Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury already has some possible replacements for when he leaves the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fury debuted in the MCU back in the universe’s first entry, 2008’s Iron Man, through a post-credits scene to recruit Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark for the Avengers Initiative. Since then, Fury has appeared across a wide array of projects, with the character finally getting his chance to lead an MCU entry through the espionage thriller that is the upcoming Disney+ Secret Invasion show. Fury’s immediate fate beyond the series is known, as the character is featured in The Marvels‘ trailer; however, that does not mean that Fury will stay for long.
With the end of the MCU’s first chapter, the Infinity Saga, many important characters have been departing the universe one way or another. While Fury still remains in the MCU, it is possible that the character will join other early heroes of the universe in departing the franchise and seeing another character rise to be the former SHIELD Director’s successor. At 74, Jackson is not getting any younger, and many Phase 1 MCU actors have recently sought to continue their careers elsewhere. With the MCU soon introducing characters like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, it seems likely that a new mysterious figure to unite all the heroes will emerge to operate for at least the next decade, and some options are already known.
7 James Rhodes
James Rhodes will be back in the MCU soon, but he will not be appearing as War Machine, rather serving as the President of the United States right-hand man in Secret Invasion. This new side of Rhodey could lead to him being Fury’s successor. As such a prominent political figure, Rhodey would be able to assemble the new Avengers team and assist the heroes through a wide array of resources, including equipment, vehicles, and more. Rhodey’s low placement is due to the character being way less of a shadowy figure than Fury is known to be, which makes him succeeding the former SHIELD Director a major change.
6 Sharon Carter, AKA The Power Broker
Another possible successor for Fury is Sharon Carter, who would be a more morally questionable choice — in line with Fury — than Rhodey. What works against Sharon is that the character was positioned to be an antagonist at the end of Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. If the character has become a villain, there is no way she will succeed Fury. However, Sharon’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Power Broker twist could lead to her ultimately using her newfound position and connections for good, operating through the same back channels that Fury would, as he had some questionable dealings just like Sharon.
5 Thunderbolt Ross
Harrison Ford takes over the role of Thunderbolt Ross in the MCU from the late William Hurt, starting with next year’s Captain America: New World Order. In the movie, Ross will be the new President of the United States. Thanks to his new position, the character’s past dealings with MCU heroes, and the addition of a powerhouse actor in Ford, it seems like Thunderbolt Ross will be set up to play a major role going forward. Based on that, the character might be in line to succeed Fury as the new shadowy figure bringing heroes together in the MCU.
Ross is rumored to become the Red Hulk in the MCU, likely having a connection to the covert team from Thunderbolts, which shares his name, making him a good candidate for Fury’s shadowy role. What plays against him is Ford’s age, 80, making him even older than Jackson. Ford could be in line to serve more as Red Hulk than Ross, which would let him do more voice work for the next years – though if he remains as Red Hulk, he’s unlikely to take Fury’s place.
4 Maria Hill
Next on the list is who Fury would most likely want to succeed him in the MCU should he die is Maria Hill. Cobie Smulders has played Fury’s right-hand woman since 2012’s The Avengers, with the character soon returning to help Fury sort out the Skrull conspiracy in Disney+’s Secret Invasion. Hill has succeeded Fury as Director of SHIELD in the comics, and the character could serve a similar role in the MCU whenever Jackson decides to bow out. Maria Hill is a long-standing MCU character, and while she has not had the spotlight on her throughout her MCU journey, she could tie together the Infinity and Multiverse Sagas nicely.
3 Abigail Brand
Abigail Brand has still to debut in the MCU. At one time, it seemed like Emilia Clarke might be playing Brand in Secret Invasion, with that rumor having since been debunked. Still, given how much SWORD is being set up as the new secret organization of the MCU after SHIELD’s downfall, its most famous leader will soon have to arrive. Brand as Director of SWORD would perfectly mirror Fury’s role as Director of SHIELD, with the comic book character also dealing in the shadows like Nick Fury. Brand is also part-mutant, and with the X-Men arriving in the future, she is a fantastic new version of Fury for the MCU.
2 Sam Wilson
While Sam Wilson might fall into the same category as Rhodey of being a full-on hero – which differs from Fury’s murky decisions – the character has something that makes him a great replacement for the former Director of SHIELD. As the new Captain America, Sam could take what Fury did and occupy his role, only bringing it from the shadows into the light. Captain America is a big enough figure to serve as Fury’s replacement, and Sam’s background with the government and other heroes makes him the perfect candidate to assemble the new Avengers team to face Jonathan Majors’ Kang in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
1 Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
Finally, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Valentina Allegra de Fontaine is already acting in a similar role to Nick Fury’s in the MCU, making her the most likely replacement for Jackson’s character. Valentina has been recruiting characters for some time, with her ultimate goal set to be revealed during next year’s Thunderbolts. The movie will feature her covert team, which will exist parallel to the upcoming new Avengers roster. The announcement that Thunderbolts includes Bucky Barnes was interesting, as it shows that Valentina’s goals might be less shady than originally anticipated.
Still, by bringing in characters like US Agent and Yelena Belova, Valentina shows that she is not afraid of getting her hands bloody to get the job done – something Fury was also willing to do, as evidenced by him recruiting Black Widow out of the KGB. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever also revealed that Valentina is the Director of the CIA, which mirrors Fury’s role at SHIELD, and is another point in favor of her potentially becoming the new Nick Fury of the MCU, perhaps playing a role in the next Avengers team coming together besides just setting up her Thunderbolts.