Avengers writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely detail a “psychedelic” and “grim” scene cut from Infinity War that would have shown Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) place Thanos (Josh Brolin) for judgement by cosmic entity the Living Tribunal.
“It was partly inspired by [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige — who, as you might know, has something to do with these movies — he came into the conference room in Atlanta where we were trapped for years and he had brought a bunch of comics panels with him,” Markus explained at San Diego Comic-Con.
“Because we were pretty far down the road on very concrete things, as you do when you write a script, building the structure, and he wanted to make sure we didn’t lose the sort of psychedelic aspect of the ‘Starlin-verse,’ where people travel inside their eyeballs and things like that. And so we stuck the Living Tribunal in the movie.”
A towering humanoid figure who acts as the keeper of the balance of the multiverse, the Living Tribunal would have been revealed during Strange and Thanos’ battle on the Mad Titan’s decayed homeworld.
“So as Thanos and Doctor Strange came to blows, Doctor Strange blew Thanos’ mind and sent him through the mindscape,” Markus said.
The scene, McFeely added, would have been similar to Strange’s trippy encounter with the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) in the sorcerer’s solo movie.
“So the idea was that [Thanos is] sort of zipping through the universe being presented with all of his many, many crimes. So bodies are being thrown at him, he lands and things turn into bodies, hands are grasping at him, and it’s just really kind of grim,” McFeely said.
“And at the end he gets dumped in front of the Living Tribunal who judges him guilty. It was great, it was really... when you introduce the idea of the Living Tribunal, it does open up a whole new era. I don’t know if my grandmother would understand that.”
“Also, if that guy exists,” Markus noted, “why is Thanos a problem? Just have him smack him around a little bit.”
In the end, Thanos’ encounter with the Living Tribunal was ultimately scrapped because “we were also in the middle of a very highly paced fight, and to stop it to have an LSD trip was fun, but kind of sucked the air out of the punching,” Markus said.
Avengers: Endgame is available to own on Digital HD July 30 and on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray August 13.