Two characters we've sorely missed in the MCU are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). While they don't have any super powers or fancy armored suits, they're basically members of the Avengers, especially considering that they both had a hand in the formation of the team. Nevertheless, their last appearances were in Avengers: Age of Ultron back in 2015. We've had six more MCU movies since then, so where have they been hiding out for all this time, and when will they return to the shared comic book universe onscreen?
New photos released by JustJared.com may have just answered the second question, as they show Smulders and Jackson together again on the set of an "upcoming Marvel project," staring off into the distance, looking all concerned and dramatic (acting!). Most shocking of all is that the main picture shows a two-eyed Nick Fury without his trademark eyepatch, which, speculatively speaking, could mean these are set photos from Captain Marvel (set for March 8, 2019), a movie that will take place in the 1990s, long before the events of the first Iron Man and the beginning of the MCU.
It makes sense on several levels when you consider the following two points: Jackson is confirmed as part of the cast for the Brie Larson-starring Captain Marvel, and people on Twitter reportedly saw one of the movie's directors, Ryan Fleck, on the set where these photos were taken. Fleck will be co-directing with long time collaborator Anna Boden.
The following two tweets from twitterer @jorypa85, who was apparently "at the filming" in Atlanta, discuss the Fleck sightings:
Upon further inspection, however, other images do show Jackson wearing an eyepatch, which might be an indication that this was actually the set of the untitled Avengers 4, in which Larson's Carol Danvers will be featured. If true, the theory that the sequel to Infinity War will feature some sort of time travel is sounding less and and less far-fetched; these photos could be depicting both the past and present, the before and after of Fury's eye loss. Or, it could be true that he's been faking blindness in one eye this whole time, sacrificing full depth perception just so he could look cool. Or, maybe Jackson was just taking a break from filming when this pic was taken, and then he put the patch back on when the lights came up.
Since Danvers's solo feature comes two months before Avengers 4, you can bet Marvel Studios has already started production on it, even if these photos are not from Captain Marvel. Since Infinity War and Avengers 4 are being shot back-to-back, Fleck could have just been there to make sure the Captain Marvel scenes were in line with the continuity they're setting up with her origin story next year.
Right now, it's too early to tell, but it's good to know Hill and Fury will be back with us soon, don't you think?