In order to enjoy this article you're going to have to ignore years upon years of established continuity and source material. I know how hard that is for a lot of you but bear with me anyway. Also there's some racial material in here, let's not go crazy, I'm not choosing sides I'm just telling the story how it was portrayed in the movie. My race has nothing to do with it.
Before he was tired of MFin snakes on MFin planes or holding white women prisoner Samuel L. Jackson played one of the baddest men alive: Shaft. The nephew of the baddest man alive, also named Shaft. 12 years later he would move on to play the baddest spy alive Nick Fury in the Avengers. These two movies despite both being action in genre may seem like an odd choice to pair together. The Avengers being about a fantastical world that has superheroes, aliens and an angry green guy; while Shaft is about an ex-cop going outside the law to try and break down the divides of prejudice and economic class to bring a villain to justice, when the law won't help him. These two not only differ in scope, genre, time, and direction but are also different in themes, one portraying that a team is greater than the sum of it's parts while the other shows that all men are fundamentally the same and deserve to be treated the same and that one man can change the world. However with a little imagination I think something interesting could link these two movies together.
Nope, honest. Let's look at the story of Shaft. Shaft was a police officer who had gotten fed up with how unfair the system of law was in regards to holding certain people above others. Mainly how rich white men were able to get away with anything, even murder of a black man, due to having money and education to get the best legal team. Shaft has always been routed in Blaxploitation and race relations". Shaft leaves the police department deciding to bring in the criminal on his own terms. Spoiler Alert: long story short, Shaft stops the bad guys and saves the day. The important detail to note is that in the end he doesn't return to being a police officer but rather continues to handle crimes on his own terms as a private detective with his uncle.
Now thinking of a future for Shaft we could think reason that Shaft would never imagine taking on another job where he would have to be an emplolyee rather than his own boss. Still, he may want to expand one day. What better way to expand than to be in charge of his own agency filled with private investigators that he would oversee. That's where Nick Fury comes in.
What makes a spy a good spy? One could argue that it is being secretive and mysterious, never letting anyone know too much about you while you know everything about them. Blending in well while also standing out. What could be a bigger secret than your real name? It's very possible that John Shaft II could have been approached by his good friend Alexander Pierce, that he met sometime during his past, about leaving his old life behind and becoming the new director of Shield. Why would the World Security Council possibly say no? He has shown to be greatly respected in his community, he has proven to be resourceful, and show great initiative when it comes to always getting his man. He would be exactly the mix of fresh blood and seasoned veteran they'd be looking for in the next leader of Shield.
Reasons It Could Be True
We don't know a whole lot about the back story of Shaft. We only know that Shaft is the nephew of the original Shaft. He may have shown up in a past movie as a child but beyond that it's not really any evidence of anything. He could have served in the army before becoming a police officer. He could have just been a really good police officer and met Alexander Pierce sometime along the story. It's not like he hates white people, he'll backhand a black person just as quick, he just wants to see justice served without the red tape that allows a lot of villains to go free. So it's not unlikely that he could have been close friends with Pierce at sometime or another even during the events of the Shaft film.
We don't know a whole lot about Nick Fury's past. Despite comic continuity we don't know a whole lot about current Nick Fury. We only know that he met Alexander Pierce at some time and lost his eye at another time. We don't even know if he lost his eye before or after he joined Shield or how old it is. We very well could have lost it between 1999-2000 when the Shaft movie was feature and 2008 when he showed up in IronMan. We could ever infer that the loss of said eye is what made Pierce believe that Fury was the best man for the job.
It wouldn't take long for a new name to catch on. Shield was a secret organization, relatively unknown even to the likes of Tony Stark and General Ross. It wasn't until the more publicized actions started to happen that Shield was brought out to the forefront. It would be possible that Shaft would need a new identity in order to lead Shield. It wouldn't be good if everyone from the old neighborhood still rememebered Shaft as he was driving down the street.
Despite Shaft and Fury having vastly different personalities we could easily attribute that to both age and experiences. Shaft losing his eye and the pressures of having to keep the world turning could easily cause him to take on a more hardened and stoic temperament.
The world didn't really know about heroes other than Captain America. Shield was still in the underground, Hydra was in the history books and none of these events would have greatly impacted the situation that Shaft found himself in. He was very small time in comparison to the large scope that Shield handles. At the time the world is relatively the same so there's no gaurantee there would be any mention of a superhero or anything of that nature. It all could have been going on behind the scenes but no one knew. If we were to time it out Hulk didn't even come out until 2003, 3 years later. Even the previous Shaft came out in the 70s, long after Captain America was put on ice. Long enough that people would no longer be mourning him or bringing him up in random conversation; he'd just be a museum exhibit.
It's really reason 6 but I like having 5 reasons so this is the "bonus reason". Shaft left the police to live his life as a private detective on the outside of the law doing things his own way. Nick Fury uses the Avengers despite his superiors in the World Security Council not believing it's a good idea. Nick Fury keeps secrets and always play things to where he can come out on top. His time as Shaft a small time police detective could have influenced this kind of lifestyle. Dealing face to face with small time criminals gives him a unique perspective in the ways of thinking of a criminal. Also, despite the fact that everyone in Shield seems to have a history with Nick Fury it can be argued that twelve years of risking your life together can grow an unspoken bond. Much like serving in the army or things of that nature.
In conclusion: With a little imagination, you can bear witness to your very own Nick Fury origin movie. Two movies that are probably not going to be shown together anytime soon, unless it's Samuel L Jackson night at your local dollar theater, now can be reasonably linked together. While all of this is complete conjecture I think I've provided decent enough evidence to at least prove that it's a possiblity. Nick Fury is now the baddest mother 'shut your mouth' What? I'm just talking about Fury.