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When Captain Marvel hits theaters next month, audiences will see younger versions of characters like Nick Fury and Phil Coulson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the mid-1990s. That means that the film had to digitally de-age Samuel L. Jackson some 25 years. It might have been easier to recast the role, but according to Captain Marvel producer Jonathan Schwartz, that was never a consideration, as he said:
Thankfully, both Clark and Sam look amazing, which is a big help for us, but there will be a little bit of that. It's certainly more shots than we've had to do in other movies. We've de-aged Robert [Downey Jr.], who looks amazing, and Kurt [Russell], who also looks amazing, we've been very lucky with the actors who've gone through this process. But this will be significantly more in a movie than we've ever done before, which is a fun challenge to have, but I don't think we could ever ask someone to step into Sam Jackson's shoes, so I'm glad we're doing it.
As Jonathan Schwartz told CinemaBlend during a Captain Marvel set visit, the producers never even thought about recasting Nick Fury for the younger version that will appear in the film. Asking another actor to take on the daunting task of trying to fill Samuel L. Jackson’s shoes is simply unimaginable and something that Jonathan Schwartz doesn’t think they would ever attempt.
So although casting someone else to play a Nick Fury that is a quarter century younger might have been the easier choice, it was really no choice at all: Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury. That meant digitally de-aging the actor, which provided a unique set of challenges. But it sounds like having actors like Samuel L. Jackson and co-star Clark Gregg who look great for their ages certainly helps that process.
Samuel L. Jackson already looks much younger than he is, but Captain Marvel still required him to be de-aged to look younger in the 1990s time period of the film. And while Marvel has amazed with de-aging technology in the past, such as with Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War and Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the challenge of de-aging Samuel L. Jackson in Captain Marvel is one of quantity.
Unlike those brief scenes with Kurt Russell and Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury appears to have a fair bit of screen time in Captain Marvel judging by the trailers. Jonathan Schwartz emphasized this point, saying that there are more shots requiring the digital facelift than the previous uses of the technology in the MCU, making the project significantly bigger and more challenging.
It sounds like they relish that challenge though and appreciate the opportunity to use the technology to allow Nick Fury to be in the film and Samuel L. Jackson to continue to play him.
Marvel’s de-aging technology has impressed in the past and from what we’ve seen of Captain Marvel so far, it looks like the studio has outdone itself giving us younger versions of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson.
The Ultimate version of Nick Fury used in the MCU was designed after Samuel L. Jackson in the first place, so it’s great that he’ll get to continue to play the role that was essentially made for him. Captain Marvel also appears to give Nick Fury his biggest role in an MCU film yet. So we want to see the man who has inhabited the role since his 2008 Iron Man cameo get to portray his character as he goes through a pivotal arc.