This article contains MCU spoilers.
It’s been 14 years since Robert Downey Jr. first stepped into our lives as Iron Man, and across four phases, a whole Infinity Saga, and more Easter eggs than we care to count, the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to go from strength to strength.
The journey from page to screen is never an easy one, and while the MCU packs a lot into its runtimes, there’s inevitably some stuff that gets left on the cutting room floor. Whether it be post-credit stingers or entire characters, the carefully-crafted franchise could be completely upturned by axing a simple scene.
Scenes like Stephen Strange healing an injured dog or Steve Rogers struggling to adjust to modern life are all well and good for tugging at the heartstrings, but they’re hardly MCU-defining moments. If you’re ready to suit up in spandex, here are 10 deleted scenes that would’ve completely changed the MCU as you know it.
Cap and Hulk in the Ice (Filmed)
It’s no secret that Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk is the black sheep of the MCU – coming just after 2008’s Iron Man but when the idea of a shared universe was merely a seed. An alternate opening showed the grim reality of Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner battling the alter ego of Hulk.
Taking place in a bleak backdrop of the Arctic, Banner tried to take his own life with a gun, only to have Hulk spit the bullet out. The enraged green giant went on to smash a glacier to pieces. If you look closely, you’ll see the frozen body of Captain America and his shield being freed from their icy slumber.
This would’ve overhauled the origin story of Chris Evans’ First Avenger and how Nick Fury came to find him in the Fury’s Big Week comic series. Still, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo was a great way to tie Norton’s forgotten Hulk into the lore of the MCU.
Mutants and Spider-Man Right from the Start (Filmed)
More than just having the honor of kick-starting the MCU, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man planted the seeds for everything that would come after. The post-credit stinger of Nick Fury gave us a taste of the Avengers, but branching well beyond, it nearly introduced a certain wall-crawling hero and some gifted youngsters.
In an extended cut of Samuel L. Jackson’s famed post-credit scene, Fury mentioned “radioactive bug bites” and “assorted mutants.” It’s wild to think the MCU’s first outing could’ve introduced the concepts of Spider-Man and the X-Men, but those convoluted rights issues nipped it in the bud.
Instead, we had to wait until 2016’s Captain America: Civil War to see Peter Parker in action, while 2022’s Ms. Marvel has only just teased the imminent arrival of the X-Men and mutantkind in the main MCU timeline.
Quicksilver Lives to Fight Another Day (Filmed)
As one of the few MCU deaths that stuck, the demise of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver, in Avengers: Age of Ultron is a real tear-jerker. While it was bad news for the star’s short tenure in the MCU, the Maximoff twins nearly survived the movie’s climax.
In case Disney overturned Joss Whedon’s decision to kill Quicksilver, there was an alternate ending where he survived being shot, as well as Pietro in a new uniform at the Avengers compound. Instead, a heartbroken Wanda Maximoff (complete with her OG accent) wept for her fallen sibling.
Quicksilver’s survival would’ve undoubtedly altered Wanda’s tragic arc, and we don’t see her being Multiverse of Madness’ big bad if she’d had her twin brother by her side. Also, without Quicksilver’s death, we’d never have got THAT Ralph Bohner reveal from WandaVision. Then again, that might’ve been for the best!
Thanos and the Living Tribunal (Scripted)
With a movie as massive as Avengers: Infinity War, it’s no surprise that more ideas got the chop than average. Alongside Bruce Banner turning into Smart Hulk during the Battle of Wakanda, and Wanda Maximoff surviving the Snap, another scripted idea that never came to pass was Thanos meeting the Living Tribunal.
Here, Doctor Strange messed with Mad Titan’s mind and sent him on a trippy mystery tour of his various crimes. Thanos was then going to be dumped in front of the three-faced judge of the Multiverse and determined guilty. In the end, the concept of the Living Tribunal was deemed “too big” to introduce here.
We did eventually get a glimpse of the Living Tribunal during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ dimension hopping, as well as seeing a statue honouring it in Love and Thunder.
Miles Morales (Filmed)
Following Peter Parker’s MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, it was Spider-Man: Homecoming that let Tom Holland stretch his (eight) legs. Alongside the introduction of characters including Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, and Flash Thompson, there was also Donald Glover’s Aaron Davis, who could become the Prowler.
Those up on their comics will know Davis is the uncle of Miles Morales, which already had fans theorising about the hero’s debut. Miles is still MIA in the MCU, but back in Homecoming, a deleted scene all but confirmed he’s out there somewhere.
After being glued to a car by Spider-Man, Aaron phoned “Miles” and apologised that he wasn’t going to make it to a prior engagement. Following the success of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we’re hoping for his live-action arrival pretty soon.
Yondu Lives (Filmed)
Like Quicksilver, another death that had us reaching for the tissues was Yondu’s in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Michael Rooker turned the villainous Ravager into a doting father for Peter Quill, which has led to questions about how/if the fan-favorite could return.
Rooker actually filmed scenes for Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, giving a meta take on how Yondu could’ve survived. Just when Karl Urban’s Skurge was about to cut the head off an Asgardian, Yondu stopped by to ask for the offices of Stan [Lee] and Louis [Esposito].
It was going to be some She-Hulk or Deadpool-inspired breaking of the fourth wall and a particularly out-there inclusion, but ultimately would’ve felt misplaced…. even in an outing as wacky as Waititi’s.
The Return of the Ten Rings (Filmed)
Love it or loathe it, Iron Man 3 has done a great job of turning its reputation around thanks to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It wasn’t always the case though, and before we got to see the reveal of the “real” Mandarin, the shady cabal was supposed to return in Ant-Man.
When Darren Cross was showing off the Yellowjacket suit, one of the potential buyers featured a Ten Rings tattoo on his neck. It was a direct continuation of the All Hail the King One-Shot, which also did its best to redeem THAT Mandarin twist that’s still arguably a smudge on the MCU’s report card.
With the Ant-Man scene cut, we had to wait until 2021 to get answers to our questions. The Ten-Rings tattoo coming just a year after All Hail the King suggests that the organization could’ve had a continued presence in the MCU.
Zaddy Zeus (Filmed)
The casting of Russell Crowe was one of Thor: Love and Thunder’s big ones, and while his character was originally shrouded in mystery, many rightly deduced he’d be playing Zeus.
Love and Thunder’s pantheon scene introduced Zeus as the arrogant leader of the gods – with a penchant for orgies. Zeus was supposed to be unlikeable, and while he was seemingly killed off with his own lighting bolt, he returned for the movie’s second post-credit scene to set up the arrival of Hercules in the MCU.
But originally, Zeus was going to be a more sympathetic character who took Thor under his wing. With the death of Anthony Hopkins’ Odin in Thor: Ragnarok, Zeus stepped up as a father figure to Thor. Instead of having his lightning bolt taken from him, the deleted scene shows Zeus offering up the weapon to help Thor take out Gorr the God Butcher.
Zola’s Escape (Scripted)
Considering the massive timeline jump between movies, it was hard to bring back many Captain America: The First Avenger characters for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Still, Toby Jones’ snivelling Arnim Zola was one of them.
In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, Natasha Romanoff and Steve Rogers traced a signal to Camp Lehigh and found Zola had uploaded his consciousness into a computer. Zola triggered a self-destruct sequence and seemingly perished, but in an alternate script, he was going to survive.
In the deleted scene, Rogers flicked a switch and let Zola escape into the internet. Tim Blake Nelson’s the Leader is apparently the big bad of Captain America: New World Order, but just imagine if we got more of Zola.
Captain Marvel Arrives Early (Partially Filmed)
One of the most infamous MCU deleted scenes had Carol Danvers arriving a full four years before Brie Larson led Captain Marvel. We’ve already covered the “new” lineup Avengers: Age of Ultron assembled in its post-credit scene, but did you know it originally featured Captain Marvel?
Early drafts of the script reportedly included mentions of Captain Marvel, and with others claiming casting was underway, a blonde stand-in was used to represent her in the parting shot. The scrapped Captain Marvel scene was included in the Infinity Saga box set, proving its legitimacy with an unnamed woman rising to the challenge.
Apparently, while Whedon pushed to introduce Carol Danvers, Kevin Feige nixed it because he didn’t want to flippantly tack her onto the end of a movie that already boasted Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Fair enough!