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Personally, I think they should’ve kept Nick Fury as Spider-Man’s mentor.

1.

Obadiah Stane, aka Iron Monger, originally survived Iron Man. According to Jeff Bridges, when he was first hired for the role, the script described someone opening the Iron Monger suit following his defeat and discovering that it was empty. However, when the time came to shoot that scene, nobody opened up his suit. When Bridges asked if they were “kill[ing] my guy,” the filmmakers responded, “Well, it’s a comic book. You could come back. Who knows?”


Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

In the finished version of the film, Obadiah is killed during his final battle with Iron Man, when an electrical surge from the arc reactor causes him to fall into it and explode. 

2.

Stane was supposed to be “a secondary villain to the Mandarin,” according to president and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige. But at some point during the development process, the filmmakers realized that to make sure “Iron Man became what Iron Man became,” Stane had to be the film’s main villain (and die).


Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

The Mandarin sort of appeared in Iron Man 3 (though he was revealed to be a “bumbling actor” named Trevor Slattery), but a 2014 Marvel short entitled “All Hail the King” revealed that the real Mandarin exists. He will appear in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, played by Tony Leung. 

3.

Tony Stark didn’t reveal that he was the titular superhero at the end of Iron Man, until Robert Downey Jr. improvised the “I am Iron Man” line. Feige said that the choice to keep the line, which “jettisoned all of the baggage of a secret identity,” inspired Marvel to not be “afraid to adapt and evolve and to change things.” He noted that the change worked because Tony Stark abandoning the cover story to reveal his identity was “very much in keeping with the comics character.”

4.

Emily Blunt was director Jon Favreau’s first choice for Black Widow in Iron Man 2, but she passed on the role. In 2021, she called the decision a “heartbreaker” and explained, “I was contracted to do Gulliver’s Travels. I didn’t want to do Gulliver’s Travels.”


Derek Storm / Marvel / Everett Collection

Scarlett Johansson, who screen-tested for the role but hadn’t initially “felt right for it,” ultimately got the part. 

5.

Before Chris Evans was offered the role of Captain America, John Krasinski tested for the part. On Ellen, he said that Chris Hemsworth (Thor) walked by while he was putting on Cap’s suit and said, “Ya look good, mate.” Krasinski joked that seeing how jacked Hemsworth was made him take off the suit and quit, but he admitted that in reality, “I acted my heart out that day. And it didn’t work out, so.”


Getty / Steve Granitz / Marvel / Courtesy Everett Collection

6.

Meanwhile, Chris Evans almost didn’t take the role himself. He was suffering from anxiety due to a combination of factors including an upcoming premiere (of Fantastic Four: Rise of Silver Surfer), losing out on a few roles, and a breakup, so when Marvel offered him a screen test for Captain America, he turned them down. They then offered him the role, and after speaking to “therapists, family and future co-star Robert Downey Jr.” Evans accepted it.


Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

Evans reflected, “It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I really owe that to Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake.” 

7.

Jensen Ackles, best known for portraying Dean Winchester on Supernatural, was one of the actors who auditioned for Captain America, and though he didn’t get the part, he impressed the studio enough to be offered Hawkeye in The Avengers. He turned down the role due to his pre-existing commitment to Supernatural.


Kristin Callahan / Marvel / Everett Collection

In a full circle moment, Ackles is playing Soldier Boy, “a parody of Marvel’s Captain America,” in the upcoming season of The Boys

8.

At one point, Joss Whedon didn’t think they were going to be able to have Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers, so in one version of the script, he replaced her with the Wasp.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Johansson ended up being able to do the film, so the Wasp made her first appearance in the MCU in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. (Her alter ego, Hope van Dyne, appears in Ant-Man, but she’s not the Wasp at that point.) 

9.

In another early version of The Avengers‘ screenplay, Ezekial Stane (Obadiah Stane’s son) featured prominently as an antagonist. Whedon said he “worried that one British character actor [Tom Hiddleston as Loki] was not enough to take on Earth’s mightiest heroes.” His efforts to add more brawn to the bad guys’ side was not well-received by Feige, but Louis D’Esposito (Marvel’s co-president) argued that while the script was “all wrong,” it was actually “really good wrong.”


Walt Disney Co. /Courtesy Everett Collection

10.

An unidentified actor filmed at least part of a flashback scene as Tony Stark’s mother Maria for Iron Man 3, but it was cut. The character later appeared in Captain America: Civil War, portrayed by Hope Davis.

11.

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was hired to direct Thor: The Dark World, but she left the project because, “They wanted to do a story that I thought was not going to succeed, and I knew it couldn’t be me.” While no director wants to be attached to a public failure, Jenkins feared that she would be more harshly judged (and therefore lose out on future opportunities) because of her gender. She explained, “If they hired any guy to do it, it wouldn’t be a big deal.”


Clay Enos / Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Thor: The Dark World was directed by Alan Taylor, who is best known for his work on TV shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men

12.

Hela was almost the villain in Thor: The Dark World, but that didn’t happen for “various reasons.” She was replaced with Malakith.


Marvel / Courtesy Everett Collection

Hela later appeared as the villain in Thor: Ragnarok

13.

Tom Hiddleston revealed that Loki’s death in Thor: The Dark World was supposed to be permanent. He said that “Chris [Hemsworth] and I played that scene for real,” and that it was supposed to be the natural conclusion of Loki’s redemptive arc, where he would save his brother and Jane Foster but sacrifice himself in the process. However, when the death scene was shown to test audiences, they refused to accept that it wasn’t another one of Loki’s tricks. So the creative team made it so: At the end of the film, Loki is sitting on Odin’s throne in disguise, a twist that Hiddleston said worked because “I didn’t even know it was a twist!

14.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier almost opened with a flashback to a “massive” battle in World War II, which would’ve ended with a “significant moment for Cap,” but the scene was cut about two months prior to the start of shooting.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

15.

There was a planned sequence in Winter Soldier that would’ve shown Hawkeye chasing Captain America after being told that he’s a fugitive from S.H.I.E.L.D. Mid-fight, Hawkeye would’ve revealed to Captain America that he was trying to help him, and told him that there was a tracker on his suit. It was cut due to conflicts with Jeremy Renner’s schedule, which directors Anthony and Joe Russo called “heartbreaking.”


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

16.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt was offered the role of Star-Lord, but he turned it down so that he could star in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Eddie Redmayne and Glenn Howerton were also considered, but Chris Pratt ultimately won the part.


Getty / Ferdaus Shamim / Marvel / Courtesy Everett Collection

17.

Karen Gillan revealed that her character Nebula was originally supposed to die in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. But Nebula survived, which meant that Gillan could, in her words, “explore all these amazing things about her past and her relationship with Gamora.”


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.

Rocket Raccoon didn’t appear in early versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy script, due to concerns that he’d look “cartoony.” But Nicole Perlman, the co-writer of the movie, wanted to include him, and Feige ultimately let Perlman keep Rocket due to his own personal affinity for the character.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

19.

Captain Marvel appeared in an early draft of Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Feige thought it would’ve “done that character a disservice” to appear as a fully formed superhero with no backstory or character arc. Whedon eventually replaced Captain Marvel’s dramatic entrance with Scarlet Witch’s, about which Feige said, “she’s come to their side, and she deserves the cool intro.”


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Captain Marvel made her MCU debut in 2019’s film of the same name. 

20.

Joss Whedon cut an apparently amazing Hulk moment from Avengers: Age of Ultron, because while “it’s a great gag,” he “couldn’t justify it.” He realized that it was weighing down the storytelling in post-production, so he got rid of it. He wouldn’t reveal exactly what the moment entailed, though, since he told Marvel that they could save it for a later movie.


Walt Disney Co. /Courtesy Everett Collection

21.

In other news, Whedon desperately wanted Vision to have a visible penis. Paul Bettany recounted that Feige and D’Esposito tried to convince Whedon otherwise, but he insisted on seeing concept art with visible genitalia, which the artists at Marvel dutifully drew up for him. Seeing the finished images convinced Whedon that he was wrong.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

22.

At first, Iron Man had a small role in Captain America: Civil War, which only would’ve required “three weeks of work.” But Robert Downey Jr. wanted a more “substantial role in the film’s plot,” angering Ike Perlmutter (chairman of Marvel Entertainment). Perlmutter told the screenwriters to remove Iron Man from the script entirely, but negotiations between Feige and Downey Jr.’s representatives continued, resulting in a deal that made the actor happy enough to sign on (and Marvel happy enough to write him back in).


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

23.

Benedict Cumberbatch was approached to play the starring role in Doctor Strange, but he turned it down due to pre-existing commitments he had to a stage production of Hamlet and BBC’s Sherlock. Tom Hardy, Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix were all considered, with Phoenix getting the closest before pulling out due to the requirements and limitations of making a superhero blockbuster. Cumberbatch was offered the job after the studio agreed to push back the filming schedule to accommodate his other roles.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

24.

Matthew McConaughey turned down the role of Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, because he decided he’d rather star in The Dark Tower. McConaughey explained, “I like Guardians of the Galaxy, but what I saw was ‘It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.’ I’d feel like an amendment.” He preferred the more “grounded” fantasy of the Stephen King adaptation.


Getty / Rick Kern / Marvel / Courtesy Everett Collection

Kurt Russell was cast as Ego instead. 

25.

James Gunn wanted to get David Bowie a cameo appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but Bowie’s illness prevented it.


Courtesy Everett Collection

26.

Chris Pratt pitched a meta joke where Star-Lord would see Ego and recognize him as Kurt Russell, but James Gunn quickly shot it down.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

27.

The co-writer and director of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Jon Watts, considered making Nick Fury Peter Parker’s mentor instead of Tony Stark, though he later abandoned the idea.


Columbia Pictures / Marvel Studios/ Courtesy Everett Collection

28.

Taika Waititi envisioned a 1980s-era flashback to Thor and Loki’s childhoods in Thor: Ragnarok. Thor would be a “pudgy little kid walking around with a mullet and being picked on by other kids,” while Loki is a “little emo goth hanging out by himself,” comparable to Draco Malfoy. It got cut because it became “pointless” as the rest of the story developed, and also because it involved Thor meeting Valkyrie, which would’ve screwed up other aspects of the plot.


Marvel /Courtesy Everett Collection

29.

Black Panther executive producer Nate Moore tried to save T’Challa from Thanos’s snap. He “personally urged [the Russo brothers] to reconsider” killing the king of Wakanda, but he was ultimately convinced that the “storytelling made sense.”

30.

Stephen McFeely, the co-writer of both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame (among a lot of other Marvel movies), revealed that they considered delaying The Snap until the end of Endgame‘s first act. They ultimately decided that “the most shocking thing we could do” was leave the franchise on a major cliffhanger, so Thanos wiped out half the universe in final moments of Infinity War, instead.


Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

31.

And finally: There was a version of the Endgame script where Hawkeye was the one who sacrificed his life on Vormir to win the Soul Stone. McFeely recalled that visual effects producer Jen Underdahl read Hawkeye’s death scene and responded, “Don’t you take this away from [Black Widow].” Co-writer Christopher Markus said that Hawkeye not reuniting with his family would be “melodramatic,” while Black Widow’s death was “right and proper.”

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