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MCU’s Nick Fury vs. DCEU’s Amanda Waller: who would win in a battle of wits?

After what seems like ages, Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury in the MCU with the six-episode Disney+ series Secret Invasion. The mastermind behind the Avengers initiative played a crucial role in the Infinity Saga’s first two phases before fading into the background for the series’ climactic chapter. However, he is back in the spotlight as the lead in the Secret Invasion event, which will adapt one of Marvel’s most iconic storylines from the 2000s.

Fury isn’t the only architect-like figure heading to television to lead his own project. Over at DC, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller is also getting a show on Max that serves as a spinoff to Peacemaker. Davis’ Waller has long been one of the few bright spots of the struggling live-action DC Universe, so it makes sense that James Gunn would want to showcase her in his new universe.

It’s rather interesting and probably not coincidental that these two characters are getting the same treatment. Fury and Waller could very well be counterparts, representing the more ruthless and secretive aspects of their respective universes, not to mention the government side of superhero antics. True, Waller is far more villainous than Fury, but they fulfill the same role, acting as masterminds pulling the strings from behind the scenes. And should they ever come face-to-face, they would give each other a worthy fight. But who would come out on top?

His is the Fury

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in Secret Invasion.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Academy Award nominee Jackson debuted in the MCU during Iron Man‘s post-credit scene. He ominously teases the eventual formation of the Avengers to a then-confused Tony Stark and reappears in Iron Man 2 beside his loyal ally, Natasha Romanoff. Fury plays his first major role in the MCU in The Avengers, formally assembling the Avengers and acting as the big honcho his early appearances teased him as. Fury returns in a major supporting role in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where he apparently dies as Captain America discovers HYDRA has compromised S.H.I.E.L.D.

The Avengers and The Winter Soldier establish Fury’s characterization and role within the MCU. Secretive, manipulative, stoic, and decisive, Fury is a man of action; he does what needs to be done and remains level-headed, even in the face of certain doom. One could say Fury has become desensitized after years of witnessing the worst of humankind, but he is still sympathetic to the greater good. For example, he openly opposes the Council’s choice to nuke New York during the battle against the Chitauri and shows his softer side to his closest allies, mainly Maria Hill, Natasha Romanoff, and Carol Danvers.

Fury takes something of a back seat during Phase 3, with Captain Marvel as the sole exception. He hardly plays a meaningful role in the Infinity Saga’s massive conclusion, Avengers: Endgame, and his participation in Spider-Man: Far From Home is revealed as a ruse by the Skrulls. Like most of the MCU’s original characters, Fury has been largely absent from Phase Four, and Secret Invasion will be the first time we see Fury back in action since 2019.

Called “The Spy” by Tony Stark, Fury is a man of many contradictions; in Tony’s words, “his secrets have secrets.” However, he isn’t a cold-blooded killer, nor does he lack the moral instincts to differentiate right from wrong. Fury isn’t someone for whom the end justifies the means; he has a surprisingly ethical approach to spying, and while he isn’t above lying, manipulating, deceiving, and occasionally even using others for his advantage, he isn’t necessarily ruthless.

No one crosses this Wall

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller in 2016's Suicide Squad
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Over at DC, Amanda Waller reigns supreme. Academy Award winner Davis first played Waller in David Ayer’s notoriously awful 2016 ensemble film Suicide Squad. Critics and audiences panned the film, but everyone agreed that Davis’ Amanda Waller was among its strongest assets and deserved better for her valiant efforts. Davis remained committed to her DC gig, returning for James Gunn’s 2021 follow-up, The Suicide Squad. Unlike its predecessor, the film was critically acclaimed, with Davis once again receiving rave reviews for her take on Waller. Finally, confirming her allegiance to Team Gunn, Davis appeared in a cameo in Gunn’s lauded series Peacemaker.

Like her comic book counterpart, Davis’ Waller is a nasty piece of work. Nicknamed “The Wall” by those who know her, Waller is infamous for her decisive and hard-hearted approach. Resourceful, intimidating, and often outright cruel, Waller is government ruthlessness embodied. She is as cold and unapproachable as the big institutions she represents, be it ARGUS, Checkmate, or some other nefarious organization. Waller isn’t afraid of using her power to bend her victims into submission, coercing them into following her orders without question.

Gunn is currently building his DC Universe, and the exact role Davis will play in the writer and director’s vision is still unclear. However, her presence in Gunn’s version of DC is almost a certainty; Davis is an acclaimed actress and one of DC’s biggest gets. Simply put, there’s no way Gunn will let such a valuable asset escape. Davis brings gravitas and dignity to any project she’s in, and her take on Waller is by far the best we’ve seen in live-action.

Whenever we see her again, Waller will surely be her ruthless self. She is an infamous figure in the DC Universe, known for her unyielding attitude and willingness to cross every moral boundary in service of her mission. For crying out loud, she injects explosive chips into the heads of her Suicide Squad, threatening to trigger them if they so much as look her way. Waller is a strategist: precise, controlling, manipulative, and relentless, capable of keeping up with Kryptonians, Atlanteans, and Amazons despite not having any superpower beyond her considerable intellect.

And the winner is …

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller sitting on a couch in Peacemaker.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In the battle of wits between Marvel and DC’s best, there can only be one winner — and it’s Amanda Waller. Nick Fury is a capable and mighty spy, but Waller is in a league of her own. Fury has boundaries; Waller has none. She has no issue sacrificing entire cities if it means keeping her secrets safe — she was willing to let all of Corto Maltese under fall Starro’s control without batting an eye.

Fury is a great spy: quick-witted, ingenious, influential, and capable. However, there’s a limit to his methods; the greater good will always prevail over his interests. That’s not the case for Waller, a woman who always has an ace up her sleeve. And while I wouldn’t go as far as saying she would outmaneuver Fury, she would certainly back him into a corner from which he wouldn’t escape.

So, all hail Amanda Waller, one of the best characters in the DC Universe, played by one of Hollywood’s best actresses. Here’s to Gunn keeping her in his DC Universe. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we see her in all her ruthless glory again.

Secret Invasion begins streaming on June 21.

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