The on-screen world of The Avengers is almost certainly going to expand dramatically when the team reunites in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, but those who followed the development of the first movie closely are probably aware that the team was originally supposed to be slightly bigger than it was. Joss Whedon's early drafts of the script included Janet von Dyne AKA Wasp, one of the original founding members in the comics, and for a long time it was rumored that Eva Longoria would take the role.
For better or worse, Whedon eventually cut Wasp out of the film altogether, on the grounds that the script had simply become "too Wasp-y." Making The Avengers meant facing with the task of bringing together heroes from four existing franchises and introducing a new handful of important characters, so perhaps trying to fit Wasp in as well would have made the focus of the movie too dissipated across all the different team members.
For those who really would love a glimpse of what the battle of New York might have looked like if Wasp were present, storyboard artist Federico D’Alessandro is on hand to oblige. D'Alessandro has helped to develop the visuals for a number of Marvel Studios' films, and has now released four of the original animatics sequences that were created for The Avengers. The last one, which depicts the final battle of The Avengers, includes glimpses of Wasp on the team at the 0:17 and 2:27 marks, first in the air with her trademark wings and then on the ground as the camera circles our heroes.
The animatics sequence really is a fascinating look at the plot elements which didn't make it to the final version of The Avengers (Loki being betrayed by Thanos, for example) and the moments which were clearly planned out in great detail from the very start (Bruce Banner's reveal of his 'secret'). Also note that Hawkeye was originally drawn wearing his classic costume from the comic books, complete with mask, but that this was eventually toned down into something a little more.... utilitarian.
D’Alessandro has also released three more animatics sequences, some of which have elements that survived the various drafts and made it into the final cut of the film, and others which were dropped altogether. Apparently Iron Man's introduction was originally going to be a lot more dramatic, with a full battle sequence against another mech. Tony is the main subject of most of these sequences, though it's unclear whether that means that The Avengers was originally going to be a lot more Iron Man-y, or whether D'Alessandro just decided to upload Iron Man-centric sequences.
The second video is particularly interesting for those who are theorizing that Ultron in The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be one of Tony Stark's creations, and might even be Tony's faithful AI butler J.A.R.V.I.S. In dialogue that was cut from the final film, it appears for a moment that JARVIS is trying to convince Tony to turn against the Avengers, who are dragging him down from greatness. Of course, Loki soon shows up and reveals that it was actually him whispering in Tony's ear all along, but it's an intriguing hint at what an evil J.A.R.V.I.S. might be like.
As for Wasp, right now it seems most likely that she will be introduced in Edgar Wright's upcoming Ant-Man movie, since the two characterss powers both come from Pym Particles and they also have a romantic relationship. This means that both Wasp and Ant-Man could eventually join the Avengers, though that won't come until at least The Avengers 3 (and they may well end up replacing fallen members).
It's clear that The Avengers underwent a great deal of evolution between these animatics and the finished film. Do you think that Whedon was wise to trim the movie down in the way that he did, or would you have loved to see all of these action sequences full fleshed-out?
Thor: The Dark World arrives in theaters on November 8th, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4th, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1st, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1st, 2015, Ant-Man on November 6th, 2015, and as-yet unannounced films will be released on May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Source: Federico D’Alessandro (via CBM)