Nick Fury is the director of SHIELD, the secretive intelligence agency responsible for bringing the Avengers together in the MCU. In the Marvel Studios films, Nick Fury is played by actor Samuel L. Jackson. The character has appeared in multiple Marvel films over the years, including “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, which introduced Sam Wilson as Falcon. Fury is set to be at the center of the upcoming series “Secret Invasion“.
Samuel L. Jackson has been a part of the MCU from the beginning, appearing in an “Iron Man” scene that foreshadowed the creation of the Avengers. Nick Fury has an iconic look, as he is rarely shown without his signature eye patch. Many fans have wondered over the years just what was under that eye patch, and why Fury needed an eye patch anyway. If you are curious about why Nick Fury needed an eye patch in the MCU, or how the comic book version of this character lost his eye, read on.
Nick Fury’s Eye Was Scratched by an Alien Cat During the Events of ‘Captain Marvel’
Nick Fury teams up with Captain Marvel to investigate a mysterious plane crash during the events of 2019’s “Captain Marvel”. While Captain Marvel and Nick Fury investigate the mysterious Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., the duo encounters what appears to be a cat. The cat has a collar around its neck with a nametag reading “Goose”. The creature is later revealed to be not a cat from Earth, but a Flerken from outer space. A Flerken is a type of alien that looks like a cat, but actually has sharp teeth and tentacles that can expand out of its mouth. The body of a Flerken contains “pocket dimensions with enough space to store entire universes”, according to Marvel.com.
Towards the end of “Captain Marvel”, Nick Fury is playing with Goose. Suddenly, Goose lashes out with his claws, scratching Fury across his left eye. This prompts Fury to exclaim “Mother Flerken”, an amusing nod to Jackson’s tendency to be cast in roles that require lots of profanity. As the film winds down, we see Fury’s eye slowly deteriorate, with Agent Coulson even bringing by a tray of glass replacement eyes for Fury to experiment with during the film’s final pre-credits scene. In that same scene, Fury refuses to either confirm or deny the rumor that the Kree burned out his eye when speaking with Coulson. This may explain the in-universe reason other characters might assume Fury’s eye is missing, as opposed to being intact but badly damaged.
Fury makes a comment remark in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” about how the last time he trusted someone, he lost an eye. This line is made retroactively comedic once the viewer has the knowledge of how that eye injury occurred. One fan theory, made popular on Reddit, offers a potential explanation for why Nick Fury kept his bad eye. Reddit user “collinaw97” posits that Fury “chose to keep his disfigured eye and cover it throughout his SHIELD career in order to protect himself and SHIELD if he was ever simmed.” In this context, “being simmed” refers to the way the alien Skrulls are able to simulate or “sim” a person’s appearance, a major plot point throughout “Captain Marvel”. By keeping the appearance of his eye hidden from everyone he worked with, Nick Fury made it difficult for a Skrull to sim Fury in his totality, because his eye was always hidden behind the patch.
Some Fans Thought the ‘Captain Marvel’ Origin for Fury’s Eyepatch Caused a ‘Plot Hole’ in the MCU
Nick Fury technically hasn’t lost his eye, it is just badly damaged. Fury’s damaged eye appears during the climactic sequence of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. Fury tells Alexander Pierce that “If you wanna stay ahead of me, Mr. Secretary, you need to keep both eyes open.” After making that declaration, Fury reveals his damaged eye to the computer interface, and scans his “bad eye” to remove the encryption safeguards that help the heroes win the day.
However, some fans felt that the details about Nick Fury’s vision loss that were teased in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” didn’t quite line up with how he actually lost the use of his eye in “Captain Marvel”. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was released in 2014, with “Captain Marvel” not hitting theatres until 2019, so fans had plenty of time between the two films to craft their own theories about how Nicky Fury came to wear his signature eye patch. To some viewers, there’s an apparent discord between the information presented in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, and how Fury’s on-screen eye attack played out in “Captain Marvel”. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” featured a scene with a photograph of Nick Fury, and that photo was notable because it showed Fury with both of his eyes intact. That photo can be seen in clip below, around the 25-second mark.
Viewers were told via dialogue in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” that the photo in question was taken five years after Nick Fury and Alexander Pierce first met. Given that the events of “Captain Marvel” are known to take place in 1995, based on dialogue in the film, many fans wondered how it could be possible for Nick Fury to have both eyes in the photo from “The Winter Soldier”, after having lost use of his eye in 1995 during the events of “Captain Marvel”. This series of events left fans wondering which came first: the swearing-in photo where Fury has both eyes, or the incident with the Flerken?
In a scene from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, Secretary Alexander Pierce shows Steve Rogers a photo, featuring Nick Fury with two eyes. While this is not explicitly stated in the dialogue, the position of Fury’s hand indicates the photo is from Fury’s “swearing-in ceremony” as Director of SHIELD. This is heavily implied by Pierce’s own dialogue. As Alexander Pierce explains in “The Winter Soldier”, the photograph was taken “five years after Nick and I met, when I was at State Department in Bogotá.” Pierce goes on to explain that Nick was Deputy Chief of the S.H.I.E.L.D. station in Bogotá. It was during this time in Bogotá that Fury impressed Pierce, ultimately leading to Fury being offered the role of director. The dialogue in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” does not explicitly state what year either the Bogotá incident, or Fury’s swearing in, took place.
“Captain Marvel” is set in 1995. About 43 minutes into the film, a glimpse at Nick Fury’s ID reveals he’s at a point in his career when he only has Level 3 security clearance, as opposed to the Level 10 clearance he is shown to have during the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” in his capacity as Director. Since Fury is clearly not the director of SHIELD during the events of “Captain Marvel”, but does close out the film wearing an eye patch, some fans felt like there was a plot hole or continuity error at play in the MCU.
Reddit user Ikeblueflames’s post contains a fan-created timeline that aims to tie the hints about Fury’s early days at SHIELD together. Redditor “Ikeblueflames” based their analysis on two photos seen in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. The first photo is the undated “swearing-in photo” discussed above, while another photo seen briefly in a different scene from the film is marked with a date in 1992. “Ikeblueflames” postulates:
“[The “swearing-in”] photo isn’t dated, but another picture that Fury has of Pierce is dated 9/18/92.
So, let’s say that Fury was given this photo of Pierce after he met him, and the date is the most recent dated picture of Pierce at the time.
Meaning the Bogota mission was in late ’92 and Fury was promoted to Director sometime in ’97.
This would mean that Fury jumped from a level 3 agent straight to Director within the span 2 years.
However, given Fury’s track record (Colonel in the Army and his espionage work in the CIA) and given that he was directly promoted by Pierce (who was impressed by Fury, and Fury saved his daughter), I don’t think this is unreasonable to believe.”
This timeline would still have Fury becoming director in 1997, two years after fans know he lost his eye during the events of “Captain Marvel”. One Men’s Health writer suggested that while in-universe explanations like glass eyes could explain Fury’s appearance in the “swearing-in” photograph, the real reason for the discrepancy is probably much more simple. “The other and more obvious answer is that Captain Marvel was filmed long after Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the publication noted. “The decision to explain how Nick lost his eye was a simple retcon. Retcons often open up plot holes that weren’t there to begin with.”
Which Side Does Nick Fury Wear His Eye Patch On?
Interestingly, Marvel hasn’t always been consistent about which of Fury’s eyes is the damaged one. Entertainment Weekly reported on one instance where Samuel L. Jackson himself took Marvel Studios to task for getting his character’s eye patch wrong on a movie poster. Jackson posted photos of two movie posters for “Spiderman: Far From Home” on his Instagram page, dropping some of his trademark profanity about the screw-up. One poster for the film “Spider-Man: Far From Home” featured Fury’s eye patch on his right eye, which is incorrect. For the record, the “correct” eye is Fury’s left one.
Fans of Marvel Comics know that the comics version of Nick Fury also wears an eye patch. However, the comics version of Nick Fury did not lose the use of his eye due to a random Flerken encounter. According to Nerdist, the original comic book incarnation of Fury lost his eye due to a battlefield encounter with a piece of grenade shrapnel.