Why Didn't Captain Marvel Turn Up Before In The MCU?
As Kevin Feige has rightly noted, just because viewers never saw Fury use the pager before now, it doesn't mean he never did. It's possible that, on some of these occasions, Fury underestimated the scale of the threat; matters may have escalated in Avengers: Age of Ultron more quickly than he expected, even if he did manage to pull a spare Helicarrier out of mothballs at speed. But he must have called in Captain Marvel for some of these situations. So that raises the difficult question of why Carol Danvers never showed up.
There are really two major possibilities. The first is that Carol could have simply been too far away. It takes time to travel across the universe; the Kree needed 22 hours to get from Hala to Earth. When Carol Danvers was last seen, she was trying to lead the Skrull refugees to somewhere so far away the Kree could never reach them. That means she could have gone to the very farthest corners of the galaxy, and it would probably take her quite a while to get back. In contrast, the situations Nick Fury was dealing with came to a head at speed. The most any of them took was probably less than a week.
The second possibility, though, is that Carol Danvers was simply busy. When Captain Marvel sent Yon-Rogg back to Hala, it was with a warning that she was determined to end their wars. The first step in doing this was getting the Skrulls to safety; the second was returning to force the Kree to sue for peace. There's some evidence that she was successful, as the Kree had finally forged a treaty with the Xandarians by 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy.
All this probably means that Captain Marvel was serving on the front lines of a galactic war, and then working on a peace treaty that would potentially save untold billions of lives. It may not have been easy for her to get away. That's particularly the case for the Hydra uprising, which could well have been happening at the very same time the Kree and the Xandarians were ending their millennia-long war. Given these two factors, it's perhaps not surprising Captain Marvel didn't manage to turn up for this handful of occasions.
Why Didn't Nick Fury Tell Anyone About Captain Marvel?
But this does leave one last difficult question: Why didn't Nick Fury tell anyone about Captain Marvel? In fact, the Captain Marvel Prelude comic even revealed that he didn't tell Maria Hill about Carol, which is pretty remarkable given how closely the two worked together. Disappointed with the Avengers after they fell apart during Captain America: Civil War, a frustrated Hill was complaining about superheroes, doubting the wisdom of the entire Avengers Initiative. "I've heard something else said about heroes," she observed caustically. "Never to meet them. They'll only ever let you down." Fury objected that isn't always true, clearly thinking of Carol when he replied, "Not all of them." Hill immediately realized the truth; "You got one we haven't called yet," she asked, clearly curious. "Might be helpful to have a backup plan in case the worst should ever come." In case readers were doubting this conversation was about Captain Marvel, Fury ended it all with a simple response; "Nah. If we do our job right, we'll never be in a position of having to call her."
It all seems to suggest that Fury considered the pager to be a tool of last resort, something to do when everything else had failed. He appears to have had a remarkable amount of faith in the mismatched team he'd put together, and that in itself suggests he may not have used the pager in The Avengers or Avengers: Age of Ultron at all. He really did expect the Avengers to shut the wormhole in New York, or to defeat Ultron in Sokovia; he didn't believe Carol Danvers was needed. And that explains why the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War was different; because the Avengers had fragmented, Tony Stark was missing after an alien attack, and Fury himself was beginning to fade away. This time around, Fury considered the Earth defenseless, and as he watched everyone around him crumble to dust he knew he had no choice but to call in the cavalry.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019