If Marvel Had Followed Through On These 31 Discarded Ideas, The MCU Would Be Damn Near Unrecognizable

    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?"

    Obadiah looking at the Iron Monger suit

    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).

    Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges

    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 comic's character."

    Tony Stark reveals he is Iron Man to a roomful of reporters

    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."

    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."

    John Krasinski and Chris Evans in costume as Captain America

    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 the 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.

    Captain America piloting a plane

    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.

    Jensen Ackles and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

    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.

    The Wasp in her first appearance

    9. In another early version of The Avengers' screenplay, Ezekiel 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."

    Loki forcing people to kneel

    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.

    Maria Stark with a younger Tony

    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."

    Patty Jenkins on set with Gal Gadot in costume as Wonder Woman

    12. Hela was almost the villain in Thor: The Dark World, but that didn't happen for "various reasons." She was replaced with Malekith.

    Malekith and Hela

    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!"

    Loki's death scene, plus him sitting on Odin's throne

    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.

    Captain America and Nick Fury look at SHIELD's collection of fighter jets

    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."

    Captain America blocks a punch from the Winter Soldier with his shield

    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.

    Joseph Gordon Levitt and Chris Pratt as Star-Lord

    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."

    Nebula from the first Guardians movie

    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.

    Rocket bearing his teeth while in prison

    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."

    Captain Marvel on a subway

    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.

    The Hulk in Age of Ultron

    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.

    Paul Bettany as Vision

    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).

    The Avengers

    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.

    Dr. Strange in costume

    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.

    Matthew McConaughey and Kurt Russell as Ego

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

    David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust

    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.

    Star Lord and Ego

    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.

    Nick Fury and Spider-Man together

    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.

    Thor and Loki in Thor: Ragnarok

    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."

    T'Challa says "this is no place to die" and then turns to dust

    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 the final moments of Infinity War, instead.

    Thanos with the gauntlet

    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."

    Black Widow dies after letting go of Hawkeye