It's been nearly four months since Avengers: Infinity War hit theaters and blew all of our minds, and we still know next to nothing official about its upcoming sequel, which will hit theaters next spring. That means, particularly as Infinity War arrives on home video, that we're left with nothing but to ponder the clues already left for us, and that means fan theories are bound to emerge.
Not all fan theories are created equal, of course. They range from the plausible to the downright absurd, but in the absence of tangible plot direction from the storytellers themselves, it can be hard to not get swept up in them, particularly when they actually have some good points to make. That's why this theory, from Reddit user sjvkrgr1, is making the rounds quite a bit this week.
The theory attempts to address Infinity War's post-credits scene, which features Nick Fury reaching for and activating a modified pager just moments before he begins to fade into nothingness after Thanos' snap. The pager falls to the ground, and a familiar red, blue, and gold logo appears on it, indicating that Fury has sent a message to Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.
Now, we know that Fury will be making an appearance in next year's Captain Marvel, which will be set in the 1990s and introduce Carol Danvers to the MCU prior to the events of all of the Avengers films so far. That means Fury and Carol met in the '90s, she went off into space somewhere, and he was left with this means to contact her should the need arise. That's left a lot of fans scratching their heads, because if Fury had this pager that would allow him to summon an immensely powerful superhero all this time, why didn't he use it when the Chitauri invaded New York, or when Ultron tried to wipe humanity off the planet? Well, according to this theory, that's the wrong question. The real question is why did Fury choose that exact moment to summon Carol, while leaving her alone during other crises (if indeed he did; there's always the possibility that he called and she was busy, and we just don't know about it).
First, here's the groundwork for the theory, the evidence based on moments in previous MCU films:
1. When Maria Hill disintegrates, Fury looks, almost confident. Like he knows whats going on. I wouldn't be surprised if somehow he did. He even has this beat that seems to say "here we go".
2. He IMMEDIATELY goes for the pager. Again, he seems to be prepared for just such an event.
3. In rewatching Age of Ultron, when he speaks with Tony in Hawkeyes shed, Fury says "I'm not the director of anybody. Just an old man who cares very much about you." I find this to be really odd. Why does he care so much for Tony? Why would he care so much for his safety or his sanity? Fury isn't one for deep meaningful connections. Even if he were, Stark would be the last person with whom he'd share one.
4. Later in that same conversation, Tony tells Fury of the vision Scarlet Witch gave him where he "kills the Avengers...the whole world too". Fury looks curious. Intrigued at the idea that Tony could have seen such a thing. He tries to comfort Tony by saying it was a trick, but Tony insists he was SHOWN it.
5. Stark says "watching my friends die...you'd think that'd be as bad as it gets... Nope. Wasn't the worst part." Fury interrupts, "worst part is that you didn't".
So, what does that all add up to? According to this theory, it means that in Captain Marvel, we will learn "that Fury has either a) seen/heard of/been told the future where a man named Iron Man will save the universe, or b) has seen a Snappening before to some degree." Our theorist posits that this would explain a number of things, including the enormous amount of attention Fury seems to pay to Stark relative to the other Avengers (Captain America perhaps excluded, but hey, they used to work in the same building), why Fury seems to understand Stark's vision of doom, and why he immediately went to Stark's house to try to recruit him when Stark outed himself as Iron Man.
The idea here is that Fury has, for whatever reason, been playing the long game to end all long games, and that he was somehow aware that there would be a specific moment when he needed to call Carol, and this was it. Indeed, he does look very deliberate rather than desperate when he reaches for that pager, as if he'd been warned at some point that an event like this might occur. We have no idea what role Fury plays in Captain Marvel yet, but the idea that he somehow glimpsed the future, or even encountered a younger Thanos just beginning his quest, is not a hard one to grasp at this point in the MCU.
Of course, that doesn't explain why Fury never told anyone about this (that we know of), why he didn't dig deeper into his relationship with Stark (that we know of), and why he didn't take more immediate action when a spaceship came down to New York and took Tony away (again, that we know of). These are either pieces of the story that simply haven't been addressed yet, or they were left out because there's a different story at work than what this theory suggests. It's also always important to note that characters acting irrationally don't count as plot holes, so perhaps Fury was keeping this secret because he was afraid of it, or because he didn't really believe it would happen until he saw it with his own eyes. Again, we just don't know.
All those caveats aside, this is an extremely intriguing theory that paints a more detailed picture of the life of Nick Fury than anything we've seen him do onscreen so far. Even if Captain Marvel doesn't bear this out, it speaks to the quality of these movies that small interactions between characters can suggest to fans an entirely separate story underlining everything that might just have cosmic importance.
Captain Marvel arrives in theaters March 8, 2019.