsible for Fury losing his eye (although how that happened is never explained). In the comics, Fury took shrapnel to his eye during World War II and slowly lost sight in it.
- Shield is an anagram for "Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-enforcement Division." While this was the original phrase for which the comic book name S.H.I.E.L.D. was an anagram, by 1998, it had been changed to "Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage and Logistics Directorate."
- Baron Von Strucker has two children, Andrea (a.k.a. Viper) and Werner, neither of whom seem to have any superpowers to speak of. His comic book counterpart has three children, Werner, Andrea and her twin brother Andreas. Together, the twins are known as Fenris, and they have mutant powers, but only when in contact with one another. Nick Fury and other Marvel superheroes have clashed with a terrorist villainess named Viper—formerly Madame Hydra—but she is a completely different character from Andrea Von Strucker.
- Arnim Zola is presented as a very old but ordinary-looking man. The Marvel Comics Arnim Zola has one of the most distinctive looks of any of Marvel's super-villains: A grotesquely enlarged body with a small, mechanical box where the head would be and the face projected onto the chest.
- Hydra agents are portrayed as pale-skinned, bald bruisers in dull uniforms. Marvel's HYDRA agents are distinguished by their garish green, yellow and red costumes.
- Early Work: Although mostly ignored on its initial release, since then, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield has received increased attention, due to the fact that its screenwriter, David S. Goyer, would go on to much more successful comic book adaptations with the Blade trilogy and Batman Begins. As of October 2006, he is slated to write not less than four future comic book adaptations, including a sequel to Batman Begins and adaptations of Thor, the Flash and Captain America. Also, actor Roger Cross has a small role as a Shield agent who helps Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine capture the virus-laced warheads. Cross would find greater success a few years later as an agent for another fictional spy agency with his role as Curtis Manning on 24.
Allusions and References
- The Prodigal Son: One of Jesus' parables, found in the Gospel According to Luke 15:11-32. In the story, a wealthy farmer has two sons, one of whom leaves the farm and spends all his money, but the other of whom stays loyal throughout his life. When the prodigal son (the word "prodigal" meaning "given to reckless spending") returns and begs his father's forgiveness, the father orders a feast in his son's honor. The younger, loyal son objects, but the father says, in Luke 15:32, "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
- Gabriel Cross: Oh-ho-ho! The Prodigal Son returns!
- Ebola: A feared supervirus which became popularly known in the 1990s, although the first known outbreak occurred in 1976. Named for a river in the Congo, where it was first discovered, and found almost exclusively in Africa, an ebola infection is fatal over 50% of the time and can cause vomiting and diarrhea—particularly bloody vomiting and diarrhea. Little is known of the disease, and there is no cure.
- Alexander Goodwin Pierce: Well, th-they couldn't make a vaccine?
- Cross: Not for the Death's Head. Trust me, son, this is one very nasty germ. Compared to it, the ebola virus is like a mild case of the sniffles.
- "I Died for Beauty but Was Scarce": The code phrase by which Inspector Runciter recognizes Col. Nick Fury is a misquoting of lines from this poem by Emily Dickinson. The full poem is:
- I DIED for beauty, but was scarce
- Adjusted in the tomb,
- When one who died for truth was lain
- In an adjoining room.
- He questioned softly why I failed?
- "For beauty," I replied.
- "And I for truth,—the two are one;
- We brethren are," he said.
- And so, as kinsmen met a night,
- We talked between the rooms,
- Until the moss had reached our lips,
- And covered up our names.
- Inspector Runciter: I died for beauty, but was scarce adjusted in the tomb.
- Fury: When one who died for truth was lain to rest in the adjoining room.
- "Ode on a Grecian Urn": The poem from Emily Dickinson above inspires Fury to misquote this poem, written by John Keats decades before "I Died for Beauty but Was Scarce." The lines Fury quotes are the last two. The full final stanza is:
- O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
- Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
- With forest branches and the trodden weed;
- Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
- As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
- When old age shall this generation waste,
- Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
- Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
- When old age shall this generation waste,
- 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
- Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
- O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
- Fury: Beauty is truth, and truth is beauty. That's all ye on this earth know, and all ye need to know.
- Runciter: Is that part of the recognition code?
- Fury: No. I just felt like sayin' it.
- Kermit the Frog: One of the most recognizable of Jim Henson's Muppets, Kermit the Frog was the star of both The Muppet Show and Muppets Tonight, although he also made appearances on Sesame Street.
- Cross: Colombian tree frog, the most deadly toxin in all of nature. There is no serum. I'm sorry, Nick.
- Fury: Great. How long do I have before Kermit bites me the big one?
- The Iron Curtain: A commonly used term for the Soviet sphere of influence in Europe during the Cold War from 1947 to 1989. Although descriptions of its origins vary, it was popularized by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his March 5, 1946 speech to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, when he said, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."
- Kate Neville: You know, since I've blown my career now by supporting you, Colonel, maybe you'd satisfy my curiosity. Why did you leave Shield?
- Fury: I didn't. When the Iron Curtain was sent to the cleaners I was suddenly outta style, not diplomatic enough. It was time for me to move on.
- Matthew 5:29: "If thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out," is a well-known phrase from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, and it is found in this passage. The full passage is:
- And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
- Fury: You know the saying, "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out"? Aah! This one's been annoying me lately. Aah. Relax. It's only plastic, hhh....
- Cracker Jack: A brand name of caramel-covered popcorn and peanuts (owned by Frito-Lay since 1997) popular at ball parks and known for its prizes, which have been included inside every package since 1912.
- Fury: ... With a little Cracker Jack surprise inside.
- Col. Nicholas Fury: So they sent you, too. Contessa. Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine. Quite a mouthful when you try and wrap your tongue around it, but don't let the blue blood fool ya, Pierce. Val's an old hand at the sexpionage game, aren't ya?
- Inspector Runciter: Is it true? What women say about you?
Fury: Well, that depends on if you're talkin' to one of my ex-wives or my mother.
- Director General Jack Pincer: Don't you dare cut me off, you comic book cowboy!
- Fury: I danced on your poisonous father's grave. I'll dance on your grave, too, sweetness.
- Fury: You know, he's even uglier than I remember, your frozen pop sicko. Get it, Andrea? Pop sicko? You know, that's the problem with the Third Reich. No sense'a humor.
| Nick Fury: Agent of Shield
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|September 30, 2008||1||