Iron Man may have launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the box office stratosphere, but it was arguably Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury who kept it all together from the very beginning and paved the way for Earth's mightiest to assemble in The Avengers - and beyond. Having played a role in seven Marvel films to-date, Jackson never received his own solo film, but he holds the record for most onscreen appearances out of all Marvel's stock actors - something egomaniac Tony Stark would certainly by jealous of.
That said, the actor's appearances noticeably diminished in Phase II of the MCU, leaving many to wonder when Nick Fury will stop appearing for good. With only two films left on Jackson's contract, is it possible Marvel no longer needs someone to glue its films - and heroes - together?
Hardly so, especially with
Avengers 2.5 Captain America: Civil War on the horizon. Which is why the following news comes as a particular shock. According to Jackson, who recently spoke to Collider about his latest film Big Game (as well as his time with Marvel), Nicky Fury will not appear in the opening act for Phase III. The actor shared the following:
It’s really great to be the connective tissue between so many different characters in so many different films, that brings those guys together. But I’m not in Captain America 3. I can’t figure that out, but I’m not. I guess I’m still out there, trying to figure out what happened to S.H.I.E.L.D. and who these other people are.
Jackson as Nick Fury also wasn't on the official Civil War cast list that Marvel Studios released when the film began production, but now we know for certain that wasn't just a bit of oversight. Just about everyone else featured in the MCU to date - including even longtime MIA player General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt) from The Incredible Hulk - will be back. With so much turmoil and chaos ensuing between the superheroes, it's hard to believe Nick Fury would sit idly by and watch all his hard work - uniting the Avengers and cementing them as heroes of humanity - fall apart.
However, those who've read the original Civil War comic book storyline will remember that Fury remained in hiding following the war's outbreak - and used old decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. safe-houses to house Captain America and his Secret Avengers. With that in mind, it is possible Civil War will allude to Fury and suggest he is in hiding, possibly helping Cap offscreen.
On the other hand, Fury could be - as Jackson posits - 'trying to figure out what happened to S.H.I.E.L.D.'; or instead, he could be off discovering new heroes. Characters like Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, and the Inhumans will need the guidance Fury once provided the original Avengers as they become more and more integral to the MCU's fabric - and as the said 'originals' become less and less integral - in Phase III and presumably Phase IV.
While veterans like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Robert Downey Jr. will have all completed three solo films and then some by the completion of Avengers: Infinity War, it is the very nature of Jackson's character - in which he can make less-exhausting or time-consuming appearances - that affords him the convenience and energy to make even more. In fact, the actor stressed his willingness and excitement to continue his involvement with Marvel during his interview with Collider.
Of course [I’m interested in returning]! I’m looking for a contract extension right now, yeah. I’m looking to re-up.
So if Marvel does indeed want Nick Fury to continue acting as the 'connective tissue' between its heroes, Jackson is game to continue playing the character - and wearing his signature eye patch - for as long as necessary. And at this point, it might even feel a bit natural for the actor to see out of only one eye.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is now in theaters, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.