It’s impossible to overstate just how important the editing process is when producing a feature film. Indeed, it’s not until the director and editor start whittling down the hours of footage captured during principal photography that the actual film itself starts to take shape.
Obviously, this includes a lot of tough decision-making along the way, as a lot of this material needs to be cut, in order to fashion a coherent, engaging flick that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Where things get really interesting is examining what scenes were deleted from famous movies – particularly because many of these moments would have dramatically altered the finished product. In some cases, these are seemingly minor moments that significantly alter our perception of a film’s narrative, characters or themes – although sometimes entire subplots are excised, too!
When reviewing this unused footage, it’s common to find yourself wondering why some scenes were omitted, as well thanking your lucky stars that others never made it onto the big screen. Because film is a subjective medium, it’s easy to argue that occasionally the guys and gals in the editing suite got it wrong by adding in (or trimming out) the wrong material.
Fortunately, the reverse is also true, and perusing deleted scenes can serve to re-affirm that the director and editor did have a good handle on things, and relegated the right scenes to the trash can.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up this list of 11 Deleted Scenes That Would Have Saved Movies (And 9 That Would Hurt Them).
20 Hurt – Captain America And The Waitress (The Avengers)
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this scene, which sees Captain America reflecting on his past before interacting with a waitress in the present day. That’s probably why The Avengers director Joss Whedon is on the record as wishing he could have found a way to keep it in.
All the same, we have to say that Whedon made the right call here. Yes, this moment does add to Cap’s character development, and is an admirably art house flourish for a superhero blockbuster. However, the scene would also have slowed down the beginning of the film when it should really be gaining momentum – which is why it ultimately deserved the chop.
19 Saved – A Glimpse At Wolverine's Classic Costume (The Wolverine)
Critical consensus is that James Mangold’s The Wolverine is around two-thirds of a great movie, before its contemplative, moody vibe gives way to CGI-heavy, over-the-top popcorn fare during the finale. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with good ol’ fashioned superheroic action – it’s just that in this case, it jars tonally with everything that came before it.
If The Wolverine crunching gears like this is a little frustrating, what’s worse is that Mangold could have made up for this by including a brief scene during the film’s epilogue.
Here, we catch a fleeting glimpse of a comics-accurate version of our hero’s classic costume, which somehow helps bridge the movie’s serious and blockbuster elements.
18 Hurt – Meet Sgt. Candy (Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines)
The Terminator franchise has always had a sense of humor, but Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines arguably takes things too far. Whether it’s the sight of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in star-framed sunglasses or insisting that clueless cashiers “talk to the hand,” the gags here are less slyly clever and more cringe-inducing.
Luckily, the worst of these “funny” scenes didn’t make it into the finished film.
In it, we’re introduced to the human template for the T-800, Sgt. Candy, and also learn why this model of Terminator comes with a thick, Austrian accent. It’s all played for laughs – and it is admittedly kind ofamusing – but it’s ultimately too silly, even for T3.
17 Saved – Lupin And Tonks Are Reunited (The Deathly Hallows – Part 2)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 largely delivers as a rousing finale to the boy wizard’s big screen adventures, it’s not exactly perfect.
One of the few major flaws is that the demise of several beloved supporting characters never really registers on the same emotional level as in JK Rowling’s original novels.
Director David Yates could have rectified this by including short scenes like the reunion between Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. Set just before the Battle of Hogwarts gets into full swing, it’s a tender moment that helps underscore the impending tragedy of both husband and wife losing their lives during the ensuing conflict.
16 Hurt – Peter and Drax bicker (Avengers: Infinity War)
Avengers: Infinity War rack up over $2 billion at the box office, but it also earned overwhelmingly positive reviews. The film hardly needs saving, but this comedic scene – which revolves around Star-Lord, Drax and Mantis unnecessarily squabbling while Gamora has been captured by her abuser and ultimate tyrant, Thanos -- definitely wouldn't have helped it.
While the signature Guardians of the Galaxy dialogue is hilarious, it's hardly the time for the childish Drax and Peter to waste time bickering. Given how many fans already blame Star-Lord for the Avengers' failure in the film, this would have only made things worse for him.
15 Saved – Ratha's Final Fate (The Amazing Spider-Man)
As both Amazing Spider-Man films prove, director Marc Webb seemed to be far more fascinated with the mystery surrounding Peter Parker’s absent parents than audience members were. If there’s anything worse than this unnecessary focus on Spidey’s folks, it’s just how poorly developed the sub-plot is in the theatrical cut of the first movie.
In fairness to Webb, though, the director did originally have plans to properly flesh out this narrative thread. As this deleted scene reveals, Webb – via unscrupulous Oscorp employee Rajit Ratha – was going to explicitly lay out the questions Peter (and the audience) should be asking. We also witness Ratha’s demise, which is more satisfying than his unexplained disappearance in the finished film.
14 Hurt – Scar Banishes Nala (The Lion King)
When Nala coincidentally encounters the adult Simba in The Lion King, we accept this happened because she was looking farther afield for food, thanks to the famine caused by Scar’s incompetent rule. We don’t really need any further explanation for how she ended up in the jungle – although directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff originally thought we did.
They planned to include an uber-creepy scene where Scar tries to coerce Nala into being his queen.
When she refuses, he banishes her from the Pride Lands, leaving her with little choice but to set up shop in the jungle. This is just way too creepy.
13 Saved – Extended Africa Sequence (Batman V Superman)
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered a withering response from critics – and one of the main criticisms levelled at the movie is that Lex Luthor’s villainous plot is nigh-incomprehensible.
However, those who have seen the so-called “Ultimate Edition” home media release will know that director Zack Snyder filmed an extended version of the goings-on in Africa which partially addressed these complaints.
These expanded scenes provide greater clarity around the early stages of Luthor’s scheme and what its direct consequences are for Superman.
What’s more, they also make the overall narrative of the film less murky by more clearly defining several other plot points, as well – suggesting Snyder shouldn’t have shortened this sequence.
12 Hurt – The Fate Of Shaak Ti (Revenge Of The Sith)
On the one hand, you could argue that this deleted scene from Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith deserved to make it into the final cut. After all, watching the newly-christened Darth Vader brutally dispatch Shaak Ti – by stabbing her in the back, no less – sure does cement his status as a ruthless Dark Side acolyte.
We already witness Vader eliminate a lot of people in cold-blooded fashion during the film’s second half.
Adding one more corpse to the pile seems unnecessary. And to be blunt, actress Orli Shoshan’s performance isn’t exactly stellar, so overall, we’re glad director George Lucas trimmed this sequence out.
11 Saved – Finn Shows Off His Sewing Skills (The Last Jedi)
Depending on who you ask, Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is either perfect just the way it is or a total page one rewrite. Either way, Rian Johnson made a mistake by cutting this scene, where Finn and Poe encounter each other before setting off on their various missions.
It addresses a minor continuity hiccup, explaining that Finn patched-up the slash along the back of his jacket from The Force Awakens.
More importantly, it gives us another moment of intereaction between two characters who bonded in The Force Awakens but get even less screen time together here.
10 Hurt – Pennywise Puts Baby On The Menu (It: Chapter One)
This deleted flashback scene from It: Chapter One, where Pennywise demands a youngling to feast on would have taken things way too far. Watching a proto-version of the demonic shapeshifter convince a helpless woman to hand her offspring over to him in exchange for the lives of her other children would be undeniably horrifying.
This disturbing moment would have been too much for some viewers to handle, and could’ve put a dent in the film’s record-breaking box office haul.
There are rumors that director Andy Muschietti might incorporate the flashback into next year’s It: Chapter Two – so maybe we’ll find out whether or not audiences can hack it then!
9 Saved – Faramir Remembers Boromir (The Two Towers)
For more hardcore fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels, the characterization of Faramir ruined the big screen adaptation of middle installment The Two Towers. Unlike the unswervingly good-natured and noble figure of the books, the Faramir of Peter Jackson’s film is cast in a far less flattering light.
That’s why many critics believe that Jackson shouldn’t have omitted a scene included in the Extended Edition home media release of the film, where Faramir reminisces about his brother, Boromir.
Not only does this flashback highlight the warm relationship between the pair (further redeeming Boromir, as well), it introduces Faramir’s strained relationship with their unpleasant father, better explaining his less-than-heroic motivations.
8 Hurt – Mirinda Thanks Andy (The Devil Wears Prada)
The Devil Wears Prada revolves around the dynamic between personal assistant Andy and her demanding boss, Miranda. What’s more, the emotional pay-off derived from the otherwise icy Miranda dropping her guard towards the end of the film – first to discuss her failed marriage, and later via an impressed smile – relies heavily on this dynamic remaining in place until then.
We’re glad director David Frankel opted to remove a scene slated to appear mid-way through the movie which saw an openly grateful Miranda thank Andy for saving her from personal and professional embarrassment.
Not only would this have been wildly out of character on Miranda’s part, but it would have massively undermined this flick’s finale.
7 Saved – David Levinson Visits Area 51 (Independence Day)
It’s fair to say that audiences didn’t flock to see Independence Day back in 1996 for its realistic depiction of a global alien invasion scenario. On the contrary – ID4 became the highest-grossing film of the year off the back of large-scale pyrotechnics and Will Smith’s charm, rather than scientific accuracy and rock-solid plot logic.
Even fans of the movie have poked fun at its most glaring plot hole: how could David Levinson whip up a virus capable of crippling the aliens’ computer systems?
Funnily enough, director Roland Emmerich answered this question a deleted scene. In it, we more clearly see Levinson reverse engineer the virus from extra-terrestrial technology stored at Area 51.
6 Hurt – The Theatre Shootout (Gangster Squad)
Over the years, the fictional events depicted in movies have coincidentally mirrored those of actual tragedies. When this occurs and the film in question has yet to be released, studios will almost always try to replace the offending scene with something new.
Such was the case with Gangster Squad, which – as the first trailer clearly showed – was set to include a heated gunfight in a cinema.
Many felt it too closely evoked the 2012 Aurora shooting for comfort.
As a result, director Ruben Fleischer oversaw filming of a revised set piece taking place in Chinatown instead, erasing this unpleasant real-world connection.
5 Saved – The Trial Of Dante Jackson (Daredevil)
As anyone who’s seen the director’s cut of Daredevil already knows, a lot of material wound up on the cutting room floor that should have made it into the theatrical release. Easily the most substantial of these scenes are those which, taken together, constitute the Dante Jackson’s trial sub-plot.
Besides boasting a surprisingly solid, amusing performance by rapper Coolio as Jackson, this narrative thread lends the wider plot greater cohesion. Better still, it also more clearly sets up how Matt Murdock – both in the court room and as Daredevil – and fellow lawyer Foggy Nelson bring the Kingpin and his criminal empire to justice.
4 Hurt – Nick’s Tame Collar (Zootopia)
Disney’s Zootopia does a masterful job of wrapping a colorful animated adventure for children around a decidedly grown-up parable about tolerance and looking beyond stereotypes. Intriguingly, though, directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore almost got this balance very, very wrong.
Howard and Moore (along with their team of writers) initially intended for Zootopia’s carnivorous animals – include plucky fox Nick – to wear “tame collars”. These were designed to inhibit the animal’s predatory instincts, with the twist being that they were actually an unnecessary, fascistic measure imposed by their herbivore neighbors.
If you think that sounds way too dark for family cartoon, you’re not alone.
It’s why the concept was abandoned before the flick hit theatres.
3 Saved – Ripley Is Devastated By The Loss Of Her Daughter (Aliens)
Ever watched Aliens and thought, “Wow, Ellen Ripley gets over the loss of her daughter insanely fast?” Seriously: she basically just shrugs and moves on with her life – which is pretty cold, even for a hardened survivor like her.
Interestingly, this wasn’t always director James Cameron’s plan, and he actually filmed an extended version of this scene where Ripley reacts somewhat more appropriately to this sad news.
Aliens is already a classic, but this action/horror/sci-fi hybrid would have been enhanced by the inclusion of this scene. More than just humanizing Ripley, it better sets up the emotional undercurrent of her decision to adopt Newt as her surrogate daughter later on.
2 Hurt – Marty McFly: Bigot (Back To The Future)
Is there a more fun-filled sci-fi outing than Back to the Future? Director Robert Zemeckis hit it out of the park with this time travel adventure, and a lot of what makes it work is the likeability of Michael J. Fox’s teen hero Marty McFly.
As this deleted scene shows, Marty was nearly far less likeable – mostly because he paints himself as a homophobe!
This comes to light when he and Doc Brown discuss the potential effects of messing about with time, and our guy worries that doing so could turn him gay. It’s an awkward moment, to say the least, and one we’re glad was excised from the finished film.
1 Saved – Bill Vs. Da Moe’s Apprentice (Kill Bill: Volume 2)
In fairness, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is already a great movie, thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s signature blend of cracking dialogue, compelling characters and homages to classic cinema. At the same time, it’s also comparatively light on action compared to Volume 1 – something that not all viewers appreciated.
Whether or not these fans are right, the fight scene between Bill and the vengeance-seeking pupil of one of his victims certainly would have kept them happy.
Here, Bill takes down several assailants without breaking a sweat, before engaging their leader in a tense martial arts contest.
Alternating between swordplay and hand-to-hand combat, the fight also establishes Bill’s lethal prowess ahead of his showdown with heroine, The Bride.
What are some other deleted scenes that would have saved (or hurt) movies? Let us know in the comments!