It can be hard work for studios to keep major twists a secret before big releases come out. Fans will comb over every photo, trailer or press release with almost forensic detail trying to glean any hidden details, and they’re becoming increasingly accurate with guessing major spoilers.
Of course, putting together a blockbuster isn’t an exact science, with any given film going through countless drafts and reshoots before reaching audiences. This often leads to a wealth of deleted scenes or excised subplots, and sometimes even the shape of the story itself can change drastically. Characters that originally died can be brought back to life or major cliffhangers are deleted from the final cut.
A number of high profile comic book movies have gone through this process, leading to surprising revelations ending up on the cutting room floor. It often comes down to executives overthinking the film or second-guessing audience expectations, and they’re willing to go through the added expense of filming alternate footage just to be safe. In a couple of cases, the deleted option was probably the stronger choice.
Here are 15 Shocking Twists Cut From Comic Book Movies That Would Have Changed Everything.
15 Coulson Is HYDRA - Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Fans were so heartbroken when Agent Coulson was killed in The Avengers that Marvel quickly retconned it, bringing him back to life for TV series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. It turns out Coulson fans may have been even more heartbroken had Marvel followed through on their initial plans for the character.
While developing the Captain America sequel, a very early notion was that Coulson would be revealed as a secret HYDRA agent. While the reveal that HYDRA had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D was already a major twist, it would have been doubly shocking to learn the wholesome Coulson was a villain the entire time.
This changed when Joss Whedon decided to kill the character in The Avengers, so Coulson’s proposed turncoat role went to Agent Sitwell in The Winter Soldier instead.
14 Peter's Father Is Still Alive - The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Sony was betting big on The Amazing Spider-Man, planning years worth of sequels and spin-offs based on the rebooted series. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 planted various seeds for future movies, including teases for The Sinister Six and introducing Felicity Hardy (aka Black Cat).
The eventual movie was a little overstuffed with subplots, so the studio cut out scenes involving Mary Jane (played by Shailene Woodley) and the resolution of the Richard Parker story. When Peter is mourning at Gwen’s grave at the end of the movie, his long-missing father Richard was supposed to turn up to comfort him.
This leads to an emotional heart to heart between them, which gives Peter the strength to continue as Spider-Man. Richard also would have given Peter the iconic “With great power...” speech, but Sony removed the scene from the final cut.
13 The Joker Tries To Kill Harley - Suicide Squad
While the relationship between The Joker and Harley Quinn comes across as surprisingly loving in the theatrical cut of Suicide Squad, it was way darker in earlier versions. In the first cut, The Joker was physically and emotionally abusive to Harley, and while he spends most of the movie trying to save her, Harley's rescue originally took a dark turn.
After Joker rescues her in his helicopter, the original cut featured the two getting into a heated argument, which ended with him pushing Harley out of the back; the copter was then shot down. The scene was re-edited to make it look like he pushes her out because they’re about to be shot down, and he’s trying to save her.
The whole relationship was reframed to appear more gentle, instead of the twisted angle of the original script.
12 Pepper Is Pregnant - Captain America: Civil War
Tony Stark seemingly quit being Iron Man at the end of the third movie, having destroyed his suits and undergone an operation to remove the shrapnel from his heart. Despite this, he remains Iron Man when Age Of Ultron begins, but no mention is made of how Pepper Potts feels about this, since he promised to stop.
Civil War seemed to imply the two have all but split up, but the original draft would have hinted at a completely different angle. When Steve Rogers asks him where Pepper is during the first act, Tony was originally going to reply that he “Missed his Lamaze classes,” suggesting Pepper is pregnant, and his double life as Iron Man was pulling him away from her.
Marvel clearly didn’t want to be locked into this potential plot, so the line was removed.
11 Robin Origin Sequence - Batman
Robin was famously almost featured in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, where he would have been played by Marlon Wayans. The director decided the film had too many characters and subplots already, so he was cut.
Robin also featured in an elaborate setpiece written for the original, where Batman chases Joker around Gotham following the attack in Vicki Vale’s apartment. The pursuit ends in a circus where The Flying Graysons are performing, and during his escape The Joker would have set off a bomb that causes the deaths of Dick Grayson’s parents. The future Robin briefly gives chase to the villain and is comforted by Batman when he gets away.
Kiefer Sutherland, Matt Damon, and future Batman Ben Affleck all auditioned for the role before the character was deemed unnecessary and cut from the script.
10 Quicksilver Lives And Joins The Avengers - Age Of Ultron
One of the most common complaints surrounding superhero movies is that audiences know the heroes are never in genuine mortal danger, which removes some of the threat from action scenes. Joss Whedon realized this and wanted to subvert expectations with Age Of Ultron.
He introduced two new heroes – Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – but he planned from the beginning to kill one of them off. Whedon conceived of his Avengers sequel as a war movie, so he felt the violence needed consequences.
To this end, he killed Quicksilver in the finale, but for safety reasons, he had to shoot an alternate version when he survived thanks to his quick healing. In this version, he also would have featured in the closing Avengers line-up in case Marvel wanted to use him; they ultimately let Whedon have his way.
9 Rogue Doesn't Take The Cure - X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men: The Last Stand made some controversial choices, from killing major characters like Cyclops and Professors X to revealing Rogue took the mutant cure so she could live a normal life. The studio shot an alternate version of this scene, just in case there was a backlash against it.
The alternate scene plays out the opposite way, where Rogue reveals to boyfriend Bobby that while she was seriously tempted, she couldn’t bring herself to take the cure. Rogue taking the cure at all felt like a surprise twist just for the sake of one, while the braver choice – where she refuses to accept it – feels like the right move for her character.
The extended version of Days Of Future Past – dubbed The Rogue Cut – ultimately revealed she got her powers back anyway.
8 Blade Turns Evil - Blade: Trinity
The third Blade was supposed to be a post-apocalyptic adventure, where Blade would lead the last of humanity against a world dominated by vampires. New Line decided this was too expensive, so they offered writer David Goyer the chance to direct if he made something cheaper. Series star Wesley Snipes was furious about this, and famously made Goyer’s life hell during filming.
This resulted in Blade: Trinity becoming an almighty mess, where Blade teams up with The Nightstalkers to hunt Dracula. The current ending has Blade riding into the night after slaying the beast, but an alternate version suggested something much darker.
After killing Dracula, Blade’s lifeless body is brought to a morgue, where he suddenly wakes up and starts beating up the staff, before seemingly biting an orderly. The suggestion is he’s finally given into his inner vampire and would be evil in the next movie.
7 Odin Lets Frigga Die - Thor: The Dark World
Thor: The Dark World is a long way from Marvel’s best movie, and adds little of value to the universe. At the very least it helps humanize Loki a little following his fairly monstrous acts in The Avengers. His relationship with adoptive mother Frigga plays a big role in this, and her loss is felt when she’s murdered later in the story.
Frigga’s death was originally a good deal darker, with Odin arriving during Malekith’s attack on her and Jane. Odin refuses to hand over the Aether in exchange for his wife’s life, and despite Frigga begging him to kill the elves, he doesn’t take action and she’s killed in retaliation.
Odin had already committed questionable acts in the past, but Marvel felt this moment made him look too unsympathetic.
6 Storm/Wolverine Are An Item - X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Despite hints of romantic tension between Storm and Wolverine throughout the series, the latter's involvement with Jean Gray seemingly ruled out either one acting on it. Despite being a key player in the original X-Men trilogy, Days Of Future Past didn’t give Storm much to do, but one major deleted scene reveals a lot happened between her and Logan after the trilogy.
There was originally a briefing scene where the effects of time travel were explained to Logan, and how the future will change if he succeeded. When it ends, he has a quiet talk with Storm, revealing the two of them have hooked up in the bleak, Sentinel-controlled future.
They say goodbye and then kiss passionately. Unfortunately, this nice character moment was snipped from the final version, which was already running long.
5 Max Shreck Is The Penguin's Brother - Batman Returns
There’s a long-standing rumor that Christopher Walken’s corrupt businessman Max Shreck was originally scripted to be Harvey Dent, and his electrocution by Catwoman in the finale would have lead to him becoming Two-Face in the next movie. This was never the case, though; a cameo for Dent was featured in early drafts, but Shreck was always a separate character.
In fact, the original draft for Batman Returns would have featured a shock connection between him and The Penguin. The Penguin would have learned in the finale that Shreck is, in fact, his older brother, who was so ashamed of his parents for throwing his baby brother into the sewers that he disowned them and took on a new name.
This twist was removed from the script in order to keep the story simple.
4 Frank Castle's Partner Betrayed Him - The Punisher
While Thomas Jane made for a solid Frank Castle/Punisher, the film surrounding him left something to be desired. It had some good action scenes but also suffered from jarring tonal shifts and some forced comic relief.
The Punisher originally featured a crucial subplot where Castle investigates who betrayed him to the mobsters that murdered his family, and learns it was his former partner Jimmy Weeks. Weeks did it to pay off some gambling debts, and when Castle discover this he gives his old friend a choice; he either kills himself, or Castle will do it for him.
The guilt-racked Weeks takes option one. While this twist added a welcome emotional core to the film, it ultimately slowed the story, so it had to come out.
3 Roque Survives - The Losers
The Losers was a fun, A-Team style adventure featuring Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans and Idris Elba. The film is based on the graphic novel of the same name and follows a team of government agents going rogue after they're betrayed.
The film pulls a genuinely surprising twist in the final act when it’s revealed Elba’s Roque has betrayed The Losers to the main villain. This leads to a showdown between Roque and team leader Clay, which ends when Roque is killed in an explosion.
A deleted cliffhanger revealed Roque survived the blast – with some nasty scars to boot – and is seeking payback against his former team. This stinger would have set up a sequel with Roque as main villain, but since the film underperformed, there was no real chance of a sequel happening anyway.
2 Ashe Is Cursed To Live Forever - The Crow: City Of Angels
The Crow: City Of Angels was intended to be completely different from the original, but in post-production, the studio felt it was too arty, and recut it to resemble the first film. This resulted in crucial plot scenes being removed, and hastily reshot action sequences being inserted instead.
The film’s original bleak ending also hit the cutting room floor. The story follows Ashe, who returns from the grave to avenge his son’s death, but after completing his mission he’s forced to make a choice; return to the grave and be reunited with his child in the afterlife, or stay and save his girlfriend Sarah.
He chooses the latter but Sarah dies anyway, and in the original ending Ashe is cursed to walk the earth forever due to his interference in mortal affairs. The studio felt this was too grim, so they tacked on a happy ending instead.
1 Norman Osborn's Frozen Head - The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Despite being a major character in Spider-Man lore, Norman Osborn doesn’t last long in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise. He appears in one scene with his son Harry and then dies offscreen. It turns out the franchise had major plans for the character, and he would have been resurrected as a major villain in The Amazing Spider-Man 3.
This would have been set up in the original ending, where it’s revealed Norman Osborn's frozen head is being stored in OsCorp. While this scene was shot, it was ultimately edited out. The third movie supposedly featured Peter discovering a formula that could resurrect the dead, and he would have used it to bring Gwen and Captain Stacy back to life. The same formula would have also brought Norman back.
Maybe Sony felt the visual of Norman’s head wasn’t a strong enough cliffhanger, so they took it out.
Do you think these twists would have improved or ruined their movies? Share your thoughts in the comments!