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Marvel Movies That Almost Included MCU Easter Eggs

"Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet." 

With those words in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, Nick Fury revealed to Tony Stark — and moviegoers — that a much larger realm of superheroes was out there. In the years since Iron Man, all the potential of that post-credits scene has been realized and then some, culminating in the iconic Portals scene from Avengers: Endgame. Over the course of 23 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, countless Marvel superheroes have crossed paths even outside of the Avengers team-up installments. Beyond installments in the MCU, films like Sony's Morbius have also included appearances from MCU figures. The universe that Fury was talking about just continues to grow.

Crossovers may be the norm for modern superhero movies, but that doesn't mean every proposed MCU guest appearance and Easter egg has made it to the screen. Sometimes, these attempts at universe connections get cut due to an assortment of issues. In at least one instance, the blame lies at script rewrites. Other times, rights issues led to a crossover getting the axe. Whatever the reason, here are some MCU appearances and Easter eggs that never got to become part of Nick Fury's "bigger universe."

President Ellis almost returned in Ant-Man

From the first scene of Ant-Man, it's apparent that this film is firmly planted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A prologue taking place in S.H.I.E.L.D's Triskelion from Captain America: The Winter Soldier saw a young Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) cutting ties with older versions of Howard Stark (John Slattery) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Subsequent scenes in Ant-Man furthered the film's connection to the MCU, including Pym explicitly referencing the climax of Avengers: Age of Ultron and an extended cameo from the Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

However, one deleted cameo from Ant-Man would have seen another MCU character making an appearance. According to actor William Sadler, he filmed a scene for Ant-Man reprising his Iron Man 3 role of President Matthew Ellis. "I actually shot a thing for Ant-Man. I shot a bit of President Matthew Ellis for Ant-Man," Sadler told the Lights, Thunder, Action! podcast. "But they decided to use a different President, I don't know. It was pretty silly."

Sadler didn't reveal any other details about what kind of role Ellis would have played in Ant-Man. It's difficult to speculate on what kind of part the character would have had, given that no President or political figure appears in the film. Still, a deleted scene like this one, as well as numerous other moments in Ant-Man, serve as a reminder of how MCU movies are always finding ways to potentially link up to one another.

Did Marvel plan to use MODOK in Captain Marvel?

In her debut solo film, Captain Marvel fought against a number of nefarious foes ranging from Ronan the Accusor to the Kree Supreme Intelligence. However, she also came close to squaring off with another villain staple of Marvel Comics: In the background of some concept art for the film, MODOK can be seen as one of the spectators cheering on Captain Marvel in a fight.

The lack of a larger context makes it difficult to discern what role MODOK might have played in Captain Marvel. Is his presence an indicator that Captain Marvel once involved MODOK as a principal villain? Merely an Easter egg on the part of the artist? It's hard to tell. However, this concept art serves as one of the numerous recent attempts to bring MODOK to the world of live-action storytelling. TV shows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Warriors each had separate plans to introduce the character; meanwhile, Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely have openly spoken of their desire to work MODOK into the MCU, dating back to August 2014.

With so many attempts to date, MODOK is bound to slip into a live-action project eventually — perhaps in a Captain Marvel sequel.

This Guardians character nearly appeared in Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok was writer/director Taika Waititi's inaugural voyage into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he ended up digging into MCU lore like he'd been in the franchise for years — Ragnarok shoutouts to other MCU titles included comedic lines calling back to the first two Avengers movies as well as the presence of superheroes like the Hulk and Doctor Strange. However, not all of Waititi's attempts to connect Ragnarok to other MCU movies made it to the screen.

Nova Corps member Rhomann Dey (John C. Reilly) hasn't been seen since his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy. If Waititi had his way, though, Dey would have re-emerged during the events of Thor: Ragnarok. "There was no real way to pull it off," Waititi revealed during an October 2017 Reddit AMA session. Since delivering this revelation, Waititi has not revealed what kind of role Dey could have had in the film. Given Reilly's skills with comedy, though, it's easy to see him fitting into the wacky world of a Waititi movie. Perhaps Dey will finally appear in Waititi's Ragnarok sequel Thor: Love and Thunder.

An alternate cameo-filled post-credits scene for Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features an eclectic collection of versions of Spider-Man, most of which had never been seen in a theatrical film before. From Spider-Ham to Spider-Gwen to Miles Morales himself, Into the Spider-Verse definitely isn't lacking for iterations of the famous web-crawler. Still, a deleted scene from the film saw even more familiar versions of the hero crossing paths with Morales and company.

In May 2020, Into the Spider-Verse producer Chris Miller revealed on Twitter that there were originally plans for a post-credits scene featuring the Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland versions of Spider-Man. "We pitched the Sony brass an ambitious tag involving Spider-Ham, Tobey, Andrew, and Tom," Millet tweeted. "They felt it was 'too soon.'" This sequence got left on the cutting room floor in favor of a different post-credits scene involving the first film appearance of Spider-Man 2099.

Though this crossover was ditched from Into the Spider-Verse, there's still a chance we could see the live-action Spider-Men cross paths with the likes of Spider-Ham. With a sequel and a spinoff in the works from the movie, there are already two more future opportunities for the likes of Tom Holland's Spider-Man to swing around the Spider-Verse.

Were Venom and Spider-Man supposed to meet?

In announcing that Marvel Studios would end up producing another Spider-Man movie after Far from Home, producer Kevin Feige mentioned in Variety that Spider-Man "happens to be the only hero with the superpower to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold." This confirmation that Sony spinoff movies like Morbius can include Tom Holland's Spider-Man came after a crossover between the two universes very nearly occurred.

In January 2018, ComicBook.com reported that Tom Holland had filmed a cameo scene for Venom, appearing only as Peter Parker. However, when the film hit movie theaters nine months later, Peter Parker was nowhere to be seen. This was subsequently explained by Jay Washington on Collider Live as interference on the part of Marvel Studios. "I'll tell you the truth: Tom Holland did film a scene for Venom," Washington explained. "Marvel saw the movie and was like 'Take him out. Take this scene out.' Peter Parker was in Venom, not Spider-Man."

Peter Parker may have been cut from Venom but the appearance of Spider-Man on a poster in the Morbius trailer makes it clear the character is going to have some kind of presence in upcoming Sony/Marvel productions. Whether that means we can expect an appearance by Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the Venom follow-up Venom: Let There Be Carnage remains to be seen.

Captain America almost had a chilly cameo in The Incredible Hulk

The post-production process on The Incredible Hulk saw numerous scenes ending up on the cutting room floor. "It's lots of pieces that I shot that I didn't know where I was going to put them in the movie," director Louis Letterier told IESB about many of these deleted scenes. "Maybe they were going to be flashbacks, we had points of entry but it was not really working." Among these cut scenes was an alternate opening that included a brief glimpse at another member of the Avengers.

This discarded opening sequence depicted "Bruce Banner [giving] up on his quest for the cure and [deciding] to kill himself. So he travels far North and reaches the Arctic Circle," Letterier explained. "The result was a very dark and strong scene, which Marvel, me and everyone else considered to be too hard to young audiences to take, so we've cut it." At the end of this sequence, Banner transforms into the Hulk, causing an avalanche of snow that reveals Captain America's shield buried deep in the snow.

Though this brief crossover between Hulk and Captain America ended up being dropped from The Incredible Hulk, the two superheroes have had plenty of interactions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since. Thanks to a quartet of Avengers movies, Hulk and Captain America have developed a bond that goes far deeper than a deleted Incredible Hulk sequence.

Black Panther and Kraven the Hunter

First appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #15 in August 1964, the nefarious Kraven the Hunter has spent the majority of his time as a comic book villain in Spider-Man's rogues' gallery. However, if Black Panther director Ryan Coogler had gotten his wish, he would have had Kraven face off with the King of Wakanda in Black Panther.

"I've always loved Kraven the Hunter in almost every iteration," Coogler told iO9. "So there was a moment — 'Can I grab Kraven?' and they were 'Nah, you don't have Kraven.' He was one where I thought, 'Oh, man.' But I don't even know if he would have worked in the movie we ended up with, this was the early days." The reason for Coogler not being able to use Kraven is likely due to the character's film rights not being held by Marvel Studios: Because Kraven is a Spider-Man comic book fixture, his film rights lie with Sony.

While Coogler didn't get his wish to bring Kraven to life, it does look like Kraven will be heading to the silver screen sooner rather than later. In 2020, Sony hired J.C. Chandor to direct a Kraven the Hunter solo movie written by Richard Wenk.

Which superheroes were supposed to debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron?

For the final scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron, director Joss Whedon wanted to close out the movie with a bang. This meant introducing a new Avengers roster into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that included fresh recruits War Machine, Falcon, Vision, and Wanda Maximoff. Originally, though, Whedon saw the sequence including even more heroes — specifically, ones that had never appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before.

Whedon wanted to include both Spider-Man and Captain Marvel in this closing sequence, but larger issues prevented him from fulfilling this ambition. "I would have put both of them [in Ultron]," Whedon told the Hollywood Reporter. "But neither of the deals were made." By "deals," Whedon is referring to the fact that Captain Marvel hadn't been cast yet in the MCU — as well as the fact that, when Ultron was created, Marvel Studios wasn't part of the wall-crawling superhero's film franchise.

Despite not appearing in Ultron, both of these costumed crimefighters soon wound up in the MCU. Spidey made his MCU debut a year after Ultron in Captain America: Civil War, while Captain Marvel would premiere in her own solo movie in 2019 after a post-credits tease in Avengers: Infinity War.

Why Wasp wasn't in Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is technically a solo movie for Cap. However, that didn't mean it couldn't house a whole slew of other superheroes, from Iron Man to Vision and Wanda Maximoff. Also among the special guests: Ant-Man, a.k.a. Scott Lang, in his first MCU appearance outside of his own solo movie. Notably absent from Civil War was Ant-Man's counterpart, Wasp, though this wasn't always the case.

Ant-Man director Peyton Reed recalled to Polygon that producer Brad Winderbaum told Reed that the Civil War crew, in addition to getting to premiere the Giant-Man version of Ant-Man, were "going to get the Wasp reveal, too, at one point." However, Civil War eventually dropped Wasp due to the already unwieldy size of its cast. "The whole idea of Civil War looms large in [Ant-Man and the Wasp]," Reed explained to Polygon. "It's kind of a sequel to Civil War... so [the Wasp appearance] didn't happen."

Civil War may not have gotten a chance to debut the film version of the Wasp, but it's hard to feel sorry for the movie given that this Captain America adventure already has so many superheroes to work with. Interestingly, though, this wasn't the first time an MCU adventure came close to incorporating the Wasp before nixing those plans.

The Avengers almost starred the Wasp

When Joss Whedon stepped into the role of writing and directing The Avengers, he was looking to put his own stamp on the project. This meant ditching a first draft of the movie's script, penned by Zak Penn, in favor of a script entirely of his own creation. While writing this script, Whedon went through a process of trial and error in terms of story details while trying to get the movie just right.

"We went through a lot of insane iterations of what might be," Whedon explained to Thrillist. "At the very beginning, I wrote entire drafts that had no bearing on what I would eventually film. There was a moment where we thought we weren't gonna have Scarlett [Johansson], and so I wrote a huge bunch of pages starring the Wasp. That was not useful." This would have brought the movie version of the Avengers closer to the first lineup of the group in the comics, which featured Wasp (alongside her counterpart Ant-Man) rather than Black Widow. 

Of course, those plans never came to pass. Johansson did end up reprising her role as Black Widow in The Avengers. As for the Wasp, she would have to wait until 2018s Ant-Man and the Wasp to see full-fledged superhero action.