The following contains spoilers for Captain Marvel.
Nick Fury, as played by Samuel L. Jackson, has been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the end credits tag of Iron Man in 2008. And he’s arguably the most famous character in pop culture that wears an eye patch who isn’t a pirate. But although we now know just how Fury got the patch in the MCU thanks to Captain Marvel, how does this detail line up with the comics lore?
Basically, it doesn’t. The movies went their own route for the backstory of Fury’s missing eye. And it differs from not one, but all the three distinct versions of Fury in the pages of Marvel Comics.
The original Nick Fury first appeared in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 in May of 1963. This series featured the World War II era adventures of Colonel Nicholas J. Fury, a tough as nails soldier who punched Nazis and smoked a whole lot of cigars. The series, an old school style comic in an era of modern superheroes, was successful.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby then decided to show Fury in the modern day—1965, at that time. He made his first post-WWII appearance in Fantastic Four as a CIA agent. He had gray hair at the temples to demonstrate aging, and he sported an eye patch, suggesting he’d been through some serious stuff since the war. With James Bond mania in the ’60s, Nick Fury got another series, this time as a super spy and agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., again with his signature eye patch.
Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #27, published in 1966, finally told the story of how Nick lost the eye. It was what one would expect: Fury caught a Nazi grenade and saved his men by tossing it before the explosive could kill them. However, he didn’t throw it fast enough to completely avoid the blast; a piece of shrapnel took out his eye. This event must have occurred towards the end of WWII, because the rest of the Sgt. Fury series still portrayed Fury as having both eyes throughout the course of the war.
This brings us to the second Nick Fury. Marvel created Fury 2.0 for the alternate universe they called the “Ultimate Universe,” modern retellings and updates to their classic heroes. Still the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this universe, this Fury was an African-American man, who specifically resembled Samuel L. Jackson. Just as the regular Marvel Universe’s Fury had an eye patch, so did Nick 2.0.
This version of Fury obviously didn’t date back to WWII; instead, he served in Kuwait during the Gulf War. In this universe, Fury lost his eye in an explosion when his convoy came under attack in the desert. Fury’s convoy was transporting the military’s secret weapon Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine. Wolverine saved Nick during this ambush by carrying him to safety, but Fury still lost his eye.
The Ultimate universe served its purpose and eventually folded, its only surviving character being the Miles Morales’ Spider-Man. But for folks who read those comics and knew Sam Jackson’s Fury, the Ultimate universe version is what Fury looked like. So how to reconcile the history of the WWII, cigar-chompin’ white dude named Nick Fury in the regular Marvel universe? Say hello to Nick Fury Jr.
Marvel’s Battle Scars miniseries in 2011 introduced Marcus Johnson, a soldier who bears a striking resemblance to the Nick Fury of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. That’s for a reason. Marcus was the secret son of the WWII era Nick Fury, born as Nick Fury Jr. Some of Fury’s old enemies capture Marcus as a way to exact vengeance upon the spy, and they cut out Marcus’ eye so he’d match dear old dad. He escapes the villains and accepts a post as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. And just like his pops, Fury Jr. wears a sexy eye patch.
But despite all these different Furies and their histories, our money is on the MCU version being the best “how did Fury lose an eye” story. It involves an alien cat taking a swipe at him! As Stan Lee would say, “Nuff said.”
Images: Marvel Comics / Marvel Studios