"Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe."
Nick Fury, at the end of Iron Man: "You think you're the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe; you just don't know it yet."
How will Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Avenger Initiative (and possibly General Ross?) specifically interact with the Iron Man 2 story? Will they become an integral part, where Stark really starts to get into this "bigger universe" and gets on-board with the Initiative, or will they be more sort of pushed aside while remaining a small factor, somewhat similar to Agent Colson's role in the first movie? There are benefits and disadvantages to each of these two approaches.
-Benefits: Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. playing an integral role would help lead Iron Man 2 directly into the Avengers movie and get people really, really excited for it. It could also very naturally introduce 1 or 2 other superheroes (Thor? Cap? Ant-Man?), proving that Iron Man really isn't "the only one in the world." It could also put bring that sweet Captain America shield into the limelight. This approach very naturally and smoothly kicks the Avenger Initiative into a higher gear and yet still waits for them all to assemble in the big one.
-Disadvantages: This approach would strip Iron Man (and unfortunately Robert Downey Jr.) of the center stage and would turn into more of a big Avengers trailer than an Iron Man movie. It would rob fans of getting into the Iron Man world as it would put less emphasis on important Iron Man stories and villains.
-Benefits: Nick Fury and the Avenger Initiative playing an insignificant role would build on what is established in the first Iron Man--Stark's fun irreverence and somewhat self-focused story. I can picture RDJ doing more of the "avoiding government agents" thing while Sam Jackson continually tries to get a hold of him. Stark's idea of "the next mission" could start off as dissimilar to Fury's. This allows for an Iron Man story to be told, not an Avenger Initiative story. And by the end of Iron Man 2 (in other words, by the time he beats the Mandarin, Justin Hammer or whatever his company or he personally is up against), he can then be ready to get cracking with Fury on the Avenger Initiative.
-Disadvantages: This approach might somewhat ignore Fury's post-credits statements at the end of Iron Man and possibly leave fans wondering why Stark still seems to be "the only superhero in the world" and not yet "part of a bigger universe." Mere cameos and winks and nods don't seem to be what Fury meant, and they definitely weren't what Stark was describing at the end of The Incredible Hulk. This approach almost puts the Avenger Initiative on the backburner, when logically and by continuity it should be a part of the story.
I'd like to see a balance of the two approaches, with a lean towards the second. Iron Man 2 should be an Iron Man story, but there needs to be a way to set that story in that "bigger universe"--it needs to be bigger than simply cameos, but less than an integral part. The Avenger Initiative also needs to take a step forward. There are threads here about Thor and Hulk, but I think the key is Fury. How they use him will determine that balance.
How would you guys and gals approach putting Fury in Iron Man 2?