The last time we saw Nick Fury he was paging Captain Marvel for help before turning to dust in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War. While it’s unclear whether he’ll show up in Avengers: Endgame, a bold new theory suggests he’s already time traveled at least once when a future version of the S.H.I.E.L.D. director went back in time to help out the Avengers in Age of Ultron.
The scene in question appears midway through the movie, when the Avengers retreat to Hawkeye’s farm and Nick Fury is there waiting for them. Redditor u/KevinAnniPada (via u/splingles) theorizes that Fury’s appearance in Age of Ultron wasn’t actually present-day Fury, but a future version of the character. In the film, Fury drops in on the Avengers after they go off-grid at Clint Barton’s family farm. His presence is simultaneously unexpected and welcome. While there, Fury shares a couple of scenes with the team and a one-on-one chat with Tony Stark before heading out.
There are two key components to the theory. The first involves the conversation regarding Tony’s vision at the beginning of Age of Ultron. Tony envisioned a burning world and the deaths of his friends. It’s meant to foreshadow Tony’s actions in Age of Ultron, but another theory suggests it may have been foreshadowing the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. When Tony and Fury reference the vision, “they’re speaking in past tense,” writes u/KevinAnniPada. “This seems like it’s because they are referring back to Tony’s vision. But it seems like they should be speaking in future tense while referring to the events.”
It should be noted that Tony isn’t at all surprised by Fury’s presence, nor does he question how he knows Tony doesn’t die in the vision. Sure, it could be that Fury deduced that Tony’s vision didn’t include his death, but even though the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. knows a lot of things ahead of time, his appearance is confusing. If you watch the scene below, Fury never answers Tony’s question about how he found them and how long Maria Hill’s been working for him. Fury goes straight to discussing “artificial intelligence,” avoiding the topic all together. In fact, the scene comes off as though Fury came all the way to the farm to check in on Tony, which is unusual given the way Fury usually operates.
The second key component of the theory is the scene Fury shares with all of the Avengers in Age of Ultron. He says a few choice words that, given the context of the situation, make no sense. “Here we all are, back on Earth, with nothing but our wit and our will to save the world,” Fury says. But isn’t that where they’ve all been this whole time?
Aside from Thor, none of the Avengers had ever been to space before Infinity War (Iron Man) and Endgame (everyone else), while Fury had ventured into Earth’s orbit in Captain Marvel. But this scene suggests that he and the Avengers had all been off-world.
With time travel’s involvement all but confirmed, this theory is extremely plausible and could come to fruition in Endgame. It could also turn out that Marvel just wanted Fury to appear in Age of Ultron. However, if it turns out to be true, the movie would have to explain when Fury came back to life in order to time travel. With three hours to tell the story, though, there’s plenty of time for Fury to make a grand comeback.
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26, 2019.