The Marvel Cinematic Universe is sprawling to say the least – after 10 years and 23 movies, there was bound to be some material left on the cutting-room floor.
Here are seven plots, movies and character details which never made it to cinema screens.
1. Thor Ragnarok's original plot
The original idea was butchered by cuts, director Joss Whedon told the Empire film podcast in 2015, and would have seen a third Thor movie in which he would hunt down the infinity stones all on his lonesome.
This idea was scrapped when Taika Waititi was brought on to direct the film, which was a lifesaver for the Norse god. Thor: Ragnarok holds 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
2. The real villain of Iron Man 3
According to director Shane Black, Tony Stark's old love interest Maya Hansen was set to be the baddie. Instead, Rebecca Hall's character was drastically reduced. Why? Toy marketability. No, that's not a joke.
In an interview with Uproxx, Black said: "There was an early draft of Iron Man 3 where we had an inkling of a problem. Which is that we had a female character who was the villain in the draft. We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand and we’ve changed our minds because, after consulting, we’ve decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female.
"So, we had to change the entire script because of toy making. Now, that’s not Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore."
Yup. Marvel has been making steps towards better representation but back in 2013, bosses apparently didn't think people would buy female action figures.
3. Captain America adjusting to modern life
In 2012's The Avengers movie, Steve Rogers jumps straight into hero mode after waking up decades in the future, the world drastically changed.
Many scenes were filmed which showed Rogers adjusting to the new present day, but they were left on the cutting-room floor, denying us the opportunity to see Chris Evans flex some different acting muscles on screen.
4. The Incredible Hulk 2
After Ed Norton departed the role and Marvel brought in Mark Ruffalo, a sequel to the 2008 movie The Incredible Hulk was still on schedule. But a solo Hulk movie with Ruffalo never made it to cinemas.
The reason has never been confirmed, but likely stems from the deal between Marvel and Universal Studios. In 1996, Marvel went bankrupt and sold off many of its properties – which is why Spider-Man belongs to Sony.
Universal nabbed the Hulk, and even though Marvel regained the rights to the giant green superhero, Universal still retained the right of first refusal over the distribution of any solo Hulk films.
So, if Marvel ever planned to make a standalone Hulk film, Universal gets first dibs on distributing the feature – and therefore rakes in plenty of its possible profits.
(Or it could be the tepid fan reception to every Hulk solo movie to date. But we don't talk about that.)
The villain now set to be the main antagonist of the Black Widow solo movie almost had his own outing. In 2008, a Taskmaster movie was being floated around by director Joe Carnahan but 11 years later nothing has come to light.
The movie was shelved for much the same reason a solo Ruffalo-Hulk movie was never made: complicated rights issues between studios. Now that Taskmaster has reverted fully back to Marvel, however, his dastardly face will make an appearance going up against Black Widow.
6. Thanos' backstory
Avengers: Infinity War initially featured a 10-minute scene fleshing out its villain's troubling backstory.
Joe Russo told ComicBook.com: "We even had a draft where you saw 10 minutes of his backstory. You saw him as a child, you saw him try to convince his planet that it was doomed and recommend that they randomly kill half the population to save the planet. He gets sent to a prison off-planet and eventually watches the planet destroy itself….
"It is a whole other film, but sometimes that’s the value in a story room, of writing that draft in the script because you go ‘alright, at least I have that in my brain now'... He’s a very tortured character who’s sociopathic, but ultimately it’s benevolent sociopathy.”
His benevolence is debatable at best, but maybe a glimpse into the tortured life that led Thanos down his genocidal path might have made audiences empathise with him. A little bit.
7. Valkyrie's sexuality
Marvel doesn't have the best track record when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, despite efforts from some key players. Valkyrie star Tessa Thompson approached Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi about making Valkyrie explicitly bisexual in the movie, as she is in the comics.
She even convinced him to shoot a scene in which there's a glimpse of a woman coming out of Valkyrie’s bedroom. The scene was eventually cut, but Thompson has vocally and enthusiastically confirmed Valkyrie's sexuality whether it's shown on screen or not.
She’s bi. And yes, she cares very little about what men think of her. What a joy to play! https://t.co/d0LZKTHCfL
- Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) October 21, 2017
"There were things that we talked about that we allowed to exist in the characterisation, but maybe not be explicit in the film," she told Rolling Stone.
In fact, another romantic moment featuring Valkyrie was also cut. In Avengers: Endgame, as Thor leaves her in charge of New Asgard, there was an improvised moment in which she puts her hand on his shoulder, and he leans in for a kiss only to be shot down.
Joe Russo described the dialogue to EW Morning Live. He said Valkyrie responded to the advance with 'What are you doing?' Then, Thor replied: 'Oh, I thought that touch…'
"Valkyrie says, 'No, that was, like, a goodbye tap I was giving you'," Russo explained. "It was a really funny beat, but we cut it."
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