Long before Samuel L. Jackson made the Marvel character his own and assembled The Avengers, David Hasselhoff was Nick Fury: Agent Of SHIELD in a 1998 film which saw Fury come back to SHIELD after leaving the organisation to take on Hydra.
While "The Hoff" may sound like a goofy casting choice today and, it frankly did even back then, it's hard to deny that he does fit the look of the character in the comics at the time so could it be that the film was dismissed by critics and audiences solely based on Hasselhoff's reputation and past work? If not solely, then certainly partly because, while the actor gets to say some pretty cheesy lines throughout this film, his performance actually works: he's believably tough and wears the iconic eyepatch well. We first meet Nick Fury at a point in time when he's left SHIELD and is reluctant to join the organisation again but when Hydra kills an old partner of his, he is hired back and is soon ready to kick ass. The film assumes we all know what Hydra and SHIELD are, who Nick Fury is and what the hell is going on and, if you're a comic-book fan then it's obvious, but for a mass audience in the late 90's this couldn't have been palatable.
David S. Goyer writes the script and he does a really good job at bringing a lot of characters from the comics to life and telling an involving SHIELD story but he forgets to include something to grab those not in the know: perhaps an opening sequence showing Captain America working with Fury? Red Skull as a main villain rather than the Von Strucker children? As it stands, there is no real build-up to any of it and it's easy to feel like you've stumbled onto the middle of an established franchise without having seen any of the other instalments. Another thing the film could have included is more action sequences, or more impressive action sequences at least, and some colourful Hydra iconography to give it some life. Not that it's a particularly dull movie, in fact quite the opposite, but it's fun in the way that The Punisher starring Dolph Lundgren was fun: low-budget, over-the-top, dumb and corny yet likeable and entertainingly clichéd.
Had the film been released a year after the 1990 Captain America movie and included some scenes with Cap himself, it's possible that this Nick Fury film would have been better received than it was because not only did it pop up in 1998, a year after a very poor run of comic-book movies (Steel, Batman & Robin), but it looked like it was made in the early 90's and sat on the shelf forever before seeing the light of day. That said, this is an enjoyable flick with enough obscure references and Arnie-style one-liners to keep both comic-book fans and action movie buffs happy. Yes it's silly and makes some questionable decisions like not explaining why some people have super-powers or having an unnecessarily obvious twist halfway through but for a TV movie it ticks most of the right boxes.
Nick Fury: Agent Of SHIELD may not be the pinnacle of comic-book movie adaptations and some will still toss it aside as just a bad David Hasselhoff movie without having seen it but this remains an entertaining, well-meaning effort packed with Marvel lore those new Captain America fans should probably go back and revisit, out of curiosity at least.