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This article has spoilers for every film in the Marvel cinematic universe.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe… if you’ve just clicked into this article, it’s likely that you need little reminding of how much it changed the landscape of Hollywood. But that won’t stop us recapping for continuity’s sake. Heck, it’s what Kevin Feige would want.
It began in 2008, then, with the landmark casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. It’s sometimes hard to remember how much a risk that was at the time, but it sure paid off. The movie, directed by Jon Favreau, was strong, and a huge hit. The notion of a post-credits sting was introduced…and it was a big one, too – Samuel L Jackson namedropping the Avengers Initiative.
Since then, we’ve seen the Avengers in full-blown action twice – in The Avengers, and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. We’ve also seen multiple solo films for Iron Man, Thor and Captain America. The Hulk got a standalone film, as did the wonderfully obscure (at the time) Guardians Of The Galaxy. And it’s all been liked together by an intricate web of stings, teases, references, and more Easter Eggs than, well, Easter Sunday.
But even in a franchise as precisely planned as the MCU, material still ends up on the cutting room floor. Here are 25 of the best scenes that got chopped during Marvel’s first two phases (up to and including Age Of Ultron)…
1. Games night (Iron Man)
What happens? Tony is trapped in captivity, Shaun Toub’s Yinsen decides to liven things up with a game. Their intellectual rivalry explodes all over the screen, before they begin a serious discussion and soon get interrupted by terrorist angry about his laundry. He ends up dead.
Why didn’t it make the cut? The gaming and the laundry are cut, but the discussion still happens. Perhaps Marvel didn’t want a life in captivity to look too cushty?
2. Party in Dubai (Iron Man)
What happens? This one’s pure Tony Stark. He hasn’t announced to the world that he’s Iron Man yet, but he needs to travel to a different continent to free a village and blow up some terrorists. His solution? Throw a massive party, seduce some women, and escape during a fireworks display.
Why didn’t it make the cut? It’s non-vital to continuity. The suit can fly, after all, so we don’t need the stop-off in Dubai.
3. Bruce’s suicide attempt (The Incredible Hulk)
What happens? As an alternate opening, Bruce Banner is up in some snowy mountains. Having given up hope of curing his condition, he gets a gun out and begins trying to kill himself. The Hulk has different ideas, though. Meanwhile, Captain America is frozen far below.
Why didn’t it make the cut? At a guess, it was deemed too dark for the opening sequence of a family film. The scene remains in the ‘head canon’ of many though, especially after Bruce recalled putting a bullet in his mouth during The Avengers.
4. ‘You’re not gonna like me when I’m angry’ (The Incredible Hulk)
What happens? Presumably as penance for nicking a pizza to infiltrate a science lab, Stanley gets Bruce to drop off some genuine orders, bringing back flashbacks of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. There’s a bit of a Good Will Hunting vibe to Bruce’s first delivery, and an iconic Banner phrase during the second.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Again, it’s non-vital – a couple of comedy beats were seemingly sacrificed in favour of streamlining. Arguably, the ‘you won’t like me when I’m… hungry’ line from the earlier chase is fan service enough.
5. Bruce and Samson (The Incredible Hulk)
What happens? Ed Norton’s Bruce and Ty Burrell’s underutilised Doc Samson have a bit of a chat about Betty, Bruce’s condition and Samson’s dark thoughts. This conversation gave Samson a bit more depth, which would have been useful if Burrell had ever reprised the role.
Why didn’t it make a cut? A lot was cut from The Incredible Hulk, and the legends about the on-the-fly nature of some scripting decisions here need no repeating. They just marked this as ‘fat to be trimmed,’ it would seem.
6. A sick opening (Iron Man 2)
What happens? This opening is absolutely sick. In the literal sense, that is. Yup, Tony is vomiting into a toilet in this less-than-glamorous alternate opening to Iron Man 2. It seeds Tony’s alcoholism and palladium poisoning better than the official, more fun, opening. Also, with hindsight, it kind-of teases Tony’s Iron Man 3 PTSD. He seems very ill equipped to deal with his life here, after all.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Iron Man 2 is – whatever your stance on the film – more about the fun than the deep stuff. Cutting this scene and getting straight to the ‘good’ part is very in keeping with the rest of the film.
7. Coulson talks hot dogs (Iron Man 2)
What happens? This one’s an extended scene, with Pepper spotting Agent Phil Coulson in attendance during the Senate committee sequence. While the brilliant Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer natters on, Tony and Phil both independently recommend the same hot dog joint.
Why didn’t it make the cut? A case of reprioritizing, I would guess. Hot dogs aren’t the most important thing on Tony’s plate at this point in time. It’s a fun scene, though.
8. Natasha flirting, up close (Iron Man 2)
What happens? At this point, Tony didn’t know that Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha was undercover with S.H.I.E.L.D., so he proceeded to flirt relentlessly with her. In a bid to keep a close eye on him, she plays along. Pepper gets pissed off.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Although seeing Black Widow wielding an Iron Man gauntlet is a cool fan-pleasing moment, the scene doesn’t add much to the plot that the boxing ring scene hadn’t already established. That’s our take, anyway.
9. Thor and Loki introduced, as adults (Thor)
What happens? After Thor throws a wine glass into a fire and shouts ‘another’ (which made me laugh today, but wouldn’t have at the time – he later repeats the line on Earth to comic effect), grown-up Thor and Loki get their big introductions and share a heartfelt spot of brotherly banter.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Although these character beats are missed, the final cut version (Thor showing off, Loki looking on with a glare) plays just as well.
10. Thor Saves Selvig (Thor)
What happens? A building has been blown up in a fight on Earth. Selvig takes a hit, so Thor launches into action, saving him with Asgardian technology. It’s a big sign of worthiness, especially in this de-powered stage for Thor.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Probably to keep the action flowing faster. It’s a shame, though, as more pre-hammer-lifting scenes of Thor being heroic wouldn’t have gone amiss.
11. Selvig namedrops S.W.O.R.D. (Thor)
What happens? Just a brief alternate ending here, with a final send-off for all the characters. Notably, Selvig is doing some science stuff, and suggests using some S.W.O.R.D. data alongside the S.H.I.E.L.D.’s records. Then, Jane and Darcy set off a beacon to help Thor find them. Cut to black.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Although comic book fans would have loved the S.W.O.R.D. (a S.H.I.E.L.D. subdivision from the comics, also mentioned in the Agent Carter one-shot) reference, the scene doesn’t add much that we couldn’t have guessed (a Hank Pym namedrop was binned for similar reasons, we assume). Also, the finished version of the film leaves Thor and Jane on wobblier ground romantically, setting up some tension in Thor 2 (“you were in New York!!”).
12. Rogers/Stark tension (Captain America: The First Avenger)
What happens? Steve Rogers retires from the press circuit and is delivered a medal by Colonel Phillips. Howard Stark says he’s not sure if he trusts Rogers’ word about HYDRA’s weapons. Watching it years later, I’ve decided to take this as a Civil War tease, and no one can tell me otherwise.
Why didn’t it make the cut? The usual – the film flowed just as well, if not better, without it. There’s not many deleted scenes from Cap’s first adventure, but this is the most interesting one.
13. Cap’s lovelorn café trip (The Avengers)
What happens? Cap watches a documentary about his own life, looks up his old friends (including Peggy – now Hampshire-based), and decides to visit a café. Here he meets a waitress who he later saves in the invasion. Their interaction during the battle would be more significant, had this scene been included. Also, Stan Lee makes another cameo.
Why didn’t it make the cut? This one, as with most of The Avengers‘ deleted scenes, was surely cut for time. Joss Whedon’s first cut was said to be around three and a half hours long.
14. Dude, where’s my sceptre? (The Avengers)
What happens? Two deleted scenes for the price of one here – the first sees Loki plotting with The Other. The second sees Loki on the verge of face-palming upon realising that he’s left the sceptre somewhere. It fills in a tiny plot gap in that regard. We miss the ‘glorious death’ gag more, though.
Why didn’t they make the cut? Again, Whedon’s first cut of The Avengers was way too long for Marvel Studios’ liking. The finished version still establishes that Loki is pretty forgetful, though, by showing the sceptre lying around atop Stark Tower like a lost set of keys.
15. Harley’s bully (Iron Man 3)
What happens? E.J., Harley’s bully, sees Tony at his lowest ebb. Later, Tony tries really hard to save his life. Putting this much effort into saving someone, and a bullying arsehole at that, adds emphasis to the theme that Tony is the hero, not the suits.
Why didn’t it make the cut? At two hours and ten minutes, Iron Man 3 is about as long as a superhero sequel should be. This more detailed arc about Harley’s bully was probably cut for streamlining purposes, then.
16. Maya’s final sacrifice (Iron Man 3)
What happens? In her final moments of life, Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen crawls closer to an about-to-explode Extremis plant in order to reach the computer and forward lots of information about Extremis to Tony, so he can ‘torch it’ and ‘start again.’
Why didn’t it make the cut? It’s just not vital plot info. We can assume that Tony kept all the info he wanted after he eventually busted out of that bed-frame-and-cable-ties dungeon.
17. Trevor’s chance to shine (Iron Man 3)
What happens? This one descends into a blooper reel, but it’s a fun scene nonetheless. Trevor uses his acting chops to defuse a difficult radio discussion. While Han Solo would just shoot the thing, it’s no challenge for the toast of Croydon.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Iron Man 3 loves a comedy moment, but maybe this one was deemed a step too far.
18. Thor and Frigga chat about Loki (Thor: The Dark World)
What happens? Thor walks in on his mum doing something naughty… talking to Loki. What follows is a sweet motherly scene where she discusses her compassion for Loki, despite everything. She compares his evil bent to Thor’s banishment in his first solo film.
Why didn’t it make the cut? We know that reshoots were called to inject more Loki into proceedings, so the cutting of this scene – where he is discussed in interesting ways – is a bit of a mystery. Frigga’s motherly love in this scene could have added more weight to her death, too.
19. Loki’s Cap cosplay (Thor: The Dark World)
What happens? The exact same comedic scene with Loki impersonating people on an otherwise unremarkable walk down a corridor (with handy pillars), with one difference – Tom Hiddleston dons Cap’s costume, not Chris Evans.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Well, because Chris Evans turned up for a cameo. It’s still fun to watch, though.
20. Sitwell sends Hill packing (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
What happens? Cobie Smulders’ Agent Hill and Maximiliano Hernandez’s Agent Sitwell discuss Fury’s funeral and Cap’s fugitive status. Sitwell tells Hill to leave Washington, foreshadowing that he’s a bit of a baddie.
Why didn’t it make the cut? It’s a nice extra, but unnecessary to the story. If anything, not foreshadowing Sitwell’s loyalties too heavily made the HYDRA twist more shocking.
21. Cap throws S.H.I.E.L.D. off the scent (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
What happens? S.H.I.E.L.D. turn on Cap, and immediately think they’ve found him thanks to a tracker in his suit. Thankfully, Cap already dumped his uniform at a basketball court.
Why didn’t it make the cut? It’s a nice bit of one-upmanship from Cap, but doesn’t really serve the plot. Just cut to him in a hoodie, don’t mention a tracker, and you’ve achieved the same goal. A never-filmed fight scene between Cap and Hawkeye would have been cooler, but maybe they’ve saved that idea for Civil War.
22. Sisterly love (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
What happens? A lack of screentime between Nebula and Gamora is one of the few weaknesses that many can agree on regarding James Gunn’s space opera Guardians Of The Galaxy. This scene kills two birds with one stone – fighting and talking.
Why didn’t it make the cut? At two hours and two minutes, it looks like Gunn and/or Marvel wanted Guardians to clock in around a quite specific time. That’s our best guess, but Gunn has already told us to expect more sisterly rivalry in Guardians Of The Galaxy 2.
23. Awkward prison guards (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
What happens? John C. Reilly’s Rhomann Dey and Peter Serafinowicz’s Denarian Saal discuss where to send the Guardians. Dey has some trouble with his futuristic clothing.
Why didn’t it make the cut? One gag cut in favor of smoother edit is par for the course at this stage.
24. Thor’s dream – now with added Loki! (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
What happens? Thor’s dream/vision and subsequent rushing off is one of the strands in Age Of Ultron that feels a bit unfinished. There’s a longer version of the dream that includes Loki doing an impression of Odin, according to Empire’s interview with Joss Whedon.
In the longer cut (again according to that interview), Thor enters the pond of destiny looking for answers, and gets possessed by a character/characters called the Norn. Selvig questions him for answers, and Chris Hemsworth gets to flex his acting muscles a bit more.
Why didn’t it make the cut? The dreams ‘were not an executive favourite’ according to Whedon. A lot ended up on the cutting room floor in this one – the original cut was 195 minutes long, and was cut down to 141 minutes.
25. Quicksilver’s survival (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
What happens? Joss Whedon also told Empire that he shot ‘something else’ that alluded to Quicksilver surviving that fateful flurry of gunfire. He was also shot standing with the new Avengers line-up at the close of the film.
Speaking of which, Whedon has also acknowledged his attempts to get Spider-Man and Captain Marvel into that final scene. See here for more on that.
Why didn’t it make the cut? Whedon felt that it would be “disingenous […] especially the second time around, to make what I refer to as ‘a war movie’ and say that there is no price and everybody walks away.” It’s worth remembering that Marvel executives could probably bring Quicksilver back if they really wanted, though.
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