There have been quite a few made-for-TV movies that have featured Marvel’s properties. Heck, remember when I watched Generation X for this feature? Well, two years after that film aired, Fox broadcasted another property from the iconic comic book publisher: Nick Fury. In this installment of Was It THAT Bad? I look back at a time when David Hasselhoff wasn’t taking roles that teased his career and was still a legitimate actor. That’s right, I watched Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Baron Wolfgang von Strucker is a former leader of Hydra, an old enemy of S.H.I.E.L.D. and also a frozen popsicle being stored by the secret government spy organization. After his body is stolen from the S.H.I.E.L.D. base (that doubles as Fox’s favorite set location for the 90s—a concrete room with lots of pipes and condensed air spraying randomly), Strucker’s children create a deadly virus that they plan to unleash in New York unless they get their ransom. Now it’s up to Colonel Nick Fury (Hasselhoff) to come out of retirement and save the day—and without running in slow motion or relying on a talking car that back-sasses a lot.
So, was it THAT bad?
Short Answer: A bit.
For all intents and purposes, Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t doing anything that is too noticeably bad. Sure, it’s low-budget but it’s on par with other made-for-TV features at the time. Granted, a lot of the cast is overacting the hell out of their roles and chewing on as much scenery as they can gorge themselves. I will also grant that the film’s story doesn’t really feel movie quality but rather like an action-based television show throwaway episode but, even then, it’s still serviceable for what this feature is and is aiming to be.
Additionally, even though I teased Hasselhoff at the beginning of this article (no one tell him I did that), he’s really not that bad in the role. While he is overacting quite a bit (actually, he’s completely and totally overacting) and being a bit of a ham in his delivery (seriously, I think he thought this was his very own George C. Scott in Patton role because, please his heart, he’s trying), ultimately he’s doing no different than everyone else is doing in their respective roles. At the very least, he actually looks the part in the fact he resembles the comic book counterpart and he’s not attempting an accent and failing horribly at it—that honor goes to Sandra Hess as Andrea von Strucker. Holy crackers and cheese, every line she had was unbearable.
So, what is it about this movie that kinda warrants the mixed reviews it got when it came out? Pretty simple, really: this movie is boring as hell. The story already has a feeling of being a throwaway episode of Nick Fury-based show but it’s compounded by little-to-no action. Even worse, when the film does try to have some characters engage in some fisticuffs, the end result is pretty laughably bad as the fights are horribly awkward and wooden. The rest of the film is just sluggishly going from one scene to the next and, despite the film centering on stopping a terrorist attack, the film never feels like there is any sense of urgency to the conflict and it just settles for lazily moving from plot point to plot point.
Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. is definitely a product of its time and feels like it was manufactured from a recipe of mediocre Marvel made-for-TV adaptations that existed in the 90s. While it may hit on some effects that look dated and some incredibly cheesy performances, the film is completely undone by its absolutely boring story—which, by the way, was written by David S. Goyer (Blade, Dark Knight). Ultimately, that kinda makes sense since his writing career seems to fluctuate between complete amazing and “What the hell was that?” Overall, the final product is just “meh.” It’s never good enough to be entertaining but it’s never bad enough to be hard to sit through. The whole thing feels very bare bones and routine—like everyone involved was just going through the motions of making a somewhat passable made-for-TV movie.