May 2, 2008
S.H.I.E.L.D. In Iron Man
The Marvel Universe's mysterious spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D. plays a pretty big role in this weekend's big comic book movie, Iron Man (which is pretty great). What that acronym actually stands for, however, has once again been changed. Though actor Clark Gregg, as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson, said it several times, all I was able to retain was that the H now stands for "Homeland." According to Wikipedia, the full name in Iron Man was, "Strategic Homeland Intervention, Espionage Logistics Directorate," only one word off from the current Marvel version, "Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage Logistics Directorate." The E might have actually stood for "Enforcement," though. (That sounds right.) Even in the Marvel Universe, what the acronym actually stands for has been changed. Back in the classic Jim Steranko days of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., it stood for "Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division." That was, of course, Stan Lee's tribute to U.N.C.L.E., and by far the silliest of the many silly word combinations harnessed to S.H.I.E.L.D. over the years. Overall, it's the acronym itself, and not what it stands for, that sounds cool!
The Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. himself even shows up eventually in Iron Man, but only after the end credits have rolled. And, no, I'm not talking about Iron Man, the current Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the comics (of course he's in the movie!); I'm talking about the famous one. Or the Ultimate Universe version of him, anyway. The applause was so loud in the theater where I saw it that I couldn't even hear his big line. I fear that Samuel L. Jackson's celluloid portrayal of Nick Fury will forever erase the classic Steranko version of the character I know and love so much, but at the same time the cameo is undeniably cool, and gave me definite goosebumps!