It's no secret that making a film is hard work, and one of the most difficult processes a director must go through is editing. Pouring over months of footage with a final screenplay as a guide, he or she must find a way to tell a comprehensive story that entertains and thrills audiences. Piecing together the final product is the final challenge before a movie is ready to hit theaters, and often times that means a scene or two the filmmaker really loved has to be left on the cutting room floor and never see the light of day.
Whether it's for pacing, run time, or superfluous nature, there's usually a good reason for why certain sequences are cut from a final film, and when we do see them in director's cuts or DVD extras it's hard to envision how they'd fit into the movie we know. Then there are others that seemingly would have added to the final product and arguably make the film in question even better than the one that went down in cinematic lore.
Throughout the first act of George Lucas' Star Wars, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is yearning to leave his home planet of Tattooine and join his friend Biggs (Garrick Hagon) at the Academy. As fortunes would have it, the two long lost buds are reunited as Rebel Alliance allies, flying out together to take down the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin. However, they don't have much time to reconnect, as Biggs is shot down and killed during one of the trench runs. It's a moment of intense sadness for Luke, but his pain doesn't really hit the audience as much, since we barely saw the two together (and only heard about their many exploits).
But Lucas had in fact dedicated more time to establishing their friendship, reinserting a deleted scene into the "special edition" of the film. The sequence in question takes place right before the Rebel pilots head out, with Luke getting the pleasant surprise of seeing his companion once again and promising to tell him the many stories of his adventure when he got a chance. It's a brief scene, but it was a nice touch and should have been part of the 1977 cut. It brings back memories we have of seeing old friends for the first time in years, and made Biggs' death a tad more emotional than it was originally presented. Lucas made a lot of maligned changes to his works, but this one made a lot of sense.
Return of the Jedi
The Empire Strikes Back features one of the most famous twists in movie history, when Darth Vader (David Prowse) reveals to Luke that he is the young Jedi's father (and didn't kill him as Luke was told). It's a revelation that rocks Luke's world, and he spends many of the following moments questioning why his mentor Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) refused to tell him the truth when he was just a farm boy on Tattooine. In Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan covers himself by saying that what he said was factual from "a certain point of view," but a deleted scene from the threequel indicates that Kenobi's reasoning wasn't as flimsy as the final film made it.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Boromir (Sean Bean) is portrayed as the bad egg of the group, as he becomes instantly corrupted by the One Ring and hungry for its immense power. As presented in the theatrical version, it's a not-too-subtle metaphor for the dangers of the quest and a parallel for Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) as he begins his journey. While it's true Boromir dies a noble hero sacrificing himself so his companions can escape, most of Bean's performance sees the character plotting to obtain the Ring and trying to attack Frodo (Elijah Wood), arguably making him a little one-dimensional. But a deleted scene (later inserted into the Two Towers extended edition) fleshes him out.
Combining the leads of four blockbuster franchises, Joss Whedon's The Avengers had a lot on its plate to unpack. His original cut of the film was three hours, and he was forced to trim 30 minutes off the film so it flowed better. For the most part, the director did an excellent job balancing out the substance and style, somehow finding enough time for quiet character moments and thrilling action scenes in the running time. However, there is one sequence most people (including Whedon himself) wish there was time for; one involving Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) getting acclimated to modern American society.