When it comes to deleted scenes in the MCU, even a little can mean a lot. With so many storylines converging into the intricate universe of Marvel superhero movies, the smallest detail can be significant and can lead to future storylines, characters that may come or go, and much more.
After checking out deleted scenes from the MCU, it seems like the director in question plays a big role in how the movies are put together and whether there are very many deleted scenes at all. According to director James Gunn, there were very few scenes cut from the final version of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, for example, and what was deleted was merely trimming the fat from existing scenes rather than taking out entire elements of the story. In Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, in contrast, there was about 50 minutes that was trimmed from the final cut, including scenes that could've led the franchise into different directions.
Here’s a look at 15 scenes that would've changed characters, filled in significant backstory, and added dimensions that would've had a ripple effect throughout the MCU – but they weren't to be.
15 Donna Strange Cut (Doctor Strange)
Doctor Strange, the movie, omits any mention of Stephen’s childhood or family, and in particular, any mention of his sister Donna. In an interview, director Scott Derrickson mentioned that Lulu Wilson (Ouija, Deliver Us From Evil,) plays Donna Strange as a child in the sequence that was filmed but cut from the movie. In the comic book world, it’s helping Donna when she was injured that inspires Stephen on the road to becoming a doctor. After high school, when Stephen is home on vacation from pre-med at New York college, he goes swimming with her. Donna gets a cramp and drowns, and Stephen feels like a complete failure. The scene is significant because Donna's death is an event that marked Strange deeply and turned him into the selfish, bitter, and also wildly successful neurosurgeon he is before the car accident that once again changes his life. The tragedy and sense of personal responsibility also take his character into different directions than they would've for some guy who was just your average rich, arrogant jerk. Since we’ve only seen Doctor Strange in his MCU debut so far, it remains to be seen how the character will develop and whether his tragic backstory will be revealed at some point down the road.
14 Black Widow's Past (Captain America: Winter Soldier)
Captain America: Winter Soldier makes it to many fans’ best-of-the-MCU lists with a great story that spotlights one of the MCU’s underused characters: Black Widow. It seems like we’ve been waiting for ages for her solo movie, and we know it’s not coming anytime soon. That’s why cutting any footage of her is significant. The scene toward the end of Winter Soldier where Natasha Romanova is busy leaking S.H.I.E.L.D.’s dirty secrets onto the internet as Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce watches was originally longer and more significant than the version that made the final cut. As Pierce reminds Natasha that her own dirty secrets will also be revealed, he specifically mentions “Budapest, Osaka, and The Children’s War." Natasha’s face is visibly disturbed by his words. Clearly, it’s meant to point to her dark back story, one that we've only had frustratingly fragmented glimpses of. We’ve heard her mention Budapest as a mission she went on with Hawkeye, but what about the other two? And when will Black Widow finally get the solo movie she deserves?
13 Loki As The Legitimate Heir (Thor)
This one is huge. Loki, with a combination of personality, style, and pure evil that puts him over the top, is one of the greatest villains in the MCU. Best of all, we know that at the bottom of it all lies good old-fashioned sibling rivalry, something we can relate to – or we’ve heard about, anyway. In the first Thor movie outing, he’s presented as pretty much a douchebag from the word "go." He goads Thor into the disastrous outing to the land of the Frost Giants and then goads his father Odin until he falls into the Odinsleep. In the version of the movie we all know and love, Loki then seizes the throne of Asgard. The rest of his vengeance is the story of a younger brother who’s been left out of the loop. Frigga’s whereabouts are explained later; she refused to leave Odin’s side. There’s a deleted sequence, however, that changes all that fundamentally. In it, Frigga, played by Rene Russo, actually gives Loki the power of the throne. Thor has been banished, and Odin is out of commission – Loki’s the next in line. That puts a whole new spin on his quest to simply reclaim what was rightfully his and on Loki’s actions after that.
12 Bruce Banner's Bullet (The Incredible Hulk)
We’re not sure if including the opening sequence where Bruce tried to kill himself would've helped or hurt the cause of one of the worst-received movies in the MCU, but it did actually have repercussions – even though the scene was deleted and replaced. In the deleted scene, Bruce is the passenger in a 16-wheeler truck, presumably a hitchhiker. We see him get out on a lonely, wintry road and climb to the summit of a snowy mountain range in the high Arctic. He's thinking about Betty, lying bloodied on the floor, and takes out a gun... but the green guy comes along before he can do the deed. The scene was obviously cut and replaced with the montage of how the Hulk came to be as a lab experiment gone awry. Probably, the fact the movie was aimed at kids had something to do with the deletion, but the scene would've added depth to a pretty one-dimensional character. And the suicide attempt has become part of MCU canon – it’s referenced in The Avengers when Bruce says, "I tried to put a bullet in my mouth, and the other guy spit it out." Another item of significance in the deleted scene is Captain America’s shield that lies below the ice in the background.
11 The Ten Rings (Ant-Man)
Darren Cross emerges as the fanatical scientist and villain of Ant-Man, and one of the scenes that were filmed but then deleted from the movie is short and seemingly insignificant... unless you pay attention to the details. There’s a scene where Cross is showing off his own version of Pym’s shrinking technology to potential buyers. It gives us viewers a better view of his lab, but that’s not the important part. If you look closely, one of those potential buyers has a tattoo on his neck. It’s the Ten Rings tattoo. The last time we saw that was in the original Iron Man movie – it was the mark of the terrorist organization that kidnapped Stark and terrorized the countryside. Airing the scene would've acknowledged that the Ten Rings organization could potentially still be active somewhere out there in the MCU.
10 Bucky And The Shield (Captain America: Civil War)
A deleted scene from Captain America: Civil War might be hinting at the future of the MCU. The scene enters the action of the Leipzig-Halle battle from the point of view of the Black Widow, who watches from a rooftop as War Machine runs down Captain America from the air. The Cap's shield bounces out of his hand and Bucky grabs it, hurling it at War Machine, who's hit in the face and momentarily distracted. The Falcon swoops in to deliver it back to Cap on the rebound. Bucky remarks, “I gotta get me one of those.” It seems like just another action sequence in a movie that's admittedly full of them, but there are a couple of significant points. First, as comic book fans will know, Bucky, Falcon, and Steve Rogers have all donned the Captain America suit at one point or another. Second, Bucky’s remark may hint at who gets the red, white, and blue suit next in the MCU as Steve Rogers becomes more and more disenchanted with the role in the next Avengers movie.
9 Caecilius Attempts To Summon Dormammu (Doctor Strange)
As a movie, Doctor Strange – like many in the MCU – juggled adult and family-friendly elements in order to gain as large an audience as possible. We get it. A deleted scene involving Caecilius may have been sacrificed in order to lighten up the mood, so to speak, and keep it in PG-13 territory, but it also changed the look of Doctor Strange’s magical universe. In a scene that didn’t make it to the final cut, Mads Mikkelsen’s sorcerer Caecilius and his followers are attempting to summon an evil entity called "Dormammu." He's god-like, an entity of pure evil, and he rules in the Dark Dimension. Caecilius and five of his followers chant in a circle as the ritual begins. Glowing symbols appear on their foreheads as the Zealots connect with the Dark Dimension – except the last one, who lacks in faith. Caecilius creates a magical blade and slices him in half. Doctor Strange had the onerous task of setting up the concept of the Multiverse in the MCU, and Dormammu does emerge as the ultimate villain in the movie, but the scene would've offered an even better look at the mystical world and the cost of entering it. As the final version turned out, we get a lot of stunning visuals, but only an introduction into the workings of the Multiverse. In the comics, Baron Mordo makes a deal with Dormammu: kill Stephen Strange so the evil entity can re-enter our world. Will Caecilius follow him back into the MCU in Doctor Strange 2?
8 Thor Gets Possessed (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
This deletion is a bit of a head-scratcher. Not only would it have fleshed out the immediate storyline in Age of Ultron, but it would've also helped set the stage for Thanos and Infinity Wars. As it is, Thor is largely absent from the movie, only appearing with key knowledge – such as the exact method of using the Infinity Stone – at convenient moments in the movie. A deleted sequence adds a lot of context. The added footage would've taken place in the scene where Thor enters the cave with Selvig and is subject to visions. In the discarded part of the scene, we see him half submerged in the pool, possessed by the entity they call a Norn. He’s got pearly white demon eyes like Idris Elba's Heimdall, and lightning flashes spark off of him as he speaks prophesies about the Infinity Stones to Selvig. In the final cut version, the demonic possession and babbling are cut, and the Infinity Stones are shown rather than explained. The deleted segments make for a much better tie-in to Thor’s appearance in the Age of Ultron story, and the details could've played out in subsequent MCU movies.
7 Star Lord Flirts With Ti Asha (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
It’s a relatively minor deleted scene from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but it could've opened the door to so much more... In the movie version, Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, is portrayed as a ladies’ man. He totally forgot about Bereet, the one night stand still sleeping in his spaceship. Then, in a scene that got left on the proverbial cutting room floor, he flirts with another blue-skinned alien on Xandar just before he gets the Orb from the Broker. Samara Dixon played the role of Ti Asha, the recipient of Peter’s attentions. It’s a short scene, and it’s easy to see why it was cut since it’s not part of the main storyline of the movie, but at the same time, it could've introduced a whole new dimension to the MCU. Ti Asha Ra is one of the last of the Korbinites in the comic book world, and she’s also the main love interest of Beta Ray Bill, a cybernetic superhero from the comics who could potentially enter the MCU. Beta Ray Bill even beat out Thor at one point in the comic story line before eventually befriending the Asgardian.
6 S.W.O.R.D. & Alternate Ending (Thor)
An alternate ending filmed for Thor could've had far-reaching repercussions. Selvig and his scientist cronies are looking to open a wormhole, headquartered in the deserted old diner in the desert that appears in the movie. Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis are on the roof, trying to get in touch with the son of Odin by directing a beam of light straight up into the sky. In the version we got with the final cut, it's all about Thor looking down on Earth from Asgard with Odin. He then walks to the end of the shattered Rainbow Bridge to stand beside Heimdall. Heimdall simply tells him that she's searching for him, while we see Jane and the others in a lab, bustling about. There are two things going on. First, the final version minimizes the role of the human characters and makes for less of a direct connection between Jane and Thor. Second, and more significantly, in the deleted scene, Selvig tells the scientists that they are to coordinate data between S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. – the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. S.W.O.R.D. kinda combines counter-terrorism and extraterrestrial threats, and cutting this scene means we’ve yet to see the agency come up at all in the MCU. It would've opened up a whole new set of characters and potential storylines.
5 Quicksilver Survives (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
Quicksilver, or Pietro Maximoff, has had a long life in the Marvel comics world since he was created by legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in March 1964. He's been a regular part of the Avengers and has even had a couple of his own limited-edition series. In the MCU, he's had a short and eventful life. We hope it was eventful, anyway, what with being locked up and experimented on along with sister Wanda. Even as they began filming Age of Ultron, however, his ultimate fate wasn't set, as Joss Whedon tells the tale in an interview. The Age of Ultron director said that he actually filmed a scene that mentioned Quicksilver surviving the hail of bullets that we assume killed him. Whedon also shot an ending line-up of the new Avengers that included Pietro. Apparently, it was a dedication to the story that sealed his fate. Whedon explained, “It felt very disingenuous for me, 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.” So, Quicksilver served to remind everyone that war is hell. Thanks, Joss.
4 Pepper Potts Pregnant? (Captain America: Civil War)
One of the bits of dialogue that was cut from the final version of Captain America: Civil War was only a few second long but said so much. Tony Stark is talking to Steve Rogers, and he remarks casually that he "missed his Lamaze classes." Wait – what?? A little Tony or Pepper on the way? It sounds like that’s what filmmakers had in mind in the original version of the script. Somewhere along the way, obviously, decisions were made, and the idea of Tony’s progeny was put to rest. It would've introduced a completely new trajectory for the Iron Man storyline -- one that, it seems, won’t be picked up in the MCU. In fact, if the rumors are true, Tony Stark’s days in the MCU are already numbered, so a child – and let’s face it: a child in the MCU is someone asking to be kidnapped, put in danger, and pull Dad out of retirement – is probably best left out of the picture if Robert Downey, Jr. really does want to get out of Marvel movies.
3 Mitchell Carson And The Cross Particles (Ant-Man)
Toward the climactic end of Ant-Man, Scott, as Ant-Man, has defeated the evil Darren Cross and destroyed his laboratory, along with the computer files that presumably detail how he came up with his own version of Pym Particles. However, HYDRA operative Mitchell Carson has managed to retrieve some of the Cross Particles, and he escapes. As of now, that means they're lurking out there in the unfriendly world of HYDRA, waiting to backfire on our Avenger heroes at some point in the future. A couple of post-credits scenes would've changed all that. In one of the scenes filmed, Scott Lang takes after Mitchell Carson and retrieves the Cross Particles. That was swapped out for a scene that foreshadows Civil War. Another alternate post-credits scene would've seen Mitchell Carson make it out of Pym Technologies Headquarters, only to get sucked back into the building as it implodes. The particles? Fate unknown in that version of events. It sounds like all options were left open until the very end.
2 Triskelion Cleanup (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
When we last saw the Triskelion, it was basically left a smoldering pile of ruins after the battle that ended Captain America: Winter Soldier. There’s been no real mention of what’s been happening with it since then. A scene that was cut from Spider-Man: Homecoming would've at least provided an update. Peter joins his school mates ostensibly to bus their way to DC for the national academic decathlon tournament, but really, it's a bid to track Schultz, an associate of Adrian Toomes or The Vulture. As the bus from Midtown School of Science and Technology drives along, it passes a sign that says, “Triskelion Cleanup,” the site of which apparently lies ahead of them on the road. Toomes became the criminal known as Vulture, scavenging sites like New York City for the remains of Chitauri and other alien technology after the Tony Stark/federal government deal known as the Department of Damage Control or D.O.D.C. put him out of business. So, the idea of his men scouting the Triskelion, with its store of data and secret information, makes complete sense. More importantly, though, it brings the fate of the former S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and the organization itself into the present-day MCU. Instead, we’re still left with a range of unanswered questions.
1 The Loki Effect (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
This case was a scene that was shot and then removed because it had too much of an effect -- one that was the opposite of what filmmakers were looking for. In Age of Ultron, Loki's cameo was supposed to take place during Thor's second dream/hallucination sequence. It would've included an exchange between Thor and Loki, where Loki imitates Anthony Hopkins’s voice speaking as Odin. Both Joss Whedon and actor Tom Hiddleston explained that the scene was shot but then removed because fans in the first test audiences were getting Loki's role confused. Simply because he appeared, they assumed Loki had something to do with Ultron and the main plot of the movie. It was also, admittedly, a busy film already with a slew of major character lines to fill. The scene only came about because of the huge fan reaction to Loki in the first Avengers movie. The powers that be decided that Loki would get a cameo in Age of Ultron just to feed that budding fandom.
Sources: marvel.com; cracked.com