Variety has some of the details, but I notice they don't exactly offer up what sort of financial incentive was involved in getting Samuel L. Jackson to sign a deal that involves not only his "Iron Man 2" appearance, but also options for him to show up in as many as nine other films as Nick Fury.

This is an important deal for Marvel, one I'm not surprised they made.  Fury is a pivotal character in the universe that Marvel's been creating onscreen over the last few films, a lynchpin, and if the ultimate goal here is to get to "The Avengers," they're going to have to have Nick Fury onboard.  And now, thank god, they do.

I'm hoping that the "nine films" thing implies that there is a "S.H.I.E.L.D." movie coming in addition to "The Avengers," 'cause I love the idea of Jackson actually headlining one of these.  Fury's a great character because he's not super-powered, but he is older than he appears thanks to an anti-aging serum that I'm sure 90% of Hollywood would eat a baby to get their hands on.  As a result, Fury's played a key role in Marvel continuity for decades, and when Marvel created the Ultimates line, Fury was recast in the image of Samuel L. Jackson, a move that proved popular with fans.  It also gave Jackson one hell of a bargaining chit in his discussions with Marvel about what he's worth.

[more after the jump]

His appearance at the end of "Iron Man" was basically geekbait, but then including Robert Downey's Tony Stark in "The Incredible Hulk" started to lay out a real master plan for how to take these disparate properties and eventually tie them all together.  It appears that they're taking cues now from the Ultimates line and from the regular Marvel universe, and that blending is actually working for them.

There's a long way to go for Marvel until they actually have "The Avengers" in theaters (and since Warner Bros. just announced they're releasing the last Harry Potter film on the same day, that's primed to be the biggest box-office weekend in history), but this is a major step in the right direction, and I'm glad they worked things out.

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