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Endgame Scenes And Moments Left On The Cutting Room Floor

Avengers: Endgame is one of the most ambitious Hollywood blockbusters of all time. Looking back, it's remarkable that directors Joe and Anthony Russo, along with their filmmaking team, were able to pull it off as well as they did, creating genuinely satisfying conclusions for the Avengers' epic conflict against Thanos and for a number of character arcs that were gradually developed over the course of a decade.

Endgame has a huge cast and a complex plot, but its staggering runtime actually goes by pretty swiftly due to the fact that this film has almost zero wasted seconds. It's probably the most efficient 181-minute film of all time. But interestingly, about a dozen deleted scenes have been revealed since the film's theatrical release, and most of them are now available to watch on Disney+. Some are discarded versions of important scenes that were recreated after test screenings, while others simply weren't important enough to be included in the film at all. They all definitely belong on the cutting room floor, but it's always interesting to track the filmmakers' creative process and get a peek at what almost became a part of the Infinity Saga's grand finale.

In this deleted Endgame scene, Tony and Pepper enjoy domestic life

After the five-year time jump early in the film, the audience is reintroduced to each member of the Avengers so that we can learn how they've coped with their defeat and the loss of half of all life. In the finished film, we find Tony Stark stepping out of his cozy cabin to collect his five-year-old daughter, Morgan, for lunch. It's a cute scene that establishes that Tony has found peace and happiness since the Thanos disaster, and when Steve, Nat, and Scott arrive moments later to pitch their "time heist," which would jeopardize his new family life, we can easily understand why Tony would refuse the call to action.

There's a deleted scene that would've directly preceded this one where we first catch up with Tony and Pepper Potts in their kitchen, preparing lunch and exchanging playful banter. While it's a pleasant moment, it's ultimately unnecessary. The "getting the band back together" portion of Endgame is about showing how much each character has changed. That Tony and Pepper have settled into the best version of their odd couple routine is well-established in the scenes that follow, but it's also not the pivotal change in Tony's life. We've seen him grow into a more responsible, loving partner over the course of several films, but it's fatherhood that makes Tony a different man than we've seen before.

Hulk leaps to the rescue

Bruce Banner originally had a different character reintroduction after the time jump. In an unfinished deleted scene, the Incredible Hulk comes to the rescue of some citizens trapped in a burning building, bounding across rooftops and then carrying them to safety on top of a large satellite dish. Upon landing on the street below, Hulk surprises a fire captain (Die Hard's Reginald VelJohnson) by offering him some thoughtful advice about how to combat the blaze. This would've been how the audience first learns that Bruce Banner and the Hulk have made peace and combined into one superhero. He then answers a cell phone call from Steve Rogers, which would've led into the scene in the diner that introduces Professor Hulk in the final film.

While "show, don't tell" is one of the golden rules of storytelling, this scene might've interrupted the flow of the movie. After the time jump, Endgame goes the next 40 minutes without an action sequence, favoring a slow transition from a somber look at the new status quo to a string of sight gags in the prelude to the "time heist." Having one short scene of heroic derring-do smack in the middle of it would likely have felt jarring.

The team preps the time suit

Once Tony rejoins the team, providing them with the secret to controlled time travel, there's a scene in which Bruce and Rhodey prepare Scott Lang for a test jaunt into the past. Scott and Rhodey exchange references to classic time travel movies, but they're set straight by Banner, who establishes this movie's time travel rules, which are fairly consistent with contemporary theories of quantum physics.

Included on Disney+ is an earlier version of this scene that's much shorter, one that focuses more on introducing the Quantum Suit than explaining movie trivia or quantum mechanics, with Nebula swapped in for Rhodey. It also implies a slightly different design for the suit, mentioning the that it has a transparent bubble helmet like the one seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. In the final film, the helmets all resemble Ant-Man's, save for Iron Man's and War Machine's. This scene made it as far as test screenings before being reshot as the version we know today.

In the Disney+ commentary for this scene, co-director Joe Russo explains that this version was replaced once the filmmakers realized that test audiences were more familiar with Back to the Future than they'd imagined, and they decided to directly reference it to explain Endgame's time travel.

Rhodey plays 'How It Should Have Ended' with Cap

After proving their time travel plan can work, the Avengers retrace the events of their previous adventures to determine their best opportunities to steal the Infinity Stones from the past. And this gave the screenwriters the chance to comment on the films themselves through the characters. In the final film, the key example of this is Thor's rambling explanation of the plot of The Dark World, but in the commentary track, screenwriter Stephen McFeely says they "probably had 15 pages of stuff" along these lines.

One scene from the brainstorming sequence that was shot but cut from the film sees Rhodey asking Steve about the climax of Captain America: The First Avenger, in which the young Steve crashes Hydra's bomber jet into the Arctic, leading to his long hibernation. Rhodey asks the question many viewers have asked — why didn't Steve just jump out of the plane after setting it on its collision course? There is, of course, no real reason beyond "that's what the story demanded," which leaves Cap with no answer. In another film, this might've been a harmless gag, but seeing as Steve's story in Endgame is otherwise pretty sincere, this joke only serves to make Steve look stupid when we really should be feeling the weight of his sacrifice and how much he deserves a happy ending.

Rocket mocks the finale of The Avengers

In a scene cut from the time-travel brainstorming sequence, Rocket watches footage from the Battle of New York from the first Avengers film and recognizes Loki's army, the Chitauri. When he learns that the original team spent hours fighting them, Rocket has a big laugh at their expense, calling the Chitauri "the suckiest army in the galaxy." Apparently, the fact that the Chitauri can be defeated all at once by destroying their mothership is common knowledge to the rest of the galaxy.

This scene is an honest jab at Joss Whedon's The Avengers, in which the sudden death of the entire enemy army when their ship is destroyed does feel like a bit of a cop-out in hindsight. But according to the filmmakers' commentary, this scene didn't make the cut because it felt "a little too inside baseball." This scene is only about 20 seconds long, but in a film that's already clocking in at three hours, anything that you don't need and isn't quite working has got to go.

Hulk and the Ancient One have a calmer encounter

Once the time heist is underway, Hulk/Bruce Banner's role is to track down the Time Stone during the Battle of New York, which the team assumes is with Dr. Strange. In fact, at this point in the timeline, the keeper of the Time Stone is Strange's mentor, the Ancient One. In the finished film, the Ancient One is initially hesitant to relinquish the stone, but Bruce eventually convinces her to let him take it into the future.

A pair of deleted scenes present a different version of their encounter, where instead of blasting Chitauri from her rooftop, the Ancient One is calmly barbecuing while the city is under siege by aliens. The Ancient One volunteers the stone almost immediately, but Banner gets cold feet when she outlines the grave multiversal consequences of removing the Infinity Stones from the timeline. The Ancient One ends up having to convince Banner to take the stone instead of the other way around, awkwardly reversing which character should be trying to accomplish something in the scene. This version also makes no mention of Dr. Strange's decision to voluntarily give Thanos the Time Stone in Infinity War, which is central to the scene in the final cut.

According to the Disney+ commentary, the Russos believed that a greater tension was needed between the two characters, and the scene was rewritten as it appears in the film.

Thor takes a leak in Asgard

For their part of the time heist, Thor and Rocket are dispatched to Asgard during the plot of Thor: The Dark World, where they're supposed to secretly extract the Reality Stone (aka the Aether) from Jane Foster. In the completed film, we see Thor having a panic attack over having to return to pose as his former, more confident self and confront his ex. Thor's time in Asgard is a microcosm for his whole arc in the film, which is a sad tale of lost identity couched in broad comedy.

One comedic moment was cut from the film, in which Rocket catches Thor peeing off a palace balcony. Rocket admonishes Thor for his lack of focus on the mission, and Thor tries to explain how traumatic it is to return to the scene of a bloody battle moments before it happens. The pair then goes wandering, since Thor can't remember his way around the palace. This bit doesn't accomplish anything that the following scenes don't do better, which is probably why the final cut starts this subplot with Thor and Rocket sneaking around, instead.

Tony and Howard get some more father-son bonding

There's an additional portion of dialogue between Tony Stark and his father Howard on the Army base in 1970, although it seems to have been cut for redundancy. This scene seems to fit somewhere between when the two take the elevator up from the lab and when we catch up with them later on the surface, after Cap does his part of the heist. Lasting only about 20 seconds, this scene ends with Howard casually offering Tony a job, to which Tony replies, "I'm a little tied up in futures right now." It's a bit of a groaner, but this is a conversation between two dads, after all.

While Tony certainly savors every moment spent with his dead father, this is a perfect example of a scene that's doesn't stand out as bad but also doesn't really contribute anything to the story. In a film that wasn't already so stuffed, it's easy to imagine this remaining in the movie, but in a three-hour adventure epic, anything that's not helping is hurting.

Black Widow goes out in a firefight

The sequence in which Hawkeye and Black Widow fight to keep each other from sacrificing themselves for the Soul Stone is an emotional and well-staged finale to Endgame's second act. It's an action scene with a unique objective, as Clint and Nat keep pulling out more tricks in a desperate attempt to save the other and to dive off the cliffs of Vormir themselves. It's also preceded by some strong, heartfelt dialogue between the two friends, which helps to explain why they each think they should be the one to die.

But before this scene was written and shot, a very different version was completed in which, before they can discuss it for very long, Thanos' forces arrive on Vormir and attack them, forcing them to act quickly. Clint and Nat take cover from incoming fire, and instead of trying to clear the way for their escape, Nat takes the opportunity to sprint for the cliffs. She's shot multiple times, getting up after each one to advance towards the edge of the cliff, turning around only once to shoot an alien soldier and save Clint's life before tumbling over.

In the Disney+ commentary over this scene, Joe Russo says that the battle with Thanos' troops "overshadowed this powerful moment between the characters," so it was rewritten and reshot as the more intimate sequence that was released in theaters.

The Avengers regroup during the final battle

The final battle of Avengers: Endgame is the largest battle in superhero movie history. It's remarkable that this sequence is even watchable and that the stakes of the battle stay clear even as they escalate and change. One of the ways this is accomplished is by allowing characters to stay in touch across the large distances of the battlefield. The heroes of about 20 films can all operate as a cohesive unit while also supporting their own little side stories, and the action is never interrupted.

But the momentum of the sequence was almost brought to a complete halt by a deleted scene in which nearly the entire cast takes a moment inside the Mirror Dimension to regroup and hash out a plan to get their version of the Infinity Gauntlet into Scott Lang's time machine van. It's a major cinematic misfire, a three-minute scene in which the characters each explain what they're about to do for the following three minutes. This scene also includes weaker takes of several exchanges in the battle — most notably Tony and Peter's reunion, which is far less emotional in the deleted version.

In a New York Times interview, co-writer Stephen McFeely called it a "completely fake, fraudulent scene," and the team was very happy to have replaced it.

Tony meets his adult daughter

When Thanos snaps his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, he momentarily finds himself in an extra-dimensional realm that the filmmakers call the Way Station. There, he encounters a younger version of his daughter Gamora, who he murdered during his quest for the Infinity Stones. This scene is never exactly explained, but given that the Way Station resembles the place where Thanos wakes up with the Soul Stone, it's fair to assume that there's some connection between them.

Originally, Tony would also visit the Way Station the moment after his own snap at the finale of Endgame. There, he would meet an adult version of his daughter Morgan, played by Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why). It's tender, since Morgan's cryptic message all but confirms what he fears — that he's just given up his life and won't get to see her grow up. Tony has a moment of regret, but Morgan helps to steady him. He leaves her with the parting words, "I love you 3000."

The filmmakers were fond of the scene, but according to their Disney+ commentary, they felt that there was a risk of giving the film the "too many endings" syndrome suffered by other dramas of ambitious runtime, and that it was emotionally redundant with Tony's self-eulogy scene a few minutes later. One part of the scene was salvaged, though, as Robert Downey Jr. dubbed in "I love you 3000" to close out his holographic message with a nod to his daughter.

The Avengers take a knee

In the final cut of Endgame, the wounded Iron Man quietly passes away on the battlefield, and we see the shocked and saddened reactions of his family, close friends, and colleagues. Then we fade directly from Pepper cradling her husband's body to a montage of the world he's saved, narrated by Tony himself.

In the extended version, however, we cut back from Pepper to the other Avengers, and after a beat, Clint Barton drops to one knee and bows his head. T'Challa follows suit, as does Captain Marvel. The sentiment is contagious, and one by one, the rest of the cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes a knee in honor of their fallen figurehead. Only two characters abstain — his best friend Rhodey, who's turned his back to Tony's body, and the alternate timeline's Gamora, who's never met any of these people and uses this moment to sneak away from the battle unnoticed, which explains her absence in later scenes.

Despite its emotional impact, the Russos cut this scene because the knee-bending moment and the funeral that followed shortly thereafter "seemed to fight one another and created a repetitious ending." 

Thor tries to kiss Valkyrie in this deleted Endgame scene

The Infinity Saga Blu-ray box set includes an exclusive extended version of the scene from Endgame's epilogue where Thor passes the throne of New Asgard to Valkyrie. In the theatrical version of the scene, Valkyrie and Thor shake hands, and then Valkyrie asks Thor about his future plans. The scene ends with Thor saying that he doesn't know where he's headed, but that he's "got a ride." After the reveal of the Guardians' ship, the Benatar, parked nearby, we cut to the next scene aboard the ship, where Thor and Peter Quill bicker over command.

In the extended scene, Valkyrie reaches over to squeeze Thor's arm, which quickly turns into an awkward moment as Thor misinterprets this friendly gesture as a romantic one. He leans in for a kiss, which Valkyrie rebuffs. The two friends awkwardly laugh it off, and Valkyrie leaves Thor with a light and platonic punch on the arm. The Russos haven't gone on record to explain why this scene was cut, but we'd bet it's because this joke interrupts the clean segue between this scene and the next one aboard the Benatar. Plus, aside from providing some closure to any fans who thought Thor and Valkyrie might get together, it doesn't add much in the otherwise smooth ride to the conclusion.