Development on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame was literally years in the making for the screenwriters on the project Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. So much so that they decided on the critical conclusions nearly four years before the final movie even hit theaters. With such an early lead time for development on the movies a few different versions of the film were tossed around along the way, including entire sequences, plot scenarios, and characters from the pages of Marvel comics that didn't make it into the final film.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Markus and McFeely offered fresh insight into the making of the two movies, and life at Marvel Studios in general, revealing how different some character arcs were at certain points in development. Among them: Bruce Banner and The Hulk, who seemingly had the most drastic changes across the two films as development continued, not to mention a major Doctor Strange comic location that was cut.
"The alternate versions were sort of side roads we served for characters who had left the plot behind," Markus said. "It would be entertaining and it would be interesting and it would be cool to look at, but it would cause you to pause on the Thanos plot, and suck the air out of it. There was a sequence in the first movie where they went into the places in the Doctor Strange universe called The Mindscape and everyone faces themselves. It was great but had absolutely nothing to do with anything."
McFeely went on to clarify that the heroes indeed would have faced mirror versions of themselves in this sequence, with Banner having to fight The Hulk.
"Banner meets the Hulk, I think in the arena from Ragnarok. Only one of them was getting out of there, and then that one showed up in Wakanda [in Infinity War] and he had merged. That merging that currently happens in [Endgame] in a diner, and he's eating a huge stack of pancakes? That initially happened at the end of Infinity War."
The writer went on to detail a deleted scene from the film that was not only shot as part of the film while first in production, but was made into toys that were released...the Hulk emerging from the Hulkbuster armor for the final battle in Infinity War.
"The Hulk refuses to come out, if you remember, and [in the discarded story line] they eventually came to a realization or a compromise and he busted out of the Iron Man suit and beats the heck out of this [monster]. That whole third act is a march toward losing, and this Hulk scene is a big win, right? It's a guy solving his problem and being a funny character because now he's eloquent. We had to, at the last second, scrap all that, put aside all these scenes that used to have Smart Hulk, and then reshoot the first act of Endgame, going to Thanos's country lodge, that used to have the Smart Hulk."
Markus also revealed that the need for Smart Hulk in Endgame came from the time jump that happens early in the film and that they needed every character to have had a change once that happened.
"We wanted everybody to have this enormous journey in the five-year jump [after the Thanos snap], and to really see, in sometimes shocking ways, how the loss had affected them. We hadn't given Banner [a change] because we had transformed him earlier, and he had nowhere to go. And suddenly by needing to take it out of the first movie, it was the perfect thing."
Despite having written six films in the MCU including all three Captain America movies, Markus and McFeely have no current plans to write any more Marvel movies, but Mark Ruffalo is still game to appear as The Hulk!