Remembering James Avery

I found out that actor James Avery died today. Avery’s death is one of those people who actually I feel sad about when I follow celebrity news stories. Most people knew him as ‘Uncle Phil’ from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a television show that was ubiquitous during the time I was becoming a teenager and through most of my teens. The many plot lines and gags were carried through with great pathos and humour in its various proportions. Uncle Phil represented a paternal figure to protagonist Will Smith’s character, yet at the same time was a father figure for the audience, too.

I have particular fondness for James Avery in two other roles. One, as Shredder in the Teenaged Mutant Hero Turtles animated series, which fewer people are aware of his role. Shredder’s voice was unforgettable and part of the zeitgeist of a generation of a certain age.

Perhaps among these it is even lesser known that James Avery voiced the character of ‘James Rhodes/War Machine’ in the 1994 first season of Iron Man, long before the greater popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe existed. Avery’s ‘War Machine’ provided a contrast to Tony Stark’s rashness and risk-taking dispositions, with a forceful sense of disagreement at times to tones of concern. My personal favourite for representations of the War Machine character would always go to Avery’s animated incarnation.

With these fond characters remembered, I say that James Avery will be missed; a character of many in my nerdy upbringing.

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