January 23, 2014 1:26pm PT by Graeme McMillan
How Much Nick Fury Does Marvel Have Left?
Since Iron Man and the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one thing has been a constant throughout Marvel Studios' output: the knowledge that Samuel L. Jackson was out there in a leather trench coat somewhere, wearing an eyepatch and chewing the scenery as S.H.I.E.L.D. boss Nick Fury. But what if that sense of security -- and that character -- were gone?
"I just know that the Marvel Universe is there, that there are things going on, and that I have three pictures left on my nine-picture deal. That's all I know," Jackson told Fandango recently when asked about his future inside the Marvel movie universe. (For those who are counting, the six movies are Iron Man; Iron Man 2; Thor; Captain America: The First Avenger; Avengers; and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)
"I've done six [Marvel movies], and I'm about to do [number] seven," he continued, "so I'm running out of Marvel pictures -- unless they extend my contract." The seventh movie is 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, which starts production in March. This means that we can expect this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy to be Fury-free, despite the reported use of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the movie -- and suggests that Edgar Wright's Ant-Man won't be enjoying anything more than a cameo from Jackson at the very most.
For his part, Jackson said "Why wouldn't I?" when asked if he'd sign up for nine more movies, cementing his fondness for the role. (Also see his cameo on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which apparently happened outside of his contract for the movies.) The question is whether Marvel Studios would be willing to pay for the pleasure -- or simply retire Nick and find a new head of its paramilitary spy organization. Say, Cobie Smulders should have a lot of time on her hands when How I Met Your Mother wraps, right?