, he told him that he had “just become part of a bigger universe – you just don’t know it yet.” This statement sounds cool but doesn’t hold up to scrutiny; while Fury knew of other superhumans, such as Ant-Man or Ghost, he doesn’t seem to have considered any of them for membership of the Avengers Initiative. The “bigger universe” he intended Tony Stark to operate in was really one featuring other characters who Fury had yet to meet.
Over the next few years, the pieces of Fury’s Avengers Initiative began to fall into place in very curious ways. Fury insisted on tracking down Captain America’s body, for example; the official tie-in comic Fury’s Big Week, it’s implied Fury believed Steve Rogers was still alive, fighting to recover the body long before it’s found. Then, in The Avengers, Fury seemed absolutely, unshakably convinced that the Avengers Initiative was the one approach that could save the world. In the end scenes, when confronted by the World Council about what he had just started by letting the Avengers loose, Fury seemed strangely relaxed, then when questioned by Maria Hill whether the Avengers could ever reassemble, he gave a confident response: “They’ll come back. Because we’ll need them to.“
All this fits with the idea of Fury experiencing a vision of the future: he knew that Tony Stark was destined to be part of “a bigger universe“; he knew that Steve Rogers was alive; and he knew that the Avengers would indeed return. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s Fury who turns up to motivate the team on the course that will lead to the creation of Vision.
Of course, Fury’s knowledge couldn’t be perfect – he wasn’t aware of Hydra’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D., after all – but that makes sense; if he experienced just a brief vision of the future, it would involve select moments. The question of this theory, though, looks to the future: how does this impact Thanos & Avengers 4?
Page 2 of 2: Would a Time Travel Fury Work in Avengers 4?
How A Time Travel Nick Fury Would Affect Avengers 4
But how would Nick Fury’s foreknowledge affect the plot of Avengers 4? The most important clue may lie in the fact that all the original Avengers, the heroes hand-picked by Nick Fury, survived the snap. Ant-Man & the Wasp raised curious questions about Fury’s decision-making process back when he formed the Avengers; why didn’t he recruit Ghost, a super-powered asset who was even working for S.H.I.E.L.D. at the time? In light of him seeing the future, it’s possible Fury chose his team simply because he knew these were the people who would survive Thanos’s wrath, and who would need to work together to put the world to rights.
No doubt some twists in the tale took him by surprise – the bitter acrimony between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark would have troubled him – but he’d have been confident both would put their divisions behind them in order to avert or undo the snap. Further, as mentioned, this explained why Fury never called in Captain Marvel before; if he knew Thanos was the ultimate threat, he would wait for that.
If this theory is correct, then everything that happens in Avengers 4 – and, indeed, the MCU so far – has effectively been orchestrated by Nick Fury. He’s ensured the Avengers know one another, and are used to working as a team, then called in Captain Marvel at the moment she’s most needed. The one thing he presumably didn’t foresee was his own death as part of the snap – hence his emotive and surprised reaction when he dissolved in Avengers: Infinity War‘s post-credits scene.
Would A Time Travel Nick Fury Be A Step Too Far?
The fundamental question, then, is simply: will Marvel do this? It’s important to note that this theory only works if some kind of time travel technology – most likely exposure to the Quantum Realm – is part of the plot in Captain Marvel. But that, combined with potentially catching a glimpse of Nick Fury’s vision of the future, may give away a little bit too much of the plot of Avengers 4, and otherwise deflate the defeat felt at the end of Avengers: Infinity War.
At the same time, though, this would be an effective explanation for what otherwise seems nothing more than the happy coincidence that all of the original Avengers survived the snap. From an out-of-universe perspective, this allows Marvel Studios to bring their story full circle; it’s a smart strategic play that ensures Avengers 4 is a satisfying conclusion to the MCU’s first three phases. But the idea that Nick Fury saw the future, and carefully chose the original Avengers because he knew they would be the ones to save the universe from Thanos, provides an in-universe justification for this.
Ultimately, though, as tight as this Avengers 4 theory is – both thematically and in terms of the MCU’s sprawling narrative – it may just be a step too far for a movie involving a mammoth cast, time travel and who knows what else.