Amidst all of the praise directed at Captain America: Civil War since its release, one of the biggest has been the film’s ability to successfully balance a boatload of Marvel characters within a single compelling narrative. Of course, not every notable MCU participant made an appearance in Civil War, with the three biggest exceptions being Thor, Hulk, and former S.H.I.E.L.D. boss Nick Fury. While Thor is presumably off handling Asgardian business in preparation for next year’s Thor: Ragnarok, and the Hulk is still likely in hiding after the events of Age of Ultron, Fury’s absence from the pivotal plot arc has led to questions about why he would just sit on the sidelines as the team he assembled fell apart.
As it turns out, there is actually a fairly logical explanation for Fury’s exclusion from Civil War, albeit one based more on what was best for the script than what would necessarily make the most narrative sense. Recently, Civil War writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely laid out their reasoning for not including Fury, which hinges on avoiding the dozens of plot complications created by having the Avengers’ spiritual father choose between Team Cap and Team Iron Man.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Markus had this to say:
“Primarily it felt like one too many possible opinions. We didn’t want him to take one side or the other, because that’s not his place in the universe. And then we didn’t want another, ‘Is he still with the government? Is he opposed to the government but supporting the government?’ It got to be the potential for a lot more polemic discussion that the movie did not have room for.”
While not wanting to open up such a big can of hypothetical worms in the middle of an already crowded film like Civil War makes sense, that may only be part of the story behind Fury’s absence. Actor Samuel L. Jackson’s current contract with Marvel only includes two more film appearances, and one assumes that Marvel would want to save those for the epic Avengers: Infinity War two-parter coming in 2018 and 2019. Fury had previously been reported as taking part in Thor: Ragnarok as well, but that was later contradicted by Jackson himself.
Assuming the 67-year-old Jackson doesn’t end-up signing a new deal with Marvel — which certainly could happen if the money is right — Infinity War may be the last time fans see Nick Fury in an MCU film, at least in his current incarnation. If that’s the case, losing him would be a shame, but he’ll always have The Avengers saving the world under his leadership to be proud of.
Captain America: Civil War is in theaters now. Doctor Strange opens November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on July 12, 2019, and on May 1, July 10, and November 6 in 2020.