Going into Avengers: Infinity War, there was no indication that ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury or his second-in-command, Maria Hill, would appear, but in the movie's post-credits scene, they finally returned, only for both to be turned to dust by Thanos' genocidal snap. This marked both characters' first onscreen appearances since Avengers: Age of Ultron, but don't think that they were just sitting around and twiddling their thumbs in the last couple years. Thanks to a new comic adventure, we finally know what these two were up to in the period between Ultron's defeat and Thanos' victory.
Most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe installments have received their own tie-in prelude comic books, provided for the fans who want a little extra background before going into these respective movies. With Captain Marvel arriving in four months, today Marvel Comics released Marvel's Captain Marvel Prelude #1, and since Avengers: Infinity War revealed that Nick Fury has ties with Carol Danvers, this is just the incentive to peek in on his actives post-Avengers: Age of Ultron and learn more about that pager he was carrying around that displayed the Captain Marvel insignia.
When we last left off with Nick Fury and Maria Hill at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, they were helping Earth's Mightiest Heroes set up their new facility in upstate New York (which, as revealed in Ant-Man, was originally a Stark Industries warehouse). Alas, this new version of the Avengers didn't last long, as Captain America: Civil War saw the old and new guards, as well as outside players like Black Panther and Spider-Man, clash over the Sokovia Accords. While Nick and Maria didn't participate in this conflict, Marvel's Captain Marvel Prelude #1 (via ComicBookMovie) reveals that they were watching from afar, and although neither were a fan of this new legislation, they were worried that this divide between the heroes would have even bigger ramifications in the future.
Subsequently, the two spies decide to go underground and dedicate their time between taking down threats (standard business) and working to bring the Avengers back together, which explains why we didn't see them for the first half of Phase 3. Nick Fury also tells Maria Hill that while he still admires the Avengers, he still needs them to be something "more." Maria then asks if Fury has a reliable backup plan in case things don't work out, to which he responds, "Nah, if we do our job right, we'll never be in a position of having to call her."
Obviously Nick Fury is referring Captain Marvel, who, as we'll see in Carol Danvers' upcoming movie, was the first superhero he met. Speaking of Carol, some of you have probably been wondering why Fury never activated his spruced-up pager before Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige previously said that it was because Carol is "more powerful" than any character that's been introduced to the MCU thus far. So while it would have been great to have Carol around when the Chitauri invaded New York or when Ultron attacked Sokovia, it sounds like Nick was holding back on contacting her until there was no other option.
Moving on, you'll remember that at the end of Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers, having ditched his classic costume and the vibranium shield, broke into The Raft and freed Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Ant-Man. Marvel's Captain Marvel Prelude #1 alludes that Nick Fury and Maria Hill had a hand in getting Steve Rogers into the prison, though it isn't revealed specifically how they helped.
Sometime after Captain America: Civil War, Nick Fury tracked down the Secret Avengers, i.e. the anti-Sokovia Accords heroes still active in the field (and are dealing with terrorists armed with Chitauri tech and an Ultron drone), to try to get them to patch things up with the other Avengers faction, while Maria Hill tries to do the same with Tony Stark. Neither side is willing to bury the hatchet yet, hence why Tony was hesitant to call Steve up when Bruce Banner told him Thanos was coming at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War.
Which brings us to Marvel's Captain Marvel Prelude #1's ending, which mirrors the final minute of Avengers: Infinity War, with one exception: this time, Nick Fury says "It's time" before activating the pager and turning to dust. Half of all life in the universe is gone now, and while Avengers 4 is expected to bring back most, if not all, of the disappeared protagonists, how that will be accomplished is (understandably) still being kept secret, although many fans are speculating that time travel via the Quantum Realm will play a role.
Thanks to Nick Fury, though, Brie Larson's Carol Danvers will be drawn into the coming fight alongside the other heroes who survived Avengers: Infinity War. With the power to move planets, she'll be an excellent ally to have around, especially if another fight with Thanos unfolds. Before that happens, though, Captain Marvel will wind the clock back to the mid-1990s and show how Carol obtained her amazing abilities, how she became an operative for the Kree empire and how she met Nick Fury, who at this stage of his life felt that the best years were behind him due to the Cold War wrapping up.
Little does the younger Nick Fury know that his interactions with Carol, the Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls will be his first step onto a new path, one which will eventually lead to him forming the Avengers. Oh, and that transition will also be marked by him losing his eye. Captain Marvel will also feature younger versions of Phil Coulson, Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer, as well as introduce folks like Talos, Maria Rambeau, Minn-Erva and Mar-Vell.
Captain Marvel will be released in theaters on March 8, 2019, and Avengers 4 will wrap up Phase 3 on May 3, 2019. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage on both movies, and be sure to look through our Marvel movies guide to learn what else the MCU has coming down the pipeline.