It's been widely assumed, up to this point, that Samuel L. Jackson would reprise his role as Nick Fury in Avengers: Infinity War, filming now in Atlanta. So much so, in fact, that when Jackson was being interviewed by quantum physics themed pop culture website Collider, Fury had to correct the reporter when asked about his appearance, saying, "You know that?! How do you know that, and I don't know that?! You know that, for real?!" Jackson went on to deny that he has been given a date to appear for filming, and insists that he has not gotten an answer from Marvel when asking if he'll be in the movie. So how did the rumor that Jackson would appear in Avengers: Infinity War become so widespread?
Wikipedia's Sam Jackson filmography lists both Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel as movies Jackson will appear in, but tracing that back through its source leads right back, interestingly enough, to a 2016 interview, again on Collider, where Jackson says, "I hear I'm around in [Avengers] 3 or 4." So in this beautiful example of the life cycle of a Hollywood rumor, Jackson returned, six months later, to the scene of the interview where he himself started the rumor that he would appear in Avengers: Infinity War, in order to deny that he would appear in Avengers: Infinity War, wondering how a rumor like that got started. That's why you gotta love this business.
Based on Jackson's latest comments, it looks like, whatever they were originally, plans have changed, and Jackson won't be in Avengers: Infinity War. Since Avengers: Infinity War is filming back-to-back with its sequel, it's a safe assumption to say that, if Jackson isn't expected in Atlanta to film, he won't be appearing in either movie. Additionally, Jackson recently confirmed that he would not appear in Black Panther, though he optimistically suggested that he could potentially appear in Captain Marvel, if Marvel were interested. So if Fury isn't set to appear in any of these movies, when will we see him again?
The most important clue to this mystery may have come from an interview on NY radio station Hot 97, picked up on by Cosmic Book News, where Jackson is asked around the 34:30 mark if he's in Black Panther:
As previously, Jackson replied that he won't be in the film. However, when asked if Marvel is trying to cut him out of the MCU, Jackson said that he has a nine picture deal with two pictures left. But here's the really interesting part. Describing what Nick Fury is up to in the Marvel universe, Jackson said, "You didn't see me in [Captain America:] Civil War. I'm still out there trying to figure out what The Skull is [doing?]…" Perhaps realizing that he had slipped and revealed a key plot point about the future of the MCU, Jackson cut himself off, but it was too late.
We now know that Nick Fury is currently investigating the movements of the Red Skull, who was thought dead at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger. Hugo Weaving, who portrayed the Skull in that film, is also not scheduled for Avengers: Infinity War, but he's never ruled out a return to the MCU, and since we've never "seen a body," his character could very well still be out there somewhere.
Nick Fury vs The Red Skull sounds like it could sustain its own Marvel movie, and with rumors that Marvel could replace its top level heroes — Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor — and with two pictures left on Jackson's deal, Nick Fury could be the perfect character to spearhead Marvel Studios Phase Four and launch a brand new team of Avengers. And so, if you think about it, Samuel L. Jackson has basically confirmed that we're getting a Nick Fury solo film with the Red Skull as the bad guy, probably sometime in 2020.
Does this seem a bit far-fetched? Based purely on speculation and hastily constructed conspiracy theories? Perhaps. But no one will remember that if we turn out to be right. And if we turn out to be wrong, well… we look forward to having this rumor dispelled personally by Samuel L. Jackson himself in a Bleeding Cool interview later this year.
And that's how you entertainment journalism.