Details of Nick Fury's early life and career are sketchy and contradictory. He has claimed both that he was orphaned as a child, and that his mother is still alive; that he graduated college in India less than a decade ago and that he personally contributed to the end of the Cold War. Regardless, his status as a "war hero" is generally considered unquestionable. He has also said he has been prepared to die since the age of eighteen, but what happened then and how it affected his life remains a mystery.
Years ago, Fury worked closely with spy Clint Barton (a.k.a. Hawkeye) to develop S.H.I.E.L.D., a worldwide high-tech security organization; however, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s directorship itself went to Fury's commanding officer, General Ross. Fury participated in the Gulf War, during which he lost an eye and the mutant adventurer Wolverine saved his life. When the most recent revival of the U.S. super-soldier program failed to yield results for six years, Fury recommended private enterprises offer competitive bids to develop the required technology and procedures. Companies such as Norman Osborn's Oscorp and Hammer Industries vied for this government contract, experimenting upon and empowering both willing and unwilling subjects. Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. developed the technology that would empower some of the government operatives known as the Ultimates. Fury is both directly and indirectly responsible for the recent, sudden upsurge of non-mutant super humans. Fury personally cut ties between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Oscorp, earning him the hatred of Osborn, who soon mutated himself into the Green Goblin.
Around the same time, Fury went to significant trouble to free Wolverine from the mutant-enslaving Weapon X, a barely controlled subdivision of S.H.I.E.L.D. Interestingly, this was the same timeframe as Magneto's break with his fellow mutant scholar, Charles Xavier Whether or not Fury anticipated Wolverine's subsequent intervention in their conflict is unclear. Fury also participated in various activities of questionable legality in his quest for advanced technology, such as cooperating with a Latverian effort to steal Tony Stark's Iron Man technology.
Not long ago, Fury (now a colonel) was sent to Delhi, India, to investigate alleged violations of international superhuman test-ban treaties. He discovered a major project involving mass replication of mutant DNA, but was captured by enemy operatives. En route to Nepal, where the international secrets he held were to be auctioned off, Fury was rescued by the X-Men, at this time unwilling operatives of Weapon X. Shortly afterward, acting on a recorded message left by Wolverine, Fury led a S.H.I.E.L.D. invasion of the Weapon X facility, shutting down its inhumane operations and personally executing unit leader John Wraith. In the operation's aftermath, Fury established peaceful relations with the X-Men and recruited Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, leaders of the Brotherhood of Mutants, as covert government operatives.
When General Ross stepped down from S.H.I.E.L.D. directorship, Fury, promoted to general, took his place. One of his first initiatives was the establishment of a black ops unit of mutant trainees, among them the mind-controlling Karma. Also serving in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s black ops division under Fury were his old friend Hawkeye and ex-K.G.B. espionage legend the Black Widow, whom Fury had personally recruited. Fury also gave the super-soldier program its first serious jumpstart in years, playing upon concern over mutant terrorists to win unprecedented funding used to form the Ultimates, a combination of mutants, mutated humans and wielders of advanced technology. This team included the recently recovered Captain America, and operated out of the high-tech base called the Triskelion. The Ultimates faced an array of personal conflicts and controversies, notably project deputy Bruce Banner's transformation into the monstrous Hulk. Hulk's destructive rampage was halted by the Ultimates, though S.H.I.E.L.D. concealed the Hulk's true identity from the public. Despite this, Fury forged the Ultimates in to a unique fighting team just in time to save the world from extraterrestrial Chitauri invaders (thanks in part to last-minute manipulation of the Hulk) guaranteeing the team a place in the world's heart.
Meanwhile, an insane Norman Osborn planned to extort young Peter Parker (alias Spider-Man) in to helping him assassinate Fury. Anticipating this move, Fury introduced himself to Parker, taking him into his confidence and promising whatever assistance S.H.I.E.L.D. could legally provide against Osborn. After Spider-Man defeated the Goblin, Fury took Osborn into custody, where he was soon joined by more of Spider-Man's superhuman adversaries. Recognizing his own role in the experiments that mutated these men, Fury planned to give them his personal attention, but was distracted by the return of Magneto, believed dead after a fight with the X-Men months before. When Magneto and his Brotherhood attacked the Brooklyn Bridge, killing hundreds, the X-Men were implicated and Fury directed the Ultimates against both groups while overseeing presidential safety and developing new defenses. The X-Men ultimately defeated Magneto and Fury, remembering the debt he owed them, arranged for them to come under federal jurisdiction as a specialized peacekeeping unit. However, Fury soon learned that the X-Men would hardly be his most cooperative charges. Recruited by an anti-mutant government faction intent on overthrowing the President., they interfered with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s investigation of decommissioned Weapon X operatives,
Fury undermined his own credibility when he asked Wolverine to murder a teenage mutant who had inadvertently killed an entire town and whose actions, if revealed, seemed certain to stoke uncontrollable anti-mutant hysteria. His trust in Fury and the X-Men eroded by this operation, the President agreed to form public ties with Emma Frost's mutant student body. However, this move finally drove the anti-mutant rebel faction into open treason, and they attacked the President's press conference with Sentinel robots. The X-Men destroyed the Sentinels, and Fury's agent Karma exposed the conspirators, restoring the administration's faith in Fury and the X-Men.
Meanwhile, Osborn languished in the Triskelion's detention block alongside fellow super-criminals Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Electro, and Kraven the Hunter. Fury intended to hold the five indefinitely, discarding their right to trial, in order to learn their secrets and keep them from harming the public. Under Osborn's leadership, the prisoners escaped and attempted to extort money from the President lest they implicate him in Fury's activities, of which the President had been unaware. Fury rallied the Ultimates and Spider-Man to defeat Osborn's forces, but victory did not blind a shaken Fury to his own role in the fiasco.
When Earth was plagued by a powerful psionic distress call which sparked mass suicides, Fury and a select team of Ultimates traced the call to an abandoned Russian base in Tunguska. The team discovered an alien android called Vision, sent to Earth nearly a century before to warn humanity of a looming destructive force called Gah Lak Tus. Fury entrusted Vision to one of his contracted specialists, Sam Wilson. The fact that Vision's distress warning had been pre-empted by Russian attempts to cannibalize him for parts in their own super-soldier project was not lost on Fury, who began to feel overwhelmed by the events he had helped set into motion.
Fury has since suffered one setback after another, as his ties with the X-Men grew more tenuous and his friend Spider-Man began to seem more of a potential threat than an ally. His job was further complicated by the alien Kree, who stationed observers (including the defector Captain Marvel) to record Earth's death throes at the mercy of "Galactus". With the exposure of the Hulk's connection to the Ultimates and Thor's apparent breakdown, the Ultimates have suffered additional scandal. Their growing international activity has led some to regard Fury as a loose cannon ready to ignite a superhuman world war. To remove a potential wild card, Fury arranged for his own assassination by Mister Nix, perhaps the deadliest political assassin on Earth. Fury killed Nix during the attempt. With the ranks of superhuman criminals growing and threats from outer space rising, Fury's responsibilities to the U.S. and the world seem to get heavier every day, and it remains to be seen how far he will go in fulfilling them.
An optimistic Reed Richards, in pursuit of a cure for his best friend, Ben Grimm, requested S.H.I.E.L.D. permission and funds to send inter-dimensional data retrieval probes to various universes. Nick Fury, fearing inter-dimensional wars, refuses to allow this and forbids Reed to this on his own. Despite Fury's orders, Reed sends various probes. A few days later,the Squadron Supreme, a group of superheros, of the Supremeverse arrest Reed and take him to their respective Earth for his heinous crime, destroying their Earth. Nick Fury immediately begins assembling a rescue team from elements of the X-Men, Ultimates and Fantastic Four as well as Spider-man. Once there it was revealed that Nick Fury was actually working with the greatest criminal mind of the Supremeverse, Emil Burbank,and Doctor Doom in an attempt to rule and destroy their Earth. Once he has been outed, the Ultimates, X-Men, Fantastic Four along with Reed Richards, and Spider-man hand over Nick Fury to the Squadron Supreme as prisoner until they can find Doctor Doom. Because he's prisoner to a foreign Earth, Carol Danvers is now the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and is looking into all of Nick Fury's confidential information.