I had the chance to review Iron man 2 with some friends yesterday, and talking about it made me think about some things in relation to the upcoming batch of Marvel super hero movies.
First, I got to thinking about the use of foreshadowing and language in IM2. I don't think it's coincidence that "shields" keep coming up in conversation. The first instance I remember is when Justin Hammer says that the Iron Man armor is a "sword, but Tony Stark wants us to think it is a shield." Later, SHIELD director Nick Fury reveals Howard Stark was one of the founding members of SHIELD. And there is an awesome scene in which a half-finished Captain America shield makes an amusing appearance. I thought we might learn more about the SHIELD organization in this movie, but it remains very mysterious. But we do learn that it has been around for some time and is powerful enough to influence a the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Second, it is strongly hinted that Nick Fury has been around long enough to have known Howard Stark very well. In the comics, a Sergeant Nick Fury was the leader of the World War II Howling Commandos. Of course, this was original continuity white Nick Fury, not super-cool cat Samuel L. Jackson / Nick Fury. It's been reported that the Howling Commandos will be appearing in the Captain America movie. At first I thought it would take a major bit of historical revision to make SLJ Fury into a frontline combat soldier in World War II, but then it hit me how I'd write this...
I'd make the Howling Commandos an all-minority suicide squad of Dirty Dozen-like undesirables. The Army has no qualms sending them on the most dangerous and impossible missions and never really expects them to survive. But somehow, and despite a high casualty rate, a few of them always limp home. As the ultimate dirty tricks team, they are assigned to the same special missions command that houses the Super Soldier program. Captain America may be formidable, but he is only one man and needs some back-up, so he is partnered with Fury and his Howling Commandos. This gives him the chance to have one of those rousing, patriotic moments where he accepts these brave men as fellow American fighting for freedom.
Howard Stark, who we're told in the IM films was working on the Manhattan Project, was really working on the super soldier program, building gadgets -- like the original shield. This brings him into contact with Cap and Fury, and maybe even an earlier Gen. Ross -- father to the Gen. Ross who pursues the Hulk. These men would all form an organization to act as a "shield" against threats to freedom. "Strategic Homeland blah blah blah" would merely be a "back-ronym", perhaps the latest of several, for the black ops organization.
In my version, Fury would be badly wounded storming the Red Skull's SS fortress and get a blood transfusion from Captain America. Hence Fury's longevity.
In the comics continuity, the Nazi Red Skull created HYDRA after WWII. This could be the case in the movies too. HYDRA could be an umbrella, like SHIELD, which unifies threats against the good guys. It makes some sense that a Nazi-influenced HYDRA could try to reach out to the Norse God Loki (even if the Asgardians in the movies are an advanced alien race, it matters more what HYDRA believes they are), or they could be infiltrated by or partner with the Skrull. Who knows? But the plot possibilities open up.
It's a personal quirk, but I'd have another tie among the characters... I was intrigued by Nick Fury's statement to Tony Stark, "Believe it or not, you are not the center of my universe." And his urgent need to be elsewhere doing other things. It suggested this man knows of grave threats and is juggling to keep them all at bay. Fury is a man who knows things other men don't, and more to the point, he knows things others shouldn't know.
In mythology, the blind eye is often a symbol of sacrifice for knowledge. It suggests that sight has been exchanged for insight. The character that embodies this is Odin, Thor's father. I would find a moment to bring Odin together with Fury to acknowledge that both have made the same sacrifice and carry the same burden of knowing things others must be protected from.
Unfortunately, I'm not writing the Marvel movies. But if Marvel is looking for someone to review the scripts and find ways to tie them all together -- I could make myself available. I'm sure Joss Whedon could use a sidekick while writing that Avengers script. I work cheap -- Promise!