The MCU's continued existence feels like a miracle. How can a franchise run for more than a decade, releasing an average of more than two films a year, and still maintain such a high standard of quality? It's not the first long-running series with more than twenty movies - James Bond is gearing up for his twenty-fifth outing and Godzilla is still rampaging into theaters every few years- but it is only one to have a coherent continuity.
It all started in 2008 with Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the selfish billionaire turned superhero Tony Stark. The film was a huge gamble for Marvel at the time, and would have spelled doom for the company if it had failed. Since then, the MCU has had twenty-two additional theatrical releases under its belt, the most recent being Spider-Man: Far From Home. As long as people keep coming to theaters, Marvel Studios will keep making movies.
All the movies flow into one another, meaning events from each influence the whole MCU. With this in mind, the next ten entries will take a look at things that almost happened during its last eleven years that would have changed everything, from plot points to the people who brought the stories to life.
10 Ant-Man Was Supposed To Come Out Way Earlier
Ant-Man was a refreshing respite from cluttered set pieces and world ending schemes. Scott Lang's smaller scale conflicts and lower stakes make his adventures a more fun, wholesome ride. It was finally great to see him join to whole team in Avengers: Endgame too.
Lang was originally meant to become a part of the MCU earlier, with a film written and directed by Edgar Wright, famous for Shaun of the Dead and Baby Driver. Wright's version of the movie in the planning stages since 2006, but the filmmaker left in 2014. Had Wright made the film in the early days of the MCU, Lang would have probably been in The Avengers film and become a significant part in the group's founding like in the comics.
9 Jon Favreau Directing The Avengers
Jon Favreau directed the first two Iron Man films and was integral to franchise's success behind the scenes. He is also recognizable on screen as Stark's lovable bodyguard, Happy Hogan. He hasn't directed a superhero movie since Iron Man 2, and opted not to go The Avengers.
Had he done so, the movie would have focused more on Iron Man instead of the well-balanced ensemble. Theories circulate that he hasn't sat in the director's chair again in the MCU because of the lukewarm reception and lack of creative control for Iron Man 2.
8 Abomination In Age Of Ultron
The Incredible Hulk feels so separate from the MCU because of the different actor in the lead role. However, William Hurt still shows up in MCU films, including Endgame.
There was also a time when Abomination would have shown up Avengers: Age of Ultron. That movie is already chock full of villains compared to its peers, so it makes sense why they didn't add one more.
7 Obadiah Stan Surviving Iron Man
Iron Man's original script had the villain living through his defeat. This change happened later into production, as Jeff Bridges didn't find out about the character's ultimate fate until the scene was filmed.
Imagine Obadiah teaming up with Loki or Ivan Vanko instead of biting the bullet after just one outing. It would have helped to build up the MCU's roster of villains early on, leading to a much wider scope in terms of world building.
6 Captain Marvel In Age Of Ultron
Captain Marvel is one of the most powerful heroes among the roster. Joss Whedon considered putting her in Age of Ultron, and even shot some test footage for the character, but ultimately left her out of a movie that was already crowded with new faces.
5 Nova In Guardians Of The Galaxy
Nova is popular among comic book fans, but virtually unknown to everyone else. That could have changed in 2014 when the character was slated to appear in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The plan went unrealized, but the inclusion of the Nova Corps means that the door is always open for the hero's introduction in the future.
4 Captain America In The Incredible Hulk
Captain America didn't show up until his 2011 film, but several hints to his existence exist in the preceding movies. One major clue to his whereabouts was filmed in The Incredible Hulk, but cut out of the final product.
The scene involved Bruce going to the arctic to end his life, but failing. In one shot Cap's frozen body is visible for just a moment.
3 The Mandarin In Iron Man
People were split over The Mandarin's depiction in Iron Man 3, but it was a fine modern interpretation of the character, acknowledging the fears of foreign conflicts that birthed the character in the first place.
The villain was to appear in the first Iron Man, and Obadiah was a secondary antagonist.
2 Edward Norton In The Avengers
Edward Norton adores the green monster and had tons of creative control over The Incredible Hulk. This is probably why he was recast for The Avengers.
Had he stayed on board, his absurd demands and requests for the script would have sparked conflict and the film would have resembled something more like The Incredible Hulk: Avengers.
1 Joss Whedon Direction Infinity War And Endgame
Joss Whedon did the impossible and tied five films and four superheroes together for an awesome team up. The experience left him thoroughly exhausted, but he managed to do it once more with Age of Ultron.
He simply couldn't bring himself to do it for a third time, however, and passed the baton to Joe and Anthony Russo. Had he stuck around, though, the culmination of ten years worth of films would have been an entirely different beast.