One of the most dynamic moments of Avengers: Endgame is after those portals fly open and basically every Marvel hero stands shoulder to shoulder before the big battle with Thanos. The audible cheers in some screenings for Gwyneth Paltrow swooping down to support her husband as Rescue. But, with the Avengers: Endgame artbook out in the wild now, fans are starting to realize that a very different version of the character could have taken that place on the big screen. That sleek design was almost replaced by something a little bulkier in early drafts. The first clue toward Rescue’s probable inclusion comes when Tony Stark’s daughter comes out of her play tent with a purple version of what seems like an Iron Man helmet. It’s cute and was shrugged off by most of the audience as cute fan service, but things got a whole lot more real as it became clear that everybody in the Avengers orbit was going to step up in the final battle.
“We introduce Pepper’s Rescue helmet when little Morgan Stark comes out of the tent at Tony’s cabin, and she’s playing around with it,” Executive Producer Trinh Tran says. “Tony, he’s going, ‘Where did you get that? That’s actually for Mommy.’ So that’s a nice little hint for when she shows up in the battle in full uniform and she’s fighting alongside the Avengers.”
It wasn’t always a slam dunk for that particular design of Rescue to show up and people at various levels of the company had to fight to maintain that vision.
“At the beginning, there was a lot of hesitation toward making a feminine suit,” Marvel Studios conceptual artist Phil Saunders says. “There was a lot of concern about how it would be received, and so the initial mandate was to design a suit that was a little bit more androgynous and a little bit more gender-neutral [like the Iron Man armor first designed and worn in the comics by the character Riri Williams, a 15-year-old girl]— and to me that was the wrong direction to go for this.”
He continued, “I felt strongly that the Iron Man suit had always from the beginning been an idealized male human form rendered in mechanical language, and that’s what makes it a Super Hero suit rather than being simply a space suit or some functional piece of equipment. When Tony Stark puts that suit on, he has to become a hero in the Greek classical sense of the word. So he becomes an idealized figure and I thought that needed to be the same thing for Pepper. Again, I wanted to make it a strong female form without it being sexualized.”
“I only did one concept, which was the red one at the time,” Saunders continued. “Initially it was going to be a matching his-and-hers costume. And I presented that. We had a presentation with all of the designs, and it was the only particularly feminine design in the set, and it was really championed by [Executive Vice President of Production] Victoria Alonso. She said, ‘This is what Rescue needs to be. If I were a girl going out to see this movie, that’s the toy I would want to come home with. That’s the one that feels like an empowering female Super Hero design to me.’ So that’s what it was.”