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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure's Original Title Would Have Changed Everything

People sometimes call Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure the sleeper hit of 1989. It was the 31st highest grossing film of that year, making $40 million on a $6.5 million budget. The film starred unknowns, was made by unknowns, and very nearly didn't even get distributed when De Laurentiis Entertainment Group declared bankruptcy.

But Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was released, and it was a success. The characters garnered a sequel, a live-action TV series, a cartoon, and multiple comic book runs. And on August 28, 2020, Bill & Ted Face the Music will see original stars Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return to the franchise to wrap up the story of how Wyld Stallyns' music creates a utopian society.

Bill & Ted was nearly extremely different, though. Screenwriter Ed Solomon recently unearthed the title page for the original film's first draft and posted it to Twitter. The early title? Bill and Ted's (Outstanding) Time Van.

Yes, that's right. Instead of the telephone booth in which Bill and Ted ultimately travel through time (so they can complete their history report and save the world), they nearly tooled around in a time van — a 1969 Chevrolet time van, to be exact. The change was made to avoid comparisons with another time travel franchise: Back to the Future. A van and a DeLorean were seen as too similar. 

But that's not the only way Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was nearly completely different.

Time traveling in a van to meet... Hitler?

Hop in our Totally Tubular Parallel Universe Hopping Website and let's take a gander at the Bill & Ted movie we nearly got. In addition to the title and the method of travel, Bill and Ted themselves were nearly completely different dudes. 

Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson originally conceived Bill and Ted as "14-year-old skinny guys, with low-rider bell-bottoms and heavy metal T-shirts" who were hated by their classmates. Considering Pauly Shore was up for the role of Bill S. Preston, you can almost see where they were going with that idea. Thankfully, Reeves and Winter linked up early during auditions and cultivated the versions of the characters we wound up seeing in the final film.

Another massive change from the original story is who Bill and Ted first nab in the time traveling adventures. In the movie, Napoleon Bonaparte accidentally hitches a ride in the time machine and winds up kicking it around San Dimas, eating sundaes, getting thrown out of bowling alleys, and going to water parks. In an earlier draft, there was a very different historical figure in that role — Adolf Hitler. Let's be honest — it's very good that they changed that idea to Napoleon.

Speaking of historical figures, Bill and Ted were originally scripted to meet Charlemagne and Babe Ruth. There was also a subplot in which Bill and Ted's classmates accidentally kill Julius Caesar. Suffice to say, things would have been very different if Bill and Ted had traveled by van instead of by phone booth. The Rufus who gave them the van from wouldn't have even been from the future — he'd just have been a 28-year-old friend. Weird!

Bill and Ted Face the Music is in theaters and on VOD beginning August 28, 2020.