Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely reveal that Nova was initially slated to take on the role of the Hulk as the messenger in Avengers: Infinity War. Teaming up with directors Joe and Anthony Russo for the fourth time for Avengers: Endgame, Markus and McFeely have been in the MCU since Phase 1, starting their long-time gig by penning the story for Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011. Ever since, they've written every single outing for the super soldier, as well as the twin ensemble flick that culminated everything that's transpired in the universe since its inception in Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau's Iron Man.
The Russos, alongside Markus and McFeely, took some big creative swings for some of the beloved MCU characters in Infinity War and Endgame. They killed off the universe's poster boy and had a majority of the core Avengers move on from their superhero gigs; they also drastically changed Thor's physique in an effort to visually represent his depression over his failure to stop Thanos. But this string of character deconstructions began with Hulk in Infinity War. The green-rage monster was a no-show for the majority of the film after he was easily beaten by the Mad Titan, but his crash landing in Sanctum Sanctorum and Bruce Banner delivering the message that Thanos was coming kicked the events of Infinity War. But as it turns out, this particular bit was originally written for Nova.
With Endgame now out and the spoiler ban lifted, Markus and McFeely are more open to discussing the process that went into crafting Infinity War and its sequel. In their recent sit down with THR, the duo was asked about the extensive document that served as their manifesto while writing the story for the films. One idea that didn't make it to the big screen had Richard Rider crashing into Sanctum Sanctorum and delivering the news of Thanos' arrival.
What was on that 60-page document you crafted before writing Infinity War and Endgame? Things like "Captain America catches Thor's hammer"? Things bigger than that? Smaller?
Stephen McFeely: Big and small. House of M.
Christopher Markus: House of M. I remember going through several scenarios of Nova. Thanos could come and kill all the Nova Corps, except one guy. Richard Rider, who then becomes … I think in that scenario he became the herald, kind of like the Hulk was [in Infinity War when he crashed into the Sanctum Sanctorum]. Someone who could come out and tell people. We had everything. Literally every variation we could think of or that was sitting there in the comics untapped. With absolutely no value placed next to them.
In the comics, the messenger role was initially played by Silver Surfer, but due to the limitations brought about by the character rights complexities at that point, Marvel Studios had to be creative in translating the same scene onto the big screen for Infinity War. Swapping the characters didn't significantly change the narrative, although it's interesting to consider how it would've panned out with Rider. One of the key elements of Infinity War that was glossed over was the battle in Xandar for the Power Stone. Guardians of the Galaxy's final battle was to protect the stone, and yet its destruction and the battle between the Mad Titan and the Nova Corps was never shown.
That being said, it makes sense that the Russos and Markus and McFeely opted to skip Nova's introduction and give the moment to Bruce Banner. Avengers: Infinity War was already crowded with characters, and it's impressive that they were able got give each one their own bit while also devoting the majority of the runtime to establishing Thanos and his perspective in all this. Adding the burden of introducing a character that would live through the current predicament wouldn't have helped their cause.
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