To get psyched (well, more psyched) for this weekend’s Avengers, I’ve been spending a little time catching up with the previous films. Y’know, Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury…
Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD is what happens when a not-all-that-bad-actually script by David Goyer meets the two things that can utterly destroy it: Soap opera actors and a mid-90’s TV-movie budget of I’m assuming about five hundred bucks.
I imagine Goyer’s initial enthusiasm upon hearing his script had gotten picked up (“Oh man, first Blade and now Nick Fury? Things are finally looking up for ol’ Lucky Dave! What’s next, BATMAN?!”) was crushed pretty completely fairly early on, but I’m not sure which piece of information would’ve really done it:
“Well Dave, it’s gonna be on Fox. And even though this format hasn’t worked for Doctor Who or Generation X, they seem to want to keep on trying.”
“And we’ve got David Hasselhoff attached. He’s got some interesting ideas on how to play Fury. Something about ‘crazy, sweaty, a bit drunk, and walking around in this weird bowlegged crouch like he’s got a load in his pants.’”
Which isn’t to say Goyer’s Fury doesn’t lend itself to a certain hamminess. You remember in Iron Man 2 where Samuel L. Jackson says, “And Tony? I’ve got my EYE on you” and he gives a look like even he can’t believe they left that line in?
Jackson’s got nothing on Hasselhoff’s Fury. This dude is a motherfucking quip MACHINE. There is not a single line in here where he goes for “conveying information” when “pithy and dickish one-liner” is an available option.
Here, here, look:
“Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine. Quite a mouthful when you try and wrap your tongue around it. Don’t let the blue blood fool ya, Pierce. Val’s an old hand at the sexpionage game, aren’t ya?”
[Fury has been injected with deadly Columbian tree frog poison] “Brilliant. How long do I have before Kermit bites me the big one?”
Von Strucker: [flips up Fury’s eyepatch] An electronic lock-pick!
Fury: Oh, there it is. I thought I left it in my other patch.
This guy will not stop with the quipping, to the point where the movie could probably be retitled Nick Fury: Doesn’t Understand The Gravity Of The Situation.
He does not get the movie’s best over-the-top “Well that’s certainly a way to phrase it, I guess…” line. That belongs to Clay Quartermain, who marches up to a bunch of Hydra agents while shot in the gut, draws his gun and shouts, “Let us rock! AND LET US ROLLLLLLLLLL!!!”
And is then shot some more. Say what you like, but it’s pretty bad-ass to use your last words to try to reclaim a worn-out cliché.
I would imagine the presence of the Hoff in the lead role inspired Sandra Hess to ramp up her own camp levels as the villainess Andrea Von Strucker, but I’m not sure that even accounts for her accent. The accent is…it’s as if she had never heard a German accent before, and someone described how it might sound, and she just started winging it from there.
So it’s German, by way of Scottish, with a bit of Yiddish in there, and there’s points where she just flat-out mispronounces words:
“Izznt dat sveet. I assume this is Neek Fughy? Vell…Revench vill be mine!”
“Luk aht yoo. My fadder’s tusted wootenants! I see the rrrremnants of what was once deh gleatess teggowist aganozation squabbling lik enimals fogh tibble sclaps!”
But despite its general terribleness, the actual plot is exactly what a SHIELD movie would look like (Hydra’s got some death’s head virus they’re gonna release, Nick and a small team have to track it down before it goes off – basically a season of 24 if CTU had a flying base) and there’s a bunch of those weird Steranko spy-fi touches (a disguise spray, a fake eyeball that’s an explosive, Hydra minions that are these pasty bald zombie Nazis – I’m just assuming on that last one, their appearances aren’t actually explained).
It’s just…all that’s done about as well as you can expect with a shooting schedule of one holiday weekend, a director whose vision is “I dunno, maybe we’ll make it look a bit like the old Batman show?”, the aforementioned “Fox back when Cops was its big moneymaker” budget, and a lead actor whose base level of sweaty is “Pretty sweaty.”
What I’m saying is, you replace Hasselhoff with Samuel L. Jackson, Lisa Rinna with Cobie Smulders and literally any of the other actors with Clark Gregg, and give it a movie budget? Then you give ol’ Lucky Dave Goyer a call.
He’s probably still got a copy of this script in a drawer somewhere, and if you ask him nicely, I’m sure he’d be willing to de-quip-ify the dialogue by as much as 40%.