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Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched in 2008 with Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury has been an integral player in the franchise, especially when he served as the main connective thread between the Phase One movies. However, following his appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the one-eyed spy hasn't been seen since. While it remains to be seen if Jackson will appear in Avengers: Infinity War and the fourth Avengers movie, it still begs the question about what Fury is up to right now during Phase Three. Well, Jackson may have accidentally revealed that information, and it has something to do with a certain HYDRA leader who last appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger.
You didn't see me in Civil War. You know, I'm still trying to figure out what, you know, the skull is doing...
Samuel L. Jackson was cut off before he could finish that train of thought, but the very fact that he said the word "skull" in a Marvel context is intriguing, to put it lightly. Is he implying that Nick Fury is tracking down The Red Skull, Captain America's arch-nemesis from World War II?
Near the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Red Skull grabbed the Tesseract in panic after Steve Rogers damaged the artifact's containment device. Touching the glowing cube with his own hands proved to be a mistake, as Johann Schmidt started to disintegrate and was then sucked through a portal. While his organization HYDRA lived on, Red Skull has been presumed dead this whole time. Still, this is a franchise based off a comic book world where death doesn't have quite as firm a grip on its heroes and villains. Since the Tesseract is the Space Stone, Red Skull could easily have been transported elsewhere in the universe, and through ways unknown, has somehow returned to Earth.
After leading the evacuation of Sokovia's citizens in Avengers: Age of Ultron using a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier while Earth's Mightiest Heroes battled Ultron and his army, Fury helped the Avengers set up their new base in New York, but we haven't heard a peep from him since then. Even though he's no longer involved with S.H.I.E.L.D., Fury is still a spy at heart, and tracking a terrorist as dangerous as the Red Skull would be a plausible excuse for why he wasn't involved in Captain America: Civil War. While the heroes were battling each other, he was trying to figure out what the Red Skull's dastardly plans, something he still hasn't accomplished.
Red Skull's return to the MCU is by no means guaranteed right now, but we'll be sure to let you know if we learn anything more concrete about it. For now, you can see Samuel L. Jackson in Kong: Skull Island, now playing in theaters