The Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed the cinematic landscape and inspired numerous copycats, like Universal’s failed Dark Universe. The shared universe of films that was created by Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios has ushered in a new era of comic book flicks that actually feel as if they’re ripped off from the pages we used to read as kids. No one can deny the meticulous craftsmanship that Feige and his team of artists have put into these films, and while they may seem perfect at first glance, you can’t get to such high levels of success without a few bumps in the road. Like any work of art, the MCU has had numerous behind-the-scenes issues that have changed its trajectory for better or for worse.
10. Who Really Is The Mandarin?
Fans were excited when it was announced that the third film in the Iron Man franchise would finally see the introduction of The Mandarin, Tony Stark’s archenemy. It turned out that The Mandarin in the film was actually an actor doing the bidding of the film’s real villain Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce. In an early draft of the script, the real villain was going to be none other than Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen, an old friend of Tony’s. According to writer and director Shane Black, Marvel executives insisted that no one would buy any action figures if the villain was female. Black had no choice but to swap the character’s gender. Much of the blame went towards Marvel Chairman Ike Perlmutter, who has butted heads with Kevin Feige numerous times.
9. Spider-Man and Mutants In Iron Man?
The MCU as we know it was born out of the words Nick Fury uttered in the now iconic Iron Man post-credits scene. In it, Fury teased the Avengers initiative, telling Tony Stark that he isn’t the only superhero in the universe. It turns out that an alternate version of the scene that was filmed mentioned Spider-Man’s radioactive bug bites and the mutants from X-Men. That scene had to be cut as Marvel didn’t have the rights to Spider-Man or the X-Men at the time, but it shows just how vast the MCU’s vision was in the earliest of days. A decade after that scene was filmed, Marvel had all of its characters under its belt even if it wasn’t easy getting them all.
8. Patty Jenkins Exits Thor: The Dark World
Originally, Patty Jenkins was hired to direct Thor’s second solo outing but left the project shortly after. Jenkins’ version of the Thor sequel was based on Romeo and Juliet and would have focused on Thor and Jane Foster’s forbidden love. Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor was brought on board to replace Jenkins after she parted ways with Marvel Studios. It’s been reported that Natalie Portman was displeased that Marvel let Jenkins go, as she would have been the studio’s first female director. With the Romeo and Juliet plot, it’s easy to imagine that Portman’s Jane would have had a more substantial role. Years later, Jenkins would go on to direct DC’s Wonder Woman, the first modern-day female superhero movie.
7. Don Cheadle Becomes War Machine
Most fans seem to forget that War Machine was originally played by Terrence Howard. Howard’s tenure as Colonel James Rhodey only lasted for the first Iron Man film, which briefly teased the character donning the War Machine suit. As soon as the first film became a success, Marvel was quick to begin working on the sequel. It turned out that director Jon Favreau was having a hard time working with Howard and didn’t feel keen on seeing him return to the role. At the same time, Marvel approached Howard to notify him that they’d be cutting his salary, stating that the film would be a “success with or without him.” Howard, who signed a three-picture contract with Marvel, was quickly replaced by Don Cheadle. While it’s still annoying that the actor continuity isn’t consistent, in the end, this was one of those changes that actually worked for the MCU as it’s hard to imagine anyone else besides Don Cheadle playing War Machine.
6. No Older Morgan In Avengers: Endgame
Some of the most heartfelt and beautiful scenes in Avengers: Endgame came from the young Morgan Stark. It turns out that we were supposed to get one more scene from Tony’s daughter that didn’t make the final cut. After Tony’s snap, we were supposed to see him meet an older Morgan, played by Katherine Langford. The scene was supposed to mirror the moment where Thanos was face to face with a younger Gamora. In the scene, both of the Starks would have shared a heartfelt moment together, with the older Morgan acknowledging the risk her father took. What’s important about this scene was that it would have introduced us to an older Morgan, which in turn informally gave us a vision into the future of the MCU. Morgan could have easily been set up as the successor to the Iron Man mantle but ultimately, the Russo Brothers cut the scene from the final film, severing all ties with rising star Katherine Langford.
5. Marvel “Breaks” Joss Whedon
One of Kevin Feige’s greatest hiring choices was getting geek icon Joss Whedon on board to write and direct The Avengers, the first film to truly show what the MCU was capable of. It was a no- brainer when it was announced that Whedon would be returning to write and direct the Avengers sequel Age of Ultron. Expectations were high for the sequel and while they were mostly met, many found the film to be filled to the brim with content that just didn’t need to be there. Whedon and Marvel had quite the fallout as the studio forced the director to shoehorn in scenes like the mystical pool scene that set up Thor: Ragnarok. The studio even threatened to cut out some of his favorite moments, like the scenes at Hawkeye’s farm, if he didn’t play ball. By the end of the film’s production, Whedon described himself as “broken” and found the entire ordeal to be “unpleasant,” leaving the MCU for good. Whedon would later join Patty Jenkins over at DC, working on 2017’s Justice League following Zack Snyder’s exit from the project.
4. Edgar Wright Leaves Ant-Man Behind
Another director who had to leave Marvel was Edgar Wright, who worked on Ant-Man for over a decade. Wright was a huge fan of the property and was taking his sweet time with the character, making the project just right for his live-action debut. As production grew nearer, it became clear to Wright that the studio wanted him to make the film more and more connected to the MCU. Months before filming was about to begin, Wright left the project because he just couldn’t see eye-to-eye with the Marvel team. That being said, some of Ant-Man‘s greatest casting choices, which include Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, were all Wright’s decisions, so we do have to give him some kudos there.
3. Universal Holds Hulk Hostage
Since Mark Ruffalo became the Hulk, fans have been begging for Marvel to give him a shot at leading his own movie. While Ruffalo would love to headline his own movie as Dr. Bruce Banner, he has no choice but to be a supporting character in the MCU movies. Universal holds the distribution rights to The Hulk, which means that Disney and Universal would have to spend time negotiating to make a movie focusing on the character. While Universal holds the rights to the character, Disney has found a perfect legal loophole by having Ruffalo’s Hulk appear in tons of MCU films as a supporting character.
2. James Gunn Swept Up By DC
James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2018 after some of his inappropriate jokes resurfaced online. Warner Bros. and DC, realizing that this was their time to shine, approached Gunn and gave him the keys to their kingdom. Gunn ultimately landed on The Suicide Squad sequel/reboot, which is set to hit theatres in the summer of 2021. As time passed, Disney and Marvel realized that they prematurely fired one of their finest auteurs and got him reinstated back into his original role. While Disney definitely lost face for its hasty decision, the main issue here comes in the film’s production being drastically delayed, essentially changing the course for the MCU.
1. No More Spider-Man?
The summer of 2019 was a devastating one for Marvel fans. As if seeing Tony Stark perish at the hands of the Snap wasn’t enough, fans were blown away when J. Jonah Jameson leaked Spider-Man’s identity at the end of Far From Home. And while the cliffhanger from the film left us wanting more, there was a brief period where we thought that would be the end of Spidey in the MCU. After Far From Home hit cinemas, Marvel and Sony went back to the negotiating table to figure out the character’s future in the MCU. The two parties couldn’t reach a deal and for a brief time, Sony was going to develop its own Spider-Man film without Kevin Feige to steer the ship. After tons of fan outcry and a little help from Tom Holland himself, both parties have now come together for a third Spider-Man film. While it may have ended well for both Marvel and Sony, this whole debacle proved how volatile the entire situation is. It feels as if Spider-Man, Marvel’s most beloved character, is always on ice that seems to thin after every new MCU movie.
These are just some of Marvel’s biggest behind-the-scenes issues that changed the studio-s trajectory. With Phase 4 just on the horizon , we can only hope that the creative process is much more streamlined! Make sure to keep an eye on Heroic Hollywood for all the latest entertainment news, be sure to subscribe to your YouTube channel, and check out our other videos. Let us know in the comments if you’re excited to see what’s next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe!