Marvel’s latest film, Captain Marvel, gives us a look into the past of Nick Fury, and changes some fundamental aspects of the character. It also gives us a look at why he’s waited so long before contacting her in Infinity War.
We’ve known for some time that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) would be part of Captain Marvel. With the film being set in 1995, many fans were interested in seeing how much of an origin story we’d receive for the character. The film does a good job of giving us a look at who Fury was when he was younger, and not yet the head of SHIELD. It also helps establish that there’s a lot more to Fury than we previously may have thought. Let’s dive in and be warned we are going to get into some SPOILERS.
Since his introduction in the end credits scene of 2008’s Iron Man, Nick Fury has been a mysterious super-spy who is tough as nails and never seems to reveal everything about himself. Captain Marvel brings us the character when he’s just a regular SHIELD agent, and in doing so it helps reveal the finer details to who Fury really is. A fundamental aspect of Fury is how well he plays things close to the vest, but here he needs be open to gain the trust of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), and in turn he forms a friendship with her that helps him be more open.
In terms of specific details about Fury we learn that he joined the military straight out of high school and then began working for the CIA in the 1970’s. After working missions in Belfast, Belgrade and Bucharest during the Cold War, Fury began working for SHIELD. It’s not exactly clear how long Fury has been with SHIELD when he meets Carol Danvers, but he has established himself enough to lead missions and train other agents like Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). We also see that Fury isn’t as cold as he tends to play off in later years. While some of that difference is likely due to his changes and experiences over time, the film does lead credence to the idea that Fury is still a much more optimistic and hopeful person than he seems.
There have been plenty of little clues to Fury being a more optimistic and loving character than we may expect but until now that idea hasn’t been clear because we’ve always seen him in difficult situations. Lines like, “Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on” from The Avengers, almost has a more optimistic look to it. Obviously there is optimism there, but it’s always felt like a commanding officer telling his subordinate to just do their job. Now, knowing the full depth of his character with Captain Marvel, it feels more like Fury has immense hope that the world won’t end, because he believes they can still save it.
This leads directly into the question of the pager at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Many people have criticized the fact that this is likely the first time he’s ever contacted Carol Danvers in over 20 years. Especially given the severity of the threats in the first two Avengers films. Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios pointed out in an interview with /Film that it may not be the first time, it’s just the first time we know of. But there is more to it than that. The biggest thing being that Fury has always believed that The Avengers could succeed.
The one single solitary through line for Fury has always been his faith in the Avengers and the Avengers Initiative, and it’s evident in almost every single film he’s in. In Iron Man 2, Fury gives Tony every single possible resource he can so that Tony can succeed and keep fighting. Not because he needs to, but because he believes in Tony Stark. In The Avengers he states that the World Security Council was not a fan of the Avengers Initative, but he believed they could succeed. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s revealed that Fury helped set up Hawkeye’s secret home so that he could continue to fight, and when Tony is lost again, he tries to help guide him and give him a pep talk. Tony Stark is the most confident person in the MCU. It’s one of his defining traits, and something that often gets him in trouble. But Fury has constantly been there to help him succeed when he begins to fail, because he believes in this idea more than anything.
Fury has constantly been The Avengers’ biggest fan and supporter. And it’s easy to believe that it’s because it’s his job on the line and the safety of the world at stake if he fails. But when you look at the deeper points, it’s clear that he as a person honestly believes in them. He believes that the Avengers will always be there to save the day, even when all of the odds are stacked against them. There may be times where he had his thumb hovering over the pager. I honestly think he’s always waited to see how they would overcome the odds and succeed. Because in the end that’s inherent in who they are.
The Avengers aren’t a team of perfect people. Every single one of them should have failed when they became who they were. Bruce Banner should have died when exposed to that much gamma radiation. Black Widow could have given into her darkness and been killed or been a force for evil. Tony Stark could have died in that cave. Captain America could have been dead when they pulled him out of the ice. Thor had all of his power taken away and still fought to save the Earth and stop Loki when he learned what it truly meant to be a hero. Hawkeye could have stepped away after being mind controlled by Loki. But they all kept going. They have all continued to fight and overcome the odds and won, even though they have no chance to. And because of that Fury knows he doesn’t need to contact Captain Marvel.
That being said, Fury doesn’t have the Avengers in Infinity War. Thor and Hulk are off the planet. Tony is off to space with Spider-Man. It’s not guaranteed that he knows where Cap, Black Widow, Bucky and Flacon are. So all he has really is Hawkeye, and maybe Ant-Man if he wants to recruit him. If people are turning to dust- it’s unlikely that Hawkeye and Ant-Man are going to help, and for all he knows they’ve turned to dust. You also have to remember that Fury doesn’t know everything about Thanos. He doesn’t know that this is happening to half of the entire Universe. He has no clue what’s going on. His best bet at this point is to hope that Carol Danvers can come in and help save the day. That she can stop this from happening.
As much as Captain Marvel helps set up the character of Carol Danvers, it really is a great look into Nick Fury, and everything that makes him who he is in the present day. It’s likely that there will be a sequel to Captain Marvel and when the time comes, maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see more of Fury and how he went from the lovable SHIELD agent in Captain Marvel to the colder, “my way or the highway,” Director of SHIELD. Until then we know he’ll at least show up in Spider-Man: Far From Home later this year, and likely will have a part in Avengers: Endgame, because, I mean… come on.
Captain Marvel is currently playing in theaters. Keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler for all of our coverage of the film, and check out our previous articles below.