When a plot twist is incorporated into a story, it can change everything. Whether it's structured as a climactic reveal or some sort of revelation after the plot is finished, these twists can make or break a narrative. There's nothing quite like finding out that the Planet of the Apes was really Earth the whole time, but when we saw the monkey-esque statue in the Tim Burton reboot, it was a ridiculous moment. Marvel has used plot twists in many of its films to help bolster their stories and offer something a bit more interesting to the table. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was built around a plot twist that had been festering for several years, and Avengers: Infinity War ended on a serious twist to the typical Marvel narrative. With some of their twists being so praised by fans, it makes sense the MCU would try to use a lot of them in its stories.
As you might expect, Marvel planned a lot of twists for its movies in the past. During pre-production and sometimes mid-production, certain details and revelations were talked about and put on paper (some were even shot). However, decisions had to be made, and many of these twists had to be cut. Looking back on those films, it's crazy to think that we were just one decision away from getting vastly different stories and moments. Marvel had to cut a lot of content before putting its movies on the big screen, so here are 20 cancelled Marvel twists that could've changed everything.
20 LOKI'S RETURN
Loki was both the antagonist in Thor and The Avengers. He appeared again in Thor: The Dark World, but didn't come back until that movie's sequel. However, he was set to have an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thor goes through an extended vision in that movie where he learns a bit about the Infinity Stones and the fall of Asgard.
A scene was planned to feature Loki referring to how he took over the throne and was disguised as Odin at the time. It would've been a more comedic scene placed more emphasis on the plot of Thor: Ragnarok, but it was ultimately was cut.
19 MAYA HANSEN AS THE VILLAIN
Iron Man 3 is a movie that is built around its plot twist that Ben Kingsley's the Mandarin is actually just an actor who is meant to hide the identity of Aldrich Killian as the real villain. However, this wasn't the original plan with the film.
Director Shane Black revealed that Maya Hansen, Tony Stark's old love interest who worked for Killian in the movie, was initially set to be the main antagonist. It was changed was because Marvel didn't feel that a toy designed around a female character would sell. The script was then changed, and Hansen's role in the film was reduced.
18 TOBEY MAGUIRE IN THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Spider-Man was a character people wanted in the MCU for a long time, but there was an attempt to get him in long before Captain America: Civil War or even the days of Andrew Garfield. Louis Leterrier, director of The Incredible Hulk, wanted to have a cameo that brought in Spider-Man.
Because Spider-Man 3 came out a year prior, he wanted to have a shot with Tobey Maguire in the film. However, not even a compromise worked when he went to Sony. He wanted to include Empire University, Peter Parker's famous college in the film, but that also fell through. Imagine an MCU where Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man was a part of it.
17 CAPTAIN MARVEL'S DEBUT
Captain Marvel will be the newest superhero entering the MCU, but she wasn't always planned to first appear in her own film. There were plans to introduce her at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron when all of the new Avengers line up, ready to get their first lesson from Captain America.
However, Kevin Feige felt that it would be better to give her a unique origin story rather than introduce a new character at the end of a team-up film. It was rumored that the way Scarlet Witch flies into view was the way they were going to have Captain Marvel enter the scene.
16 NIGHTMARE INSTEAD OF DORMAMMU
Doctor Strange brought the mystic side of the MCU to the big screen, including Dormammu from the Dark Dimension as the film's overarching antagonist. However, Dormammu wasn't always the original plan. Director Scott Derrickson wanted to initially include Nightmare as the film's villain, but Kevin Feige apparently made the case against it.
He said that communicating the idea of the Dream Dimension as a separate world in a movie already packed with exposition would've been a bit difficult to pull off. As such, Marvel eventually went with Dormammu for his prominence in the comics.
15 ARNIM ZOLA IN ANT-MAN
Arnim Zola was the HYDRA scientist in Captain America: The First Avenger who was preserved in a computer for a re-appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That wasn't originally scheduled to be his last appearance, though, as there was concept art released for Ant-Man that showed his new design.
He was supposed to be a part of the film's flashback sequence and be in the meeting with Howard Stark, Hank Pym, and Peggy Carter. He would've had a more comics-accurate design too, featuring a more robotic suit with a screen on his chest. There was a bit more cut HYDRA representation in the main plot too.
14 REAL MANDARIN IN IRON MAN 3
There was a time when Jon Favreau was supposed to be the director of Iron Man 3 to follow up on his work from the previous two films. Among his ideas for the movie was a plan to include the Mandarin, not the fake one used in the final cut, but the real one according to the comics.
Unfortunately, Jon Favreau eventually left the project, and Iron Man 3 went to Shane Black. During the planning process, the people working on the movie believed that fans weren't as attached to the Mandarin and felt it was okay to bend the character significantly from his comic version.
13 TONY VS HOWARD
There were a lot of different ideas going into Iron Man. There were plans to have the Mandarin as the film's villain, plans to cast Tom Cruise as Tony Stark, and a host of other things. However, one of the more interesting ideas that was floating around was that Howard Stark, Tony's father, would be the antagonist of the film.
Their conflict would come to a head, forcing the father and son to fight each other. Instead, the MCU went with a different approach. Despite their fractured relationship, it's easy to see that there was love and care between Howard and Tony.
12 CAPTAIN AMERICA'S OLDER CAMEO
From the very start of the MCU, there were plans to build toward a film like The Avengers. Because of this, small easter eggs and cameos were peppered through each movie, teasing the team-up that would surely come as a result. In The Incredible Hulk, there was a scene filmed where Bruce Banner tried to off himself due to his condition, but the Hulk took over and spit the bullet out.
This scene took place in the Arctic, where a shot of Captain America and his shield were both frozen in ice. It seems the plan was always to freeze the Captain in ice to eventually have him appear in present day.
11 HELA IN THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Hela was the antagonist of Thor: Ragnarok, revealed to be the secret firstborn child of Odin who had a knack for destruction. After Odin's demise, there was nothing preventing her return, and she promptly took over Asgard. While iconic in her part for that movie, there were plans to make her the antagonist of Thor: The Dark World.
For some mysterious pre-production reasons, that didn't work out, and Marvel eventually settled with Malekith the Accursed. If Hela were included in The Dark World, she likely wouldn't have had all the backstory she did in Ragnarok, making for a less exciting character.
10 BETA RAY BILL AS THOR'S ALLY
Thor: Ragnarok was a much bigger film thanks to its inclusion of the Hulk. The most iconic part of the movie was when Hulk crashes into the arena, revealing a nice twist with the narrative. However, that twist was originally planned to go to a different character, Beta Ray Bill.
Marvel didn't have a lot of plans for Ragnarok, but wanted to include Bill in some way. They tried a few different scenes, but didn't feel that they did justice to the character. Because of this, they decided to use him later and try to bring in the Hulk instead.
9 QUANTUM REALM CITY
Janet Van Dyne had been trapped inside the Quantum Realm for 30 years as of Ant-Man and the Wasp, which led Scott, Hope, and Hank to get her out in the movie. However, there were bigger plans for the Quantum Realm initially. Because Janet could survive all that time, Marvel played around with the idea of other people surviving as well, leading to the idea of a city in the Quantum Realm.
There was concept art for Janet that showed off this high-tech city, but the idea was ultimately scrapped to place more focus on Janet and her personal connection with Hank and Hope.
8 ADAM WARLOCK IN GUARDIANS 2
James Gunn brought an entire team of wacky characters to the MCU with Guardians of the Galaxy, and he was looking to do more of the same in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Being a fan of Adam Warlock, he had plans to make that character a big part of the story. During the writing process, though, he felt that Warlock made the film a bit bloated and knew that he had to be cut.
He couldn't replace Mantis either, as she was more "organically" integrated with the narrative. However, Warlock did keep his post-credit scene and is still planned to be a part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3.
7 PETER PARKER IN FRONT OF THE PRESS
The big moment for Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming is when he is brought to the Avengers building and offered a spot on the team by Tony Stark. He denies a place on the roster, though, desiring to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for the time being. However, the original plan was for him to actually get out in front of the press and make a statement similar to Tony revealing his identity in Iron Man.
Peter would've wrestled with the challenge of his identity more though and inevitably decided not to go through with it. Either way, the end result of his decision would've remained the same.
6 MADBOMB IN CIVIL WAR
The idea for Captain America: Civil War was always to have Captain America and Iron Man go head-to-head. However, the Russo Brothers had a plan B just in case they couldn't get Robert Downey Jr. to do the movie. Instead, there were plans to use the Madbomb from the comics to turn civilians and Cap's own allies into angry zombies of sorts.
He would have to struggle with fighting them off while not seriously injuring them. It's probably best that Downey did end up signing on for the film so we could get a much more personal and intense film.
5 GRANDMASTER ON THOR'S SHIP
The Grandmaster was easily the weirdest character in Thor: Ragnarok. Despite essentially losing all of his Champions, he still kept his cool to try and convince the people on Sakaar that he had everything under control. That wasn't the original plan for the character, though.
Taiki Waititi shot a different post-credit scene that would've had the Grandmaster and Topaz stow on the ship that Thor would later use to take the Asgardians to safety. It might've affected the opening act in Avengers: Infinity War a bit differently, which is probably why it was cut altogether. It might've raised a few more questions about that film.
4 WHIPLASH TAKES PEPPER
The final act of Iron Man 2 always felt a bit odd to some. After Tony and Rhodey team up to take on a horde of Vanko's deadly robots, they have to fight Vanko himself with a powerful suit of armor complete with some industrial-strength whips. Because there had already been an intense final battle, their fight with Vanko didn't last long.
There was an alternate ending shot that had Vanko, instead of fighting aggressively, stick around to capture Pepper. Tony had to fly back to save her and use some quick thinking with Rhodey to take him down. It was a bit anticlimactic, though.
3 STAR-LORD'S GRANDFATHER KNEW
Guardians of the Galaxy opens with Peter Quill losing his mother to cancer. Grieved, he runs outside only to be taken by the Ravagers and forever stuck among the stars. His grandfather was the only other family member we got to see in the movie, and he only appears at the beginning.
However, there was a scene planned that had Peter's grandfather in present day looking up at the stars, knowing that his grandson had been beamed up by aliens. The scene was ultimately removed because Marvel felt it was too depressing. There would've surely been a lot of tears in the audience.
2 THOR'S NEW PASSAGE TO EARTH
When Thor ended, the God of Thunder had to destroy the Bifrost to stop Loki's plan. In the process, though, he broke off his connection to Earth, preventing him from ever seeing Jane again. When he came back in The Avengers, many were confused as to how he managed it.
That said, there was a deleted scene for Thor that would've given some explanation to this. It followed Jane, Erik, and Darcy as they built a machine that fired a beam into the sky to help guide Thor back to Earth. It would've been a nice gesture to see how Jane was dealing with her lover's absence.
1 ODIN DOESN'T HELP FRIGGA
Odin has always been a morally conflicted character, but this alternate scene would've turned him just two steps shy of being a villain. In Thor: The Dark World, Frigga protects Jane by only projecting her image so that Malekith would be chasing the wind.
While she is held by the Dark Elf, moments away from demise, Odin walks in ready to fight. Frigga asks him to take out the Dark Elves, but he just lowers his staff, believing that it was the only way to protect the Aether. She loses her life, and Odin did nothing to stop it. It would've been a crazy twist.