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Samuel L. Jackson Talks About Nick Fury's Role In Captain Marvel

Samuel L. Jackson can't wait to show us how Nick Fury became part of a bigger universe.

The legendary actor recently sat down with Collider on the set of Marvel Studios' upcoming Captain Marvel to discuss (among other things) how the events of the film informed Fury's approach to the emergence of the Avengers. Digitally de-aged nearly 30 years for the flick, Jackson will be showing us a side of the superspy we haven't seen before — a lowly S.H.I.E.L.D. desk jockey, forced to reexamine his assumptions about the world and his place in it when he finds himself caught up in the middle of a conflict between the Kree and the Skrulls, intergalactic warrior races who have been at odds for centuries.

Asked if he thought he'd ever get a chance to explore Fury's backstory, Jackson offered a characteristically brief response ("No") before being prompted to elaborate. "We always look forward to figuring out stuff that, you know, people don't know or might not understand [such as] the evolution of Nick Fury... His job right now, his place in the world is to find out where the next enemy's coming from. And like most sane human beings with a job like that, you figure that the next enemy is some other country or somewhere else, and all of a sudden he discovers something that we speculate about and now we know it's — well, he knows — it's true that there are other beings in the universe; not just us. The next problem will be convincing everybody else that's true."

The actor described Captain Marvel's younger Fury as "not as jaded about the world yet. He hasn't grown into his cynicism quite yet," while still possessed of the healthy caution — suspicion, even — innate to all successful S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. In regard to Fury's relationship with the insanely superpowered young woman who literally falls out of the sky, Jackson said, "She looks like us, yes, but she also showed up with these things that can shape-shift. So, is she what she appears to be? Is she a safe individual? Is she a dangerous individual? All those things come to mind. Spending time with her, he discovers things about her that, you know, lead him to believe that she is something other than what she has presented herself to be or even knows herself to be. So, during the course of interacting with her, they do become compatriots. They have a shared sense of humor."

Jackson went on to address the fan-favorite status of his character ("They missed me a little bit, didn't they? I haven't been in like the last six movies. They sent me on a road trip and didn't let me come home") and his own personal connection to Nick Fury. "You sort of earn a reputation for being able to embody specific characters in specific ways... I tend to sometimes just choose movies because they're movies I would've gone to see when I was a kid," he says. "[The Marvel Cinematic Universe is] a joyous place for me to be, to come and forget about who I am, what's going on in my house, what's going on in the world. I can't listen to the news every day, so to come here and to go into a world that has its own rules and to create a character that doesn't know anything about any of that, is a wonderful escape for me and, you know, it helps keep me sane."

Asked if he felt pressure taking on a major supporting role in Marvel's first female-led superhero film, Jackson admitted he hadn't actually thought about it that way ("I thought I was the star of the movie," he deadpanned) before pondering his response. "I have a daughter and I have a wife who feels undervalued, because she is a black woman... and she's been in this business longer than I have. She was a professional actor when she was a kid... and she's a specific body type and a specific skin tone, which is not the preferred skin tone of this business, basically. I mean, Viola Davis is the biggest dark skinned star. Being able to uplift women in a very specific way — I grew up in a house full of women who always made me feel special,  and made me toe a specific line — I understand a lot about who they are and what they felt just because I heard it.  And I had to experience it every day, how hard the world is for women specifically."

Jackson went on to gush over Brie Larson, an Academy Award winner who he implies knew exactly what she was doing when she accepted the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. "To work with Brie, who has a very politically aware sense of self, who's not afraid to use her platform to push female agendas, has been a real joy," he said, noting that Captain Marvel is his third time working with Larson. "To be a part of this specific story where she has such an enormous responsibility, especially in the success of the Marvel Universe and what it means every time there's a Marvel film. And to look at what happened last year with Wonder Woman. DC almost figured it out with that movie. To know what's going to happen when this movie does actually hit theaters for women and little girls is going to be amazing... it has been a real honor for me, because I want Brie to succeed in a very real, very strong way."

Jackson was quick to draw a comparison to Black Panther, a film with a largely African-American cast and crew which managed to gross even more than the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War domestically. "They figured it out; there's a Marvel playbook that works," he said. "I mean, as out of the box as people think Black Panther was, it's part of Marvel's playbook. It just happens to have black people in it. And this is a Marvel movie being made through the Marvel playbook and it just happens to be a strong female character in it. And it will hopefully incite people the way Black Panther [did] when we saw it, you know? So I'm really proud to be part of it."

Marvel Studios is certainly pulling out all of the promotional stops for Captain Marvel; in just the last day, we've gotten a new trailer, a set of striking new posters, and a behind-the-scenes featurette of the type normally reserved for Blu-Ray releases. As if we weren't pumped enough already, Jackson's excitement over the project has us literally on the edge of our seats. The flick will touch down on the big screen on March 8, but heads up — tickets are on sale now.