"Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe; you just don't know it yet."
With those words, #SamuelLJackson's Nick Fury effectively launching the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now, there are rumors that he's about to return for 2018's Avengers: Infinity War - and it would only be fitting for him to do so. After all, Infinity War will be the climax of Phases 1-3, releasing ten years after the MCU kicked off in Iron Man. And where would the Avengers be without Nick Fury?
But here's the thing; we haven't seen Nick Fury since 2015. What's the master-spy been up to these last few years? And what role could he play in the film?
What Has Nick Fury Been Doing Since Captain America: Civil War?
Fans have long believed that Nick Fury needed to make an appearance in Infinity War. The character was crucial to Phase 1, and both Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled #Avengers4 are supposed to be a celebration of everything we've seen in the last decade. In Captain America: Civil War, #NickFury went off the grid; sure, he popped up briefly in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but what's he been doing since then?
The answer may well lie in the comics. Back in 2004, Marvel launched a miniseries called Secret War that forced the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to abandon his post and go off the grid. He remained unseen until 2008's Secret Invasion event, where he revealed he'd learned of an impending alien invasion. He'd spent the last few years preparing a defense against the Skrulls, and he played a major role in their ultimate defeat.
In the #MCU, the Chitauri invasion of New York has left the world horrified at the prospect of further alien invasions (we've seen hints of the mass hysteria that's going round in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Unfortunately, far from preparing a defense, S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to have been focused on fighting against Hydra; meanwhile, the Avengers have wound up divided by the Sokovia Accords. I can't see Nick Fury just standing by and watching while the entire planet goes undefended; has he been spending the years since Captain America: Civil War preparing for the Chitauri's return?
If so, this may well explain a cryptic comment from Dave Bautista, who revealed that Marvel's planning to introduce new heroes in Infinity War, just as they introduced Spider-Man and Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. In the comics, Fury assembled a group known as the Secret Warriors to act as his agents and protect the world against the Skrull; could he have done something similar in the MCU?
It's worth noting that the Chitauri, Thanos's alien army, are lifted from the Ultimate comics - and are the Ultimate equivalent of the Skrulls. So this theory may not be as outlandish as it seems...
Can Nick Fury Unite The Avengers?
Whether Nick Fury's been preparing for the invasion or not, the reality is that he's typically been the man to unify the Avengers against the threats that face them. Now, at the time of Earth's greatest need, the world's mightiest heroes are divided. It's highly likely that Fury will play a major role in reconciling Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.
After all, the previous films have established a strong relationship between Fury and both men. He may be a tough, manipulative warrior, but he clearly cares for Stark and Rogers. He's proved able to talk Tony Stark down before, and we saw the uneasy friendship between Fury and Captain America in The Winter Soldier. In truth, Nick Fury may be the only man who can get Iron Man and Captain America to sort things out.
#Marvel fans, rejoice! If this rumor is true, Nick Fury himself is about to enter a wider universe - one where he walks with gods and aliens, allying with walking trees and talking raccoons. He's the man who united the Avengers; can he get the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy to work together?
Do you want Nick Fury to appear in 'Avengers: Infinity War'?
(Source: Durham Chronicle; Poll Image Credit: Marvel Studios)