What Could Have Been / Film

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/superman_lives_1.jpg
You wouldn't believe that Johnny Blaze tried to fly.note 
Because of length, this page has been split.


    open/close all folders 

    Alien Series 
  • Alien:
    • Ridley Scott has been quoted as saying that he wanted a much different ending for the original Alien. In said ending, the xenomorph would kill Ripley, sit down in her chair and start reciting a distress call. In English. In Ripley's voice.
    • The original script had the alien as a horrible wormlike thing with loads of tentacles and legs instead of the phallic Giger design we all know and love.
    • Giger's design for the Chestburster was originally based very strongly on Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, depicting creatures that while quite phallic are also more birdlike, being based on the Greek Furies. Giger's doubts about his first design were confirmed when Ridley Scott fell about laughing at the sight of the prototype Chestburster, describing it as "like a plucked turkey", and Roger Dicken ended up retooling it to resemble the now classic design.
    • There's also a scene where Lambert gets tail-whipped by an alien... which then proceeds to shuffle across the room on all fours like a crab before attacking, despite clearly being capable of walking on its own hind legs.
  • The original treatment for James Cameron's Aliens would have been much different than the scenario that played out in the finished film. The plotline with Ripley's abandoned daughter would have been much bigger, and Ripley would have a disheartening videophone conversation with her. Newt's father would have been shown getting jumped by a facehugger in the Derelict, and an entire segment would have been devoted to a rescue team getting attacked by scores of facehuggers. Ripley, Newt and Hicks would all get cocooned at one point, but escape. However, the biggest change was that Bishop would have abandoned the rest of the survivors on the planet, and they would have had to escape using one of the colonist's shuttles.
  • Alien³:
    • Although the film is not as well-liked as the first two Alien movies, it could have been much, much... well maybe not better but at least stranger (whether these ideas would have actually been better or worse than what resulted is impossible to know after all). Numerous scripts were written between 1988 and 1992, all of which would have taken the franchise down many different paths. To summarize, there were no less than four spec scripts written for the film, including:
    • Early discussions included an idea by a studio exec, possibly Gordon Carroll, as "The Poseidon Adventure in space" where the escape pod lands on an abandoned colony planet with all the amenities they need. A last-minute Xenomorph jumps out and Ripley/Hicks (depending on who the studio wanted) sacrifices themselves to kill the thing. Ten years pass and Ripley/Hicks, Newt and Bishop are rescued by the crew of an interstellar liner. They are brought onto the liner, on its final voyage before being junked at a far-off industrial colony, WY-3, owned by Weyland-Yutani. On board the liner, various rich sorts are gathered including the Weyland-Yutani chiefs. Bishop would fall "ill" and the infirmary team, unaware he's an android would inadvertently open him up and find him teeming with Xenomorph mini-eggs. The ship becomes caught between tribes of fleeing Xenomorphs - including a mutant race of "glass" Xenomorphs. Newt would be the new heroine, a kick-ass seventeen year old Little Miss Badass. A new main character would be introduced - "Sarge", a crusty old Ernest Borgnine-type ex- Colonial Marine now enjoying his retirement with a shrewish wife. Along the way, the Xenomorphs would attack and kill and chestburst and facehug various crew and passengers while Ripley (Or Hicks), Newt, "Sarge" and a few others would try to find a safe way to the escape capsules. The end would feature Newt being the youngest survivor, sent alone in a one-person pod down to WY-3, while unbeknownst to her, an explosion would rip through the capsule storage area on board the ship, incinerating the entire cast. Newt would land at a Weyland-Yutani HQ on WY-3, waiting for the other capsules and pods to arrive. Then, the liner crashes onto WY-3, filled with hungry, hungry Xenomorphs...
    • The famous William Gibson script, which starts out with a commando team boarding the Sulaco and getting attacked by facehuggers while attempting to rescue Ripley and the survivors from Aliens. The film would then follow Hicks and a newly-reconstructed Bishop on the Anchorpoint space station as they attempt to stop a series of biological experiments that change anyone infected by it into an alien Super Soldier. They escape with a group of survivors. In addition, this virus then somehow makes the jump to mechanical and computer systems and turns an entire space station into a giant Xenomorph. Ripley would be in a coma for most of the film (after having her cryosleep interrupted by the alien attack in the opening sequence; about the only thing this version has in common with the final film) and would be sent away on a lifeboat. Newt would go to live with her grandparents on Earth.
    • Eric Red's script would have started similarly, with a commando team boarding the Sulaco, but they would have found everyone (including Ripley) dead. The rest of the film would have taken place in what appeared a small town in the U.S., where an all-out battle would rage between the townsfolk and the xenomorphs. In a plot twist later in the film, it turned out that the "town" was actually part of a biodome in space, and the rest of the storyline was pretty much a rehash of the "Alien virus" idea in Gibson's script.
    • David Twohy's script featured a "prison planet" idea, but would have had the inmates being experimented on with biological agents (much like Gibson's script), and an inmate named Styles attempting to escape the planet. Twohy got to bring his prison planet to life years and years later in part of The Chronicles of Riddick.
    • Finally, Vincent Ward's spec script would have had Ripley crashland on a "wooden planet", populated by a group of monks who would see her as a temptress and the alien as an incarnation of the devil. She would find Newt's tattered clothing at one point in the film, and it would climax with the final surviving monk giving Ripley CPR in order to drive the chestburster out of her body and into his, sacrificing himself in the process. The whole thing was heavily inspired by the works of Hieronymus Bosch and, if the concept art seen in the special edition DVD is any indication, it would have been a perfect storm of terror.
      • As far as the version of Alien³ we eventually got: The chestburster was also supposed to burst out of an ox (rather than a dog) to set up the idea the Alien takes on the traits of its host (as this Alien walks on all fours). However, the creature very obviously moves quickly like a dog, since it was played by a whippet in an alien costume. The scene was almost impossible to film from the front because the dog did not agree with having its face completely concealed with an alien mask, and it looked very silly. The 'Director's Cut' of the film included on more recent boxsets has the Alien bursting from an ox as originally intended. In either case, seeing the animal suffer makes for a very disturbing scene.
      • A whole ensemble of other barnyard animals were even planned, including an alien sheep covered in gore-matted wool.
  • Early drafts of the Alien: Resurrection script by Joss Whedon included an extended sequence where the survivors drive a jeep through the Auriga's garden complex while being attacked on all sides by xenomorphs, as well as a very different ending where Ripley and Call would battle the Newborn (a four-legged, eyeless derivative of the Alien Queen with pincers on the sides of its head) on a snowy mountain using a farm machine called the "Harvester", that was salvaged from the spaceship. Additionally, the original drafts included several more characters, and the characters who made it to the final were originally very different. Christie in the final film is a (watered-down) composite of the original Christie (tall calm black warrior guy) and a character called St. Just (hedonistic Asian fancy gunslinger). Hillard was older and tougher, and effectively became the leader of the crew of the Betty after Elgyn's death. There was also a rookie character on the Betty called Rane, and another USM soldier taken hostage with DiStephano. Vriess was more congenial, Call was less vulnerable, General Perez was much more badass and less of a ditz, and mostly significantly Ripley actually became more humanlike throughout the story to the point that she had no connection or sympathy toward the aliens by the end, unlike the finished film. Details can be found here
  • The planned Alien vs. Predator movie in the early 90's by writer Peter Briggs, which would have been much, much closer to the comic book. The script follows Machiko (the female warrior who hunts with the Predators) as she teams up with a group of humans at a futuristic outpost to stop a xenomorph. Briggs' script (written in 1991) made him a success story in the screenwriting world, but the story was jettisoned once 20th Century Fox head Joe Roth left the company in the 90's.
  • The Arcade Game Alien vs. Predator was believed to have been based on another film script in development. Considering that you take on an entire army of xenomorphs in the game, and one of the playable characters was a cyborg clone of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from the original Predator, this would have been a very interesting movie indeed.
  • Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem had several different scripts before the producers settled on one they wanted. Of note is an early treatment by Shane Salermo where the Predator ship crashes in Afghanistan, and a Special Forces team must stop the Predalien. Also of note is an early draft where the Predalien is killed off a few minutes into the film, Wolf would also be killed by two aliens. Another early concept for the film would have had the survivors taking on Aliens inside a Wal-Mart.
  • Prometheus:
    • Sketches in the "Making of" book showcase two stronger ties to the Alien franchise. Firstly, when Fifield returns as a mindless killing machine, having died while splashing in a pool of black goo which is seemingly the origin of all life on Earth and the Xenomorphs, he was originally meant to mutate into a more Xenomorph-like creature, with atrophied eyes and an elongated head. Additionally, early paintings show the "Deacon" proto-Xenomorph that emerges from the torso of the last Engineer at the end was meant to then leave the escape capsule and purposefully stride out towards the wrecked Engineer ship. Not unlike the original ending to Alien.
    • In the original script, instead of the Deacon alien, a Xenomorph over sixteen feet tall, the Ultramorph, was supposed emerge from the Engineer.

    Back To The Future Series 
  • There's an early script of Back to the Future that includes, among other things, a refrigerator used as the time machine, powered in part by Coca-Cola, and an atomic bomb fueling the trip back. The ending had 1955 Doc discovering the time traveler's power source, and 1985 being basically what 1950s people thought of as "the future" (foreshadowed by an earlier classroom scene in 1955). Except rock music didn't exist, so Marty had to reinvent it. And his dad was a boxer.
    • The refrigerator idea got scrapped because it was too expensive to make the atomic bomb explosion and Steven Spielberg was worried that kids would try to mimic the movie and end up stuck in their own fridges.
    • Sid Sheinberg, head of Universal, thought the name Back to the Future was ridiculous and that the first film should be called Spaceman from Pluto instead, named for the scene where Marty disguises himself as an alien and convinces his father to attend the school prom - George had a comic book called "Spaceman from Pluto" next to him, with the alien on the cover resembling Marty's radiation suit. Zemeckis didn't have the clout to say no to the studio like that. But he called up then-king of the world Steven Spielberg (the film's executive producer), who thanked the exec for the "joke memo" concerning the film's title. He was too proud to correct Spielberg on his "misconception," (or perhaps he recognized that Spielberg was offering him a chance to change his mind while saving face) and so the original title stayed.
  • Spielberg was always onboard to produce the film however he had produced other films with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale before, all of which flopped. Zemeckis and Gale offered Spielberg to opt out if he wanted and protect his reputation, of course he didn't and the rest is history.
  • John Lithgow was originally intended to be cast as Doc Brown, but was unavailable. The producer of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension then suggested Christopher Lloyd (who also starred alongside Lithgow in that movie). It's also worth noting that if Lloyd declined the role, the next person in line to be asked to play the part was Jeff Goldblum (who had also been in Buckaroo Banzai.)
  • And there's Eric Stoltz, who was hired to play Marty, and actually filmed scenes for a month or so before the producers reluctantly decided he just wasn't working in the role and they had to fire him. A deal was struck with the producers of Family Ties, and Michael J. Fox was brought in (who had been the original choice, but the show had meant he wasn't available).
    • When casting Marty during Fox's unavailability, they narrowed the choices down to Stoltz and C. Thomas Howell. Zemeckis and Gale preferred Howell, but the studio preferred Stoltz.
    • With Stoltz, Thomas Wilson was cast as Biff; J.J. Cohen was the original actor considered, but wasn't imposing enough compared to Stoltz. He ended up as Skinhead, one of Biff's goons.
    • Melora Hardin was originally cast as Jennifer opposite Stoltz's Marty. When Fox replaced Stoltz, they recast Jennifer as well, as Hardin was actually taller than Fox. (Unlike Stoltz, Hardin never actually filmed a scene.)
    • According to Bob Gale, Johnny Depp and John Cusack both auditioned to play Marty.
  • Originally, the last act of Back to the Future Part II, as detailed in the "Number Two" script, would have taken place in 1967. The idea in that draft was that Marty would have had to ensure that his parents went through with his conception. It was changed to 1955 when Robert Zemeckis realized how awesome it would be for it to happen concurrently with the climax of Part I, and also to prevent the need for new setpieces.
    • Once they went with the 1955 idea, it was considered to have Marty and the Delorean run on the same 1955 farmer again, still convinced that the car was an alien spaceship obviously, and get shot at by him. Thankfully, they discarded it for being too repetitive.
  • The producers tried to get Ronald Reagan (a well-known fan of the series) to play the mayor of 1885 Hill Valley in Part III, but his aides turned it down even though Reagan himself later said he would have been game for it.
  • A deleted scene shows Buford Tannen killing Sheriff Strickland in front of his son. It got cut not only because it was depressing, but also because it was so despicable that it wasn't right that Buford not die, and he can't because he has to live long enough to extend the Tannen family line (though why they couldn't have resolved this by simply establishing that he had already fathered a child is unclear). This is why Tannen is arrested in the end by Strickland's deputy and not Strickland himself, with the line "You're under arrest for the murder of Marshall Strickland" redubbed to "You're under arrest for robbing the Pine City Stage".
  • Had Crispin Glover signed on to the sequels, he would've played Seamus McFly, Marty's great-great-grandfather in Part III. Lea Thompson would've played a barmaid that falls in love with Seamus, and after Buford's defeat, Seamus would have offered him a job as a farmhand after his sentence.
  • Back to the Future Part II was originally supposed to have Doc and Marty go back to the Old West (which happened in Part III). However, the fans wanted to see what happened after Doc, Marty, and Jennifer traveled to the future at the end of the first film, so the filmmakers came up with the 2015 storyline.

    Batman 
  • Batman
    • The first draft of Sam Hamm's screenplay introduced Robin at the end of the second act. As Batman is chasing The Joker and his thugs on horseback through Gotham Park, the Joker blows up a fireworks truck near where the Graysons are performing their trapeze act. John and Mary Grayson are killed, and Dick lands on the Joker's van, receives a Diving Save from Batman, and, while Batman restrains him, screams his head off: "He killed my parents!" The idea was disliked by the production team, and it was quickly removed from the screenplay, though the pre-production storyboards for it can be seen on the official DVD set, with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill from the animated series reading the lines of their live-action counterparts.
    • Burton stated in an interview that he had initially wanted Adam West and Julie Newmar, from the 1960s series, to play Thomas and Martha Wayne in the flashback. Audiences would recognize West and Newmar from the series and see them get shot, symbolizing the "death" of the old, lighthearted Batman and the beginning of the more gritty, Darker and Edgier Batman. Script rewrites caused this to be scrapped, and West later said he wasn't even offered the role (and even if he was, he wouldn't have taken it).
    • The first draft had Knox and Vicki creating an improvised Bat Signal by taking a Batman costume out of a shop and draping the cape over a spotlight aimed at a large white Joker balloon, only for Knox to get shot to death by the Joker's goons shortly after.
    • Later drafts included a subplot in which the Joker took over a public ceremony, held Mayor Borg hostage (causing Borg to experience a Heroic B.S.O.D.), unveiled a statue of himself, and laced the Gotham City Police Department's coffee with a non-lethal poison (which would have explained why There Were No Police in the parade scene). The bit with the statue was retained in the novelization.
    • Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell and even Charlie Sheen were all said to have been considered for the role of Batman at one point or another, but Tim Burton insisted on casting Michael Keaton. When the film was still in a purely comedic frame, Bill Murray was said to be the studio's choice for Batman.
    • Had the producers been unwilling to give in to Jack Nicholson's excessive contractual demands, Burton's second choice for the Joker was Tim Curry. Willem Dafoe was also said to have been a candidate for the part of the Joker, which became Hilarious in Hindsight when he went on to play the Green Goblin in Spider-Man.
    • Before playing Catwoman in Batman Returns, Michelle Pfeiffer was the first choice to play Vicki Vale, but Keaton (who was dating Pfeiffer at the time) didn't think casting a real couple would work (and history has shown before and since then that this is true). Which worked out fine since as mentioned above she got to be Catwoman a few years later.
    • Sean Young was originally cast as Vicki, but she broke her arm after falling off a horse and had to drop out, leading to Kim Basinger taking her place. Young then tried unsuccessfully to land the role of Catwoman in Batman Returns, with unfortunate results for her career.
    • A much earlier script draft by Tom Mankiewicz had both the Penguin and Joker as villains (with Penguin referred to as "Mr. Boniface"), Robin joining Batman, and Silver St. Cloud as the love interest instead of Vicki Vale. This draft was rejected due to its length. Silver also had a less fortunate fate than Vicki, as she'd wind up dying at the end.
      • Mankiewicz's draft was also fucking insane. Due to wildly differing views on the direction of the script (Mankiewicz wanted a Campy take, while Michael Uslan wanted a Darker and Edgier movie similar to the original comics), the film was a tonal mess with tons of Mood Whiplash. This included the Flying Graysons being killed after being attacked by a falcon during a show, a young Bruce Wayne being a teenage genius/billionaire/NASCAR champ who corners the stock market with the power of McDonalds, and Batman killing Rupert Thorne by knocking him into a giant pencil sharpener.
    • The film was supposed to be a comedy at one point, playing off the camp and tongue-in-cheek tone of the old Adam West series. Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman was attached to direct, with Bill Murray (as mentioned above) and Eddie Murphy looked at to star as Batman and Robin.
    • According to Danny Elfman, when Tim Burton picked him to do the score, the producers and studio weren't keen on the idea, and at one point proposed a compromise that he collaborate on the score with Prince. Elfman briefly left the project over this, feeling the collaboration wouldn't work: Of course, ultimately both Elfman and Prince worked on music for the movie separately.
    • According to producer Jon Peters, the iconic "I'm Batman" line from the opening mugging scene was originally supposed to be "I'm Batman, motherfucker," but Warner made Peters remove the "motherfucker." In one draft, Batman instead said "I AM the night," a line that took more dialogue to set up than it was worth for the movie, although it did appear in the Comic-Book Adaptation.
    • The poison-filled parade balloons would have been made to look like popular cartoon characters from our own world - making for an even more blatant Shout-Out to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - rather than the generic characters (clown, baby, cat, octopus, elephant) they ended up being.
    • The prostitute who comes on to the little boy in the opening scene was originally going to be depicted as a 14-year-old girl(!) and also be shown chatting casually with a couple of cops, establishing right from the start just how corrupt the Gotham City police were.
  • Batman Returns
    • Robin was again planned, this time with Marlon Wayans being cast and fitted for wardrobe (and even had a prototype action figure made in his likeness) but production issues led to the character being scrapped a second time. The Robin action figure was released, but had its skintone painted to be Caucasian. Early script drafts had Robin as a juvenile delinquent who'd join Batman in the fight against Penguin, while later treatments had him as a young black garage mechanic who'd have the "R" symbol worn on his work coverall. It was Daniel Waters' decision to remove Robin, as the film would have too many characters and he felt Robin was the least worthwhile.
    • The character of Max Schreck was originally written as Harvey Dent in the earliest drafts (Billy Dee Williams reprising his role from the first film). The film would've ended on a cliffhanger, with the explosion that killed Schreck only scarring Dent, leading to Two-Face being the villain for the sequel.
    • After Max Schreck was created for later drafts, he was initially planned to have been the long-lost brother of the Penguin.
    • Annette Bening was originally cast as Catwoman, but had to drop out of production due to her pregnancy.
    • Dustin Hoffman had expressed interest in playing the Penguin; it was Jack Nicholson who suggested to Burton that he cast Danny DeVito, whom Nicholson had recently worked with on Hoffa.
    • The pre-Catwoman Selina was originally going to have characteristics of The Ditz, such as being more worried about the heel breaking off one of her shoes than getting tasered when the clown takes her hostage during the plaza riot.
    • Batman Returns originally included a montage of the sons of Gotham's wealthiest families being kidnapped for the Penguin's mass murder plot, with one of the little boys screaming. Tim Burton, who knew that many children would be going to see the movie, decided not to take any unnecessary risks and just showed the boys after their kidnappings, being locked in the cages of a circus train.
    • The Red Triangle Circus Gang was originally going to be much larger and a good deal more grotesque, with actual freaks (a bearded lady, midgets, etc.) in addition to the Penguin himself, cyberpunk thugs with metal-studded heads who probably would have dated the movie a great deal, and (in place of the Organ Grinder) a ringmaster with poison-tipped gauntlet gloves serving as The Dragon.
    • The Shrecks came off as Ambiguously Jewish in the script, with Max using words such as "goniffs" and "schmuck." These were probably cut because the filmmakers worried that moviegoers outside of New York wouldn't have a clue what Max was saying.
    • Before going after his father, Catwoman murders Chip Shreck...with quicksand kitty litter.
    • Mayor Jenkins is a stereotypical narcissistic Jerkass politician in the original script, rather than the well-meaning but impotent leader he became.
    • The Ice Princess came very close to being portrayed as an Alpha Bitch before last-minute changes made her character (somewhat) more sympathetic.
  • Batman Forever
    • Joel Schumacher's original version was much more in-line with the dark tone of the first two (with plans of later treatments proving even darker!), but Executive Meddling at WB saw severe cuts to make it more kid- and family-friendly. Several cut scenes show that Two-Face was a much more violent character (during the opening sequence, the Arkham doctor finds a Bound and Gagged guard, along with a message, "The Bat Must Die," scrawled in blood on the wall), longer fight sequences and a subplot where Bruce gains his memory back after entering a subsection of the Batcave and confronting a giant human-sized bat. (This may also have involved finding a missing page in his dad's journal and realising it hadn't been his idea to go to the movies that night; he'd been blaming himself for his parents' death.)
    • Robin Williams was Tim Burton's first choice to play the Riddler. However, after Burton was removed from the director's chair, the executives passed on Williams in favor of Jim Carrey. Micky Dolenz had also been considered early on.
    • One of the ideas floated around in very early drafts (stretching back to Burton's prior involvement) was that Bruce would be searching the black market throughout the movie for pieces of the damaged Batwing from the original film, and that the sequence where Batman and Robin storm Riddler's island was intended to be the triumphant return of the aircraft.
    • Rene Russo was initially cast for Chase Meridian while Michael Keaton was still attached to play, but Nicole Kidman was cast instead after Keaton left and Val Kilmer took over. It was felt that Russo would be a little "too old" to act alongside Val Kilmer.
    • Billy Dee Williams was again set to play Two-Face, but was bought out of his contract and replaced with Tommy Lee Jones. A similar deal happened with Marlon Wayans, who was paid off so they could cast Chris O' Donnell in the role.
    • Leonardo DiCaprio was also in consideration to play Robin, but lost out to O'Donnell.
    • There was talk of releasing Schumacher's original cut of Forever to DVD for 2005 (its tenth anniversary), but in the end only the theatrical cut was released, with only a few rough edits of deleted scenes included as extras.
    • Two-Face's henchwomen were originally named "Lace" and "Leather", but at some point in production Schumacher was asked by WB executives to change their names to something more child-friendly, as McDonalds wanted to have toys of them in their Batman Happy Meal line. In the end, they were renamed "Sugar" and "Spice". You'll notice, however, that they're still wearing the underwear their respective names were to suggest.
    • When Dick Grayson steals the Batmobile for a joyride, he saves the girl in the alley from only two, standard tough-guy biker goons, rather than a horde of face-painted voodoo weirdoes. Batman does not need to rescue him, and instead of kissing the girl he just coolly walks off while the girl calls after him, "Call me!" (This version of events was depicted in the comic adaptation.)
    • A cut comic-relief scene showed the Riddler and Two-Face sucking up knowledge through "The Box" and implied to have become addicted to it, until they start acting like stereotypical stoned hippies, with Two-Face discovering that "Jim Morrison was right...about everything."
    • H. R. Giger was hired to design a new X-shaped Batmobile for the movie, but his creation was rejected for being too "out there". Which is probably for the best, since in the grand Giger tradition, it kinda looked like a big vagina.
  • Batman & Robin
    • Julie Madison was originally killed by Poison Ivy, explaining why Batgirl later flinches when Ivy pulls out a switchblade.
    • Barbara Wilson was not actually Alfred's niece in earlier drafts, but instead the daughter of his childhood friend. She would still consider him an "uncle".
    • Early costume tests had the Batgirl suit with a full-head cowl, but Schumacher didn't like the look of it as Alicia Silverstone's hair wouldn't flow freely. The early costume design was used for the action figures.
    • Had Arnold Schwarzenegger passed on playing Mister Freeze , Schumacher's second choice was Sylvester Stallone. His third choice? Hulk Hogan.
    • And even more puns, these actually more terrible than the ones that did make it in. Examples included Mr. Freeze's "No gun. How disarming" and Batman's "Don't sink and drive" (when a snowmobile driven by Freeze's goons plunges through an icy lake).
    • There were several aborted sequel projects between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins, including:
      • Batman Unchained written by Mark Protosevich (often called Batman Triumphant, though Protosevich is not sure why), which would have had the duo fighting against Scarecrow and Harley Quinn (who, in this script, was the Joker's daughter), with Jack Nicholson returning as the Joker via Fear Toxin-induced hallucinations. Although Schumacher wanted to direct it, George Clooney's remarks about never playing the character again (along with the dismal box office) resulted in the project's eventual cancellation in 1998.
      • DarKnight, the second plan for a sequel to B&R that had Bruce in self-imposed seclusion while Dick attends Gotham University. The villains would have been Jonathan Crane (pre-Scarecrow) and Man-Bat with talk of Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd in the respective roles. Schumacher was attached to direct, but plans were eventually scrapped.
      • A solo Nightwing movie starring Chris O'Donnell was planned, but the film was scrapped immediately after the negative reviews for Batman and Robin started pouring in.
  • Darren Aronofsky's attempted reboot, Year One, would have been a much, much stranger take on the Bat-mythos than the eventual Batman Begins. In Aronofsky's script (which was very loosely inspired by Batman: Year One), the story revolves around Bruce Wayne writing letters to his dead father. Oh, and Wayne is a homeless psychopath whose only friends are a pair of mechanics named Big Al and Little Al. After he starts his crimefighting career by attempting to take on a corrupt police captain at a brothel (and gets royally schooled by the madam at the brothel, who will turn out to be Catwoman), he elects to start beating up low-level thugs (one scene has him cook up a homemade bomb after he's trapped in a men's washroom at a club by a group of thugs, and then systematically take out the now on-fire thugs one by one). He then creates his Batman disguise and enlists the help of Jim Gordon, who is one of the only two honest cops on the entire police force (and a cheating womanizer). The script's finale has Gordon and Batman taking on Commissioner Loeb, who is revealed to be the corrupt mastermind behind most of the city's underworld dealings. Loeb kidnaps Gordon's wife, Barbara, and Batman stops him. By throwing a knife into his eye. The script ends with Wayne and the two mechanics moving into Wayne Manor. As Batman-On-Film.com put it, "there was simply no way Warner Bros. was going to greenlight this script, as it would have been impossible to market it to the 'Average Joe' movie audience". Frank Miller, who worked on the script with Aronofsky, offered a similar explanation for why the script wasn't picked up, saying that the executives had no interest in a Batman film that couldn't sell toys or be seen by children.
  • Josh Hartnett was nearly cast as the lead in Batman Begins, but turned it down because he didn't want to be typecast or known for superhero roles. He's since said this is one of the biggest regrets of his career, as the gig ended up doing wonders for Christian Bale.
  • Christopher Nolan's original intention for the third installment of The Dark Knight Saga was for The Joker to stand trial for his crimes, continuing the story from The Dark Knight. Author Existence Failure ensued when the actor who portrayed the Joker died, however, which led to Nolan choosing to go in a different direction that continued Batman's fight against the League of Shadow's attempts to destroy Gotham (as he did in the first installment), with Bane in particular as the main antagonist. This film would eventually become The Dark Knight Rises, serving as the final installment to the film trilogy.
    • There's been some confusion over this, but what actually happened is that the plot of The Dark Knight was originally going to be stretched out over two films. Harvey Dent was not supposed to become Two-Face until the third movie, which would have focused on him prosecuting the Joker in the trial mentioned above. At the time, Christopher Nolan wasn't sure he was wanted to direct a third Batman movie, so he decided to combine the plots for the second and third films into a single movie, which is how we got The Dark Knight. While it is likely that Heath Ledger would have appeared in The Dark Knight Rises in some capacity (much like Cillian Murphy) had he not died, the whole trial plot had already been scrapped before his tragic death.
  • There were several plans to have a Batman-Superman crossover film, with either the both of them teaming up or going against each other. I Am Legend contains a Shout-Out to this, with a large film poster bearing a Batman-Superman logo displayed in Times Square. It was finally greenlit in 2013, with Zack Snyder attached as director to the project.
  • A Batman Beyond live-action film was planned, with Boaz Yakin attached as director and Paul Dini having written the screenplay. It didn't get far at all.

    The Chronicles Of Riddick Series 
  • Pitch Black:
    • First of all, this developed from Twohy's unused idea for Alien³. Had Vincent Ward not been brought and decided that the space prison idea was awful there would have not been a Riddick series.
    • The film was originally titled Nightfall and about a female outlaw named Tara Krieg with tribal tattoos and enhancements from her interstellar tribe of barbarians. Imam was named Noah Toth a member of a technology-based version of Christianity and he had no pilgrims, there was no eclipse, only a two-month day and two-month night, there was no geologist's outpost, only ancient ruins and instead of aliens the villains were the ghosts of the creatures who built the ruins trying to defend their homeworld. There was no escape ship, but a distress beacon, and Tara, Carolyn Fry, Jack, Noah Toth (Imam) and Paris were all supposed to make it off the alien world, called "Hades" instead of M6-117. Johns' morphine addiction, the cannon-fodder teens, the solar orrery and the geologist's camp were added by David Twohy.
    • David Twohy's original draft was different, too. Riddick died at the end instead of Carolyn Fry, There were extended scenes of the boneyard creatures, still alive, as well as them being killed and eaten by the other creatures. Paris and Johns would've survived until the third act, underground, which would've explained the planet's climate and temperature changes, the way the star-system worked, and the life-cycle of the creatures along with an entire underground ecosystem of Starfish Aliens.
  • Sequels:
    • Numerous versions of these floated around for a while, too. The original script involved Riddick fighting the hammerheaded creatures in the underground of a city planet for entertainment. He is captured by a merc named "Big Foe" (Who turns out, in the third act, to be Jack from Pitch Black) and brought back to the planet only to find that the creatures were sentient and wanted revenge on Riddick as dictated by the evil god they worshiped. Akiva Goldsman's script was about Riddick and Kyra (Jack) hijacking a prison satellite and landing it on a living planet, which launched various creatures made from elements such as air, fire, wind and water at them to try and stop them before trying to kill them with a giant storm. David Hayter wrote a prequel about Riddick, growing up and being drafted into a war where he'd get blamed for his entire platoon's death (by Johns, whose callousness was actually to blame). This would result in the huge payday on his head and the many encounters with Johns, some good, some bad, and many lost loves and lost friends that rendered him the cold, heartless monster he was at the beginning of Pitch Black.
    • In addition, the sequel we got — The Chronicles of Riddick — could've been directed by Guillermo del Toro or David Cronenberg, with rumors of Alex Proyas, John Landis and Peter Jackson. WOW...

    Die Hard Series 
Every installment of the Die Hard franchise, except Die Hard 2 and A Good Day to Die Hard, began life as a completely different project and/or a standalone film that was reworked to fit the series.
  • Die Hard:
    • The original film started life as Nothing Lasts Forever, a sequel to Commando, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was intended to appear as John Matrix once again. Director John McTiernan got a hold of the script and apparently thought it was a "nasty piece of work", and reworked it several times to remove overly violent elements, including the main character going around and shooting female hostages without much regret. By that time, Schwarzenegger dropped out, and the character was reworked into an "everyman" cop who's having a bad day.
    • In fact, the novel "Nothing Lasts Forever" was itself a sequel, to the book "The Detective." "The Detective" was made into a movie starring Frank Sinatra, and the plan was to adapt "Nothing Lasts Forver" into a movie at the time it was written, but by then Sinatra had grown tired of acting, and that project was scrapped. 20th Century Fox kept the rights, and years later, producer Joel Silver came across the story while looking for projects that the studio already owned the rights to.
  • Die Hard with a Vengeance:
    • The story was adapted from a script called Simon Says, which was briefly intended to be the third film in the Lethal Weapon series. According to various accounts, the script included a character that would have been played by the late Brandon Lee, and the character of Zeus was intended to be a woman.
    • Two earlier (and rejected) scripts for Vengeance had McClane trying to stop terrorists who've seized control of a cruise ship (which was abandoned after Under Siege went into production) and one where terrorists try to take control of the Los Angeles subway system.
    • Laurence Fishburne was originally intended to play Zeus, but backed out. He had second thoughts and tried to get the part again, but Samuel L. Jackson was cast by that time.
    • The original ending of the film was a sequence where McClane tracks down Simon Gruber in Eastern Europe, and reveals to him that he was thrown off the NYPD because the police thought he was involved with the heist. McClane then challenges Simon to a game of Russian Roulette using a rocket launcher, which results in Simon eventually killing himself by pulling the trigger. The scene was supposed to show that McClane had gone over the edge and lost everything, but was never used in the film (it appears on most DVD copies as a deleted scene).
  • Live Free or Die Hard has the dubious honor of having the longest development time of the series. It took close to a decade to get the project off the ground:
    • The first proposed script was called "Tears of the Sun", which the director and Willis apparently hated. Willis repurposed the name "Tears of the Sun" for another project he would eventually star in.
    • There was rumors about taking the idea (specially the location) from the Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas videogame, but instead of a prison riot having just a group of mobs trying to steal some sort of general underground safe from the main casinos, and McClane just passing by one of the casinos, thus evoking the general idea from the first movie. They also thought about taking to the screen the script from the Die Hard: Vendetta videogame, in fact the concept of McClane´s daughter Lucy and her kidnapping latter developed in the actual movie.
    • In 2001, there were plans to make the project a sequel to Enemy of the State (written by the same screenwriter, and based on a non-fiction article called "A Farewell To Arms" from Wired Magazine) called WW3.com, before it was repurposed as a Die Hard film. The September 11th attacks stalled all development on that front, as Fox believed they couldn't go forward with a script about America being under attack.
    • An early script treatment revolved around McClane's son, Jack, who would have been the computer hacker John had to bring to the FBI. This was later reworked to include a new hacker character, with McClane's child being changed to his daughter, Lucy (the idea about his son Jack was later implemented in the sequel A Good Day to Die Hard)
    • Jessica Simpson auditioned for the role of Lucy. Justin Timberlake expressed interest in the (scrapped) role of Jack. Think about that for a second.

    Dirty Harry Series 
  • Dirty Harry
    • Frank Sinatra was offered the role of Harry, but broke his wrist before filming could start and had to drop out.
    • John Wayne lobbied for the role of Harry, but the studio felt he was too old for the role.
    • Burt Lancaster was reportedly offered the role of Harry but turned it down because he found the script offensive and promoted a less than liberal approach to law enforcement.
    • Audie Murphy was offered the role of the Scorpio Killer, but felt it would scar younger fans of his films and was considering turning it down when his plane crashed.

     The Godfather Series 
  • The Godfather:
    • Laurence Olivier and Ernest Borgnine had both been suggested for Don Vito. Burt Lancaster was also said to have been a candidate for Don Vito.
    • Robert DeNiro tested (quite well) for Sonny, but Coppola felt his portrayal was too cold-blooded to be appealing.
    • DeNiro was almost given the role of Paulie (which ended up being played by Johnny Martino). This would have put DeNiro in the first film but would have made it impossible to cast him as young Vito in the second film.
    • The studio wanted Robert Redford or Ryan O'Neal as Michael. Martin Sheen also tested.
    • Robert Evans, the producer, initially demanded that Coppola deliver a 135 minute cut. Coppola, who'd edited the film to more-or-less the extant version, begrudgingly complied, only to be chewed out by Evans for "ruining the film."
  • The Godfather Part II:
    • Richard Castellano insisted on having his girlfriend write his dialogue for II, and so was written out. His participation would have meant it was Clemenza who sold Michael out to the government instead of the new character Frankie Pentangeli. Pentangeli was an awesome character and Michael Gazzo's Oscar nomination was well-deserved, but the revised storyline had less emotional heft.
    • Some of Coppola's friends (including George Lucas) told him that switching back and forth between Michael and Young Vito was too jarring, and to just stick with Michael's storyline.
  • The Godfather Part III:
    • What if the studio and Robert Duvall had reached a salary agreement for III, thus enabling Coppola's vision of Michael and Tom as adversaries?
    • Winona Ryder was set to play Mary, but begged off due to exhaustion.
    • Coppola and Mario Puzo wanted six months to write the film, the studio instead gave them only six weeks.
  • If Mario Puzo had lived long enough, he and Coppola would've made their proposed Part IV, which would have concluded the entire saga. (After Puzo's 1999 death, Coppola lost any interest in continuing the franchise). The film as hypothesized by Coppola and Puzo with have followed two parallel plots like Part II, one following Vito during the family's peak years during Prohibition and the other following Vincent involving the family in the drug trade and eventually getting killed off in a manner similar to Pablo Escobar. Andy Garcia is still interested in doing this film, which would have centered around his character.

     Godzilla Series 
  • Bagan. Just Bagan. Where do you begin with him?:
    • His concept first appeared in an early version of The Return Of Godzilla, which would have him fight Godzilla as THREE monsters that could shape-shift individually and would merge together at the film's climax.
    • The scrapped Mothra vs. Bagan movie gave Bagan his recognizable appearance and the plot of it sounded EXTREMELY similar to that of Rebirth Of Mothra. In this scrapped idea, Bagan could FLY.
    • Godzilla vs. Bagan, a film that was to based on the video game, Super Godzilla. It was going to feature Gotengo and even Godzilla turning into SUPER GODZILLA!
      • On a side note, the basic design for Super Godzilla was recycled as Spacegodzilla.
    • Bagan was also considered for the video game, Godzilla: Unleashed. However, he was replaced by Varan in the planning phase due to Simon Strange preferring Varan over Bagan, simply for Varan's design.
  • Before the Godzilla (1998) film, a 1994 Godzilla film was planned:
    • The film was originally going to have Godzilla fight against a giant monster named the Gryphon and have special effects done by none other than Stan Winston Studios. The concept of the Gryphon has some What Could Have Beens of its own:
      • A lie that has been circulating was that the reason the Gryphon never manifested was because Toho veto'd the idea, and proposed Mothra and King Ghidorah instead. Both were turned down because they were extremely expensive. The real reason was actually worse.
      • The real season is that Sony’s executives disagreed about the budget and caused the would be director Jan De Bont to drop out. There were several attempts to re-negotiate, and get a director, Tri-Star brought in Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. The condition they agreed to direct was that they would rewrite the entire thing however they wanted, and we all know how that went. The even sadder irony is that the budget went way over the budget Sony didn’t agree on, meaning that the whole screw up was really meaningless.
      • The Gryphon started out as a monster with the features of a cougar, cow and bat; and Godzilla's origins would be that he was a bioweapon made by an ancient civilization to fight off the Gryphon. Gryphon ended up becoming an alien creature that would have used the DNA of cougars, horses and bats (as well as snakes for its tongues) to construct a body for itself, killed the script's main villain and ultimately was killed by Godzilla after giving him hell in battle. Compare this script, Godzilla 1994, to the final film, Godzilla (1998), which was far, far less cool.
  • Godzilla (1998):
    • The film was going to be much closer in feel to the Toho versions, but it clashed too harshly with the director's imagining of the lizard in a more realistic light (for instance, Godzilla looked and moved more like his Toho counterpart, but he looked too much like a man in a rubber suit and broke the suspension of disbelief the director was going for).
    • Additionally, the film was originally going to be given a sequel as well. It involved Nick raising and nurturing the Baby Godzilla (from the ending) into being in adult, who in turn lays a litter of his own babies. All while trying to balance out know to protect Godzilla and his babies from the world and vice versa, while a swarm of insectoid monsters begin attacking. The concept of Nuck raising Baby Godzilla became the basis for the animated series following the movie, which was MUCH better received due to being closer to the original films.
  • Gunhed was originally written as a Godzilla movie!
  • Originally, Shusuke Kaneko, the director of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! wanted to use Varan and Anguirus for the movie. However, the executives at Toho made him use Mothra and Ghidorah instead since they were more popular monsters, and Toho was playing it safe after Godzilla vs. Megaguirus received mediocore reviews.
    • Additionally, Kaneko's other ideas for a Godzilla film included him fighting a mutated astronaut known as "M" and a separate one where he fights Kamacuras as Kaneko wanted to experiment with a CGI version of the giant mantis.
  • One idea for a Godzilla film in the 1990s was to have Godzilla fight a ghost version of the 1954 Godzilla. The idea was to have the '54 Godzilla win and was also slated to feature Godzilla Junior and Anguirus (concept art was even commissioned to try and design a "Heisei series version" of the character). However, since Godzilla already fought against two Godzilla-like monsters (Mechagodzilla and Spacegodzilla) Toho decided to use the Oxygen Destroyer concept instead to bring the franchise full circle, and thus Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was created.
  • Frankenstein has quite a history with Godzilla for several what-if ideas:
    • "King Kong vs Frankenstein" was the kicker but the idea as Universal owned the rights to Frankenstein's Monster, instead the matchup shifted to Kong fighting a character named "Prometheus" but again went nowhere. Ultimately once Willis O'Brien and John Beck got a hold of Toho with the idea, King Kong vs. Godzilla was born.
    • Toho was also interested in using Frankenstein for a potential "Frankenstein vs. Godzilla" movie but work on King Kong vs. Godzilla eventually caused the idea to be split into two separate projects: Frankenstein Conquers The World and Mothra vs. Godzilla.
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla's success also had a few ideas that didn't come to fruition due to Rights costs or other reasons.
    • A direct sequel called Continuation: King Kong vs. Godzilla was announced but never evolved past the proposal stage.
    • You remember Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster? King Kong was originally going to be the star monster instead of Godzilla. This is also evident by most of Kong's mannerisms being recycled into Godzilla's personality in the film, namely Godzilla's odd fascination with Dayo.
    • A remake of King Kong vs. Godzilla was planned for the Heisei Godzilla series (to coincide with Toho's 60th anniversary) but didn't happen because Turner Entertainment wouldn't let Toho use Kong. Reportedly, Anguirus had also been considered to be in it as well. Whatever the case, the film eventually evolved into Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah
    • A movie featuring Mechani-Kong fighting Godzilla while a team of scientists get injected into Godzilla's body also didn't happen due to Mechani-Kong's "striking resemblence."
  • An early draft of what would become Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. Gigamoth, sound INSANELY interesting.
  • Godzilla vs. Gigan originally had two different scripts that were eventually heavily rewritten:
    • The first draft was focused heavily on King Ghidorah and had the evil dragon team up with Gigan and a Red Dragon known as "Mogu". They were going to fight the team of Godzilla, Rodan, and Varan. In this draft, Gigan had a ball-and-chain for one hand.
    • The second draft was closer to what the film wound up becoming introduced the Space Hunter Nebula-M Aliens and the concept of Gigan teaming up with Ghidorah, as well as Godzilla and Anguirus as a tag-team. The only differences was that Megalon was also introduced to team up with Gigan and Ghidorah and a deity named "Majin-Tuol" teaming up with Godzilla and Anguirus.
  • Biollante's rose form in Godzilla vs. Biollante was at one point replaced by a fish-rat creature named Deutalios, whom Godzilla was going to kill and then eat. This was cut due to its graphic nature.
  • Godzilla vs. Redmoon would have been a film by Tsuburaya Productions (of Ultraman fame), in which Godzilla fights a family of monsters. It was scrapped for unknown reasons, and Tsuburaya eventually transformed the film into the very bizarre Daigoro Vs Goliath.
  • Godzilla vs. Hedorah... In Africa.
    • Additionally, Godzilla was originally going to fight a Mutant Starfish as a sequel to Godzilla vs. Hedorah
  • Godzilla Raids Again was released in the US in an edited form as Gigantis: The Fire Monster. However, the original idea for the movie's US distribution was even more radical. Godzilla Raids Again would've been "remade" into a completely different film known as The Volcano Monsters by AB-PT Pictures. Godzilla and Anguirus would've been referred to as simply a giant T-rex and Ankylosaurus, the monsters would've attacked San Francisco instead of Osaka, and every scene with a Japanese actor would've been cut (along with everything else that the later Gigantis dub cut as well). Toho even lent their suits to AB-PT, since they were desperately trying to market their films to the US in any way they can at the time (even if it involved massive editing). Before the project could come to fruition, however, AB-PT Pictures closed shop. The result? The Volcano Monsters (along with several other films they were developing) never saw a release, the two monster suits that Toho lent went missing, and what we got instead was the Gigantis: The Fire Monster release by Warner Bros.
  • It is believed that Henry G. Saperstein had approached Toho about making a movie with Godzilla fighting one or more Gargantuas. Sadly, the concept went nowhere.
  • Remember Kamoebas' corpse appearing in Godzilla Tokyo SOS? Well, that was originally going to be Anguirus! However, the producers did not like the idea of Godzilla's closest ally appearing dead from a battle with Godziila, so the next idea was a giant mosasaur, which also got cut because Toho felt it would be useless to introduce a new monster and have it only appear as a corpse. Kamoebas was used instead to placate Anguirus fans and deliver a stealth Take That towards Gamera.
  • Destroy All Monsters. Beyond the intention of being the last Godzilla movie, many other monsters were intended to appear but never made the final cut like Gaira the Green Gargantua, Maguma the giant walrus from Gorath, and Ebirah. Baragon and Varan were also intended to have larger roles, but the former suit had been damaged badly from usage in Ultraman and the latter suit hadn't been used in years, so it was replaced with a motionless prop for a few shots. Amusingly, the dub refers Gorosaurus as Baragon because the scene of Paris' destruction by a tunneling Gorosaurus originally called for Baragon.
  • A number of fans are still baffled by Anguirus burrowing about in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla despite never displaying it before. Well, that's because they originally wanted to have Baragon appear instead. It was changed as Baragon's suit (once again) was not readily usable. Compare to the Gorosaurus example from Destroy All Monsters above.
    • An earlier draft for the film had Godzilla, Anguirus, and Mothra teaming up to fight aliens called the Garugans. Mothra was replaced with the new King Caesar and the Garugans became the Black Hole Aliens and Mechagodzilla.
  • 1993's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II was to be directed by Ishiro Honda, but he died earlier that year. Likewise, it was intended to be the final Heisei film with the intended 1994 Tristar film taking over. To that end, the original ending involved Mechagodzilla successfully killing Godzilla, only for Baby Godzilla to grow to full Godzilla size. The new Godzilla would then star in the 1994 Tristar film. Since that never came into fruition, Toho got back to work with Godzilla Vs Spacegodzilla the following year.
    • Rodan's role in the film was originally going to be given to Titanosaurus.
  • Moguera's role in Godzilla Vs Spacegodzilla was originally intended for Mechagodzilla (rebuilt after the event of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. However, the producers came to the realization that the film had too many Godzillas (Godzilla, Little Godzilla, Spacegodzilla...), so Mechagodzilla was switched out in favour of a more obscure Toho giant robot.
  • Mothra vs. Godzilla was drastically different than what we got with the movie released in 1964. Godzilla was intended to have a bigger role. He was intended to have washed ashore and be a tourist attraction instead of Mothra's Egg, and upon awakening, was to attack the Country of Rolisica, instead of Nagoya. There were no Mothra Larva at all in the movie, only the Imago Mothra, who would've fought with Godzilla at the film's climax and won.
  • In what can be considered a very tragically missed opportunity as of 1998, famed Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was a big fan of the Godzilla franchise, and wanted to direct his own installment of the series. Unfortunately, Toho turned him down, fearing the enormous budget that his epic style of filmmaking would require.
  • Godzilla (2014):
    • It was rumoured that Guillermo del Toro was approached by Legendary Pictures to direct, though these rumours have since been debunked. Considering that the man has worked on a similar project... What Could Have Been, indeed.
    • The project started off in 2004, in the months before the release of Godzilla Final Wars, as an IMAX 3D short film remake of Godzilla vs. Hedorah tentatively called Godzilla 3D to the Max that even had Yoshimitsu Banno as director at the time. Over the course of 2007-2009, the project eventually morphed into a feature-length film under the aegis of Legendary Pictures.
    • Godzilla was originally planned to be found preserved in a Siberian glacier, like in the script for Godzilla 1994. This was changed when the film team heard that Man of Steel had a very similar scene with the discovery of the Fortress of Solitude, in a case of pre-production Derivative Differentiation.
    • The trailer with Oppenheimer speaking featured a few scenes of destruction cut and showed a huge, multi-armed woodlouse kaiju, apparently dead. It's not seen in the movie. Fans commonly refer to this monster as "Vishnu", due to Robert Oppenheimer's famous Destroyer of Worlds speech playing in the background.
    • The "Art of Destruction" book included concept art of a dogfight between the Male MUTO and some fighter jets.
    • It also included an idea of the original script which was that the Male MUTO was presumably killed during the Hawaii fight but was actually cocooning and growing wings.
    • The cinematographers originally planned for the scene with Joe Brody's interrogation and outburst at the MONARCH facility to be shot using several elaborate camera angles and cuts. Bryan Cranston did such a good job with the first rehearsal take that they decided to just use that one and scrap their previous plans.
    • There were apparently several attempts to keep Joe Brody alive in the script.
  • The original 1954 movie Gojira also went through many changes while it was in development. For one thing, Godzilla was originally going to be portrayed by using stop-motion animation. However, due to time and budget constraints, Toho Studios opted to instead use the now-famous art of suitimation with stunt actor Haruo Nakajima wearing a Godzilla-suit and destroying model buildings.
    • Godzilla himself was originally going to be a fire-breathing ape (as an homage to King Kong). It wasn't until producers watched The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms that they decided to settle on making him a radioactive dinosaur. Only one major aspect of this scrapped idea was kept for the final version. The monster's name was kept "Gojira" (a combonation of the words "Gorilla" and "Kujira" (Japanese for "whale") because executives at Toho simply liked the way it sounds and because they felt it perfectly described something large and powerful.
  • A VERY psychedelic story known as "A Space Godzilla" (and no, not that SpaceGodzilla) was written in 1979 by Katsuhiro Otomo (a.k.a. - The writer and director of AKIRA!) and was even proposed to Toho as a possible film (allegedly to be done with Stop Motion!). It details about a female alien that resembles Godzilla dying of diabetes and its Alien Son (which also resembles Godzilla) traversing the universe, reuniting with its Alien Godzilla father, and ultimately becoming one with the Cosmos, all while being told in a style similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Godzilla Final Wars had a number of scrapped elements and kaiju, such as Gorosaurus (replaced by Zilla) and Kiryu (replaced by the Gotengo). Concept designs for Godzilla also looked radically different to any incarnation of the character, and looked like snakes with arms and legs than anything else. Another scrapped design looked like the KiryuGoji suit, but with red eyes, a Biollante-like chest pattern and a spiky skin texture, and one model design looked so radically different from the normal Godzilla design that it was hard to even see it as Godzilla. Additionally, Anguirus, Rodan and King Shisa /King Ceasar were supposed to be killed, but the fact that the scene would require them to destroy the suits (which were going to be used for publicity shots and promotions), as well as the fact all three were allies of Godzilla's in the 60s and 70s, caused them to scrap it.
  • An American Godzilla movie was planned as far back as 1983 and would have been in 3-D. The plot would have been similar to Gorgo as Godzilla would destroy San Francisco in search of his son, not knowing that his son was killed by a Soviet submarine and the corpse was undergoing scientific analysis. Because no studio wanted to spend millions on a "kiddie picture", the film was scrapped along with a potential Rodan remake, although Toho really liked the concept.
  • Actual film idea: Batman Vs. Godzilla. Supposedly, some of the concepts from the film were recycled in Son of Godzilla. It's probably interesting to note the idea came around not too long after the famous 60s Batman show debuted.

    Harry Potter Series 
  • Warner Bros. outright refused Terry Gilliam for the first Harry Potter film (in person, even); he was bitter about being rejected. But he's since got over it.
  • Steven Spielberg was attached to direct really early on. He wanted to make the film as an All-CGI Cartoon with Haley Joel Osment providing Harry's voice. Of course, Haley Joel Osment violated Rowling's stipulation that the cast be kept British and she also didn't like the idea of it being animated. Eventually, Spielberg left on his own, feeling that it would be like "shooting ducks in a barrel. It's just a slam-dunk. It's just like withdrawing a billion dollars and putting it into your personal bank accounts. There's no challenge."
  • Another person asked to direct the first film? Baz Luhrmann.
  • As for Chris Columbus' Harry Potter, the original costume test had him dressed as he was on Mary GrandPre's cover illustration for the first book, with a striped rugby shirt, jeans and sneakers under his robe. This looked "like a kid in a Halloween costume", hence the standard-issue modern British Muggle school uniforms under the robes at Hogwarts.
  • Warner Bros wanted Hugh Grant to play Gilderoy Lockhart. Kenneth Branagh, who eventually did play Lockhart, was later considered as director for the third film. Had he been used, he would have directed his ex-wife Emma Thompson.
  • One of Alfonso Cuarón's more bizarre ideas involved a scene with a pipe organ being played by tiny people jumping on the keyboard. Rowling rejected it, saying it wouldn't make sense in her universe.
  • Guillermo del Toro was offered both Prisoner of Azkaban (which his friend Cuarón ended up directing) and Half-Blood Prince. The really sad part? He WANTED to direct them but felt that the movie's 'verse didn't conform to his more twisted vision of the books. He even expressed interest in directing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but was concerned Warner Bros. would try to interfere too much.
  • Originally, the Trio was supposed to watch the execution of Buckbeak from a graveyard. Rowling rejected this because she envisioned the Hogwarts graveyard being in a different part of the grounds and said it would become significant in the sixth book. Therefore, the graveyard got changed to the giant sundial you see in the final film.
  • After Richard Harris died, Ian McKellen was approached to play Dumbledore. He turned it down, having already filled his quota of bearded wizards from books being made into big budget films. Instead, the fans get treated to somewhat different performances by Michael Gambon.
    • By McKellen's account, Harris had previously criticized his acting, calling him "dreadful" and "passionless." As such, McKellen feels it would have been inappropriate to take his role, and goes on to say, "Richard Harris was mainly a disappointed man because I had played Gandalf and he had to settle for Dumblewit. Or Dumblebore, I should say." He further says, when asked who would win in a fight between the two, "Gandalf, of course."
    • Harris' family wanted Peter O'Toole to take up the role, as he was one of Harris' best friends. The studio decided against it, fearing the similarly elderly actor might also die before the series was out. note 
  • In the early stages of production on the second film, concept art was drawn for the Deathday Party scene. On the fourth film, concept art was drawn of Winky the Elf.
  • Prior to the first film, Rosie O'Donnell campaigned for the role of Molly Weasley. Of course, she was turned down as per Rowling's insistence on an all British cast.
  • Jarvis Cocker, formerly of Pulp and leader of the Fake Band from the fourth movie, was interested in making a full album with guests such as Franz Ferdinand and Iggy Pop. Sadly, he gave up due to a lawsuit (in the book, the band is called Weird Sisters, prompting a Canadian folk rock band, Wyrd Sisters, to sue Warner Bros., Cocker, and guitarist Jonny Greenwood).
  • The character of Peeves was originally going to be included in the first film. Rik Mayall of The Young Ones was cast and apparently went as far as filming scenes before the character was cut. None of the footage - if it exists - has ever been shown. The story is rather complicated and involves two more cases of What Could Have Been. Apparently, Chris Columbus and David Heyman hated the design of Peeves and basically filmed the scene with him knowing that it wouldn't be in the theatrical release, but planning to go back and "fix" it for a future special edition to be released in 2002 or 2003. Columbus was planning to introduce an all-CGI Peeves in Chamber and presumably this would have been the Peeves he was planning to go back and insert into the first film. Then Peeves didn't make the second film either and it seems they just gave up after that.
  • For the fifth movie, Helen McCrory was originally cast as Bellatrix, but dropped out because she became pregnant. They recast Helena Bonham-Carter, who chose to play her more Ax-Crazy than the book version, and McCrory was cast as Bellatrix' sister and Draco Malfoy's mother Narcissa in the sixth movie. Ironically, Carter became pregnant during the making of that movie, and it shows in some scenes.
  • John Williams wanted to return for Deathly Hallows Part II, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from doing so.
  • The first script for Order of the Phoenix did not include Kreacher, to which Rowling told the crew the character would be essential for later movies. Also, a line in Half-Blood Prince established Dumbledore as straight; Rowling nixed the line, writing on the script "He's gay". (Mind, this was well before Rowling outed Dumbledore in an interview.)note 
  • For the brief scene showing Azkaban in the fifth film, the idea came up that putting Azkaban on the edge of a giant waterfall would be a great visual. The problem is that Azkaban is meant to be in the middle of the North Sea. They tried to find some way to justify having a waterfall in the middle of the ocean, such as having a weird ocean sinkhole. Eventually, they just gave up and depicted the ocean normally.
  • Kate Winslet was the first choice for the Grey Lady in Hallows Part II, but they couldn't get through her agent. Kelly Macdonald got the part instead. It's unknown whether Winslet would have said yes.
  • The area at the top of Dumbledore's office contains a weird telescope, which you can see up close in the DVD tour feature. In a DVD documentary, Chris Columbus explains that they may want to use the telescope in "the third or fourth film", which obviously didn't happen, due to the switch in directors.
  • The movie series could have very well featured an example of Awesome Music by The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, reportedly called "I'll Stand By You Always." Springsteen wrote this ballad sometime between 1998 and 2000. He was inspired when he was reading the novels to his youngest son Sam. Sometime in early 2001 Bruce made the song available to director Chris Columbus, who at the time was shooting the first of the Potter movies. A Springsteen recording of the song was filed with the US Copyright Office on 13 Jun 2001. However, the Springsteen song was ultimately rejected due to Harry Potter novelist/creator JK Rowling's contractual stipulation that no commercial songs of any type be used in the Harry Potter film series.
  • When Chris Columbus saw the first cut of Stone (before music was added), he thought the boats riding up to Hogwarts was a Leave the Camera Running scene which would have to be edited down. After Columbus saw the scene with the score John Williams had written for it, he realized that they had to keep the whole thing and they did.
  • Lucius Malfoy's original appearance was of a man with short blond hair and a pinstriped suit. Jason Isaacs changed it to a blond wig, velvet cloak and cane when he realized that, as a Muggle-hater, Lucius certainly wouldn't want to look like one.
  • At the end of Half-Blood Prince, Harry was originally supposed to take Dumbledore's wand for his own. Then Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and the importance of Dumbledore's wand in the plot meant that that idea had to be scrapped.

    James Bond Series 
  • Dr. No: Before Joseph Wiseman was cast, Christopher Lee (also a cousin of Bond creator Ian Fleming) was considered to play the titular villain. Lee would play the villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service was originally going to follow Thunderball in production, most certainly starring Connery if it did, but problems with a warm Swiss winter and inadequate snow cover led to Saltzman and Broccoli postponing the film again, favouring production of You Only Live Twice.
  • Casino Royale (1967) had big problems early on in production when star Peter Sellers was bent on playing Bond straight (as early drafts of the script showed a story as gritty and down-to-earth as the later reboot, but when producer Charles Feldman couldn't cast Sean Connery, he opted to make it a farce). Sellers' continued erratic behavior had him leave in mid-production. What remained of his work had him playing an anonymous ordinary guy hired to play 007, and seeming to lose himself in the role (an interesting reflection of Sellers' own existence) and actually followed the original novel somewhat. The movie in its entirety became a stitched-together string of self-indulgent lunacy, and Sellers' career went into a steep decline, only salvaged late in his brief life.
  • Timothy Dalton would've played Bond sooner starting with For Your Eyes Only, when Roger Moore considered retiring. The opening sequence, with Bond visiting Tracy Bond's grave, was written as a way of introducing the next James Bond.
  • For A View to a Kill, the producers wanted David Bowie to play Zorin, but Bowie turned them down after reading and disliking the script.
  • Pierce Brosnan would've been Bond much earlier, as they wanted him in The Living Daylights to replace Roger Moore. Then the producers of Remington Steele decided to extend his contract, and Timothy Dalton was brought instead.
  • The third James Bond film starring Timothy Dalton, titled The Property of a Lady. MGM was going through many turmoils, and eventually Dalton's contract expired. Then Pierce Brosnan was finally hired (the producers wanted him for the role since the mid-80's but he was tied to Remington Steele due to contractual obligations). But even after all the legality and contract drama was solved, the movie's plot involving Hong Kong's ties to the UK was obsolete by that point, necessitating a couple more years' worth of rewrites. These rewrites eventually turned the film into GoldenEye. The six-year gap between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye remains the largest of the series. Perhaps the most interesting facet of the original version would have been Trevelyan played by either Anthony Hopkins or Alan Rickman, originally being written as a mentor to Bond.
  • In the 90's, Kevin McClory (who claimed to have co-written Thunderball and ended up getting Never Say Never Again made because of that) wanted to launch his own separate series of Bond films, beginning with "Warhead 2000 AD" which could have starred Liam Neeson as Bond.
  • Die Another Day was intended to kick off a new spinoff series of Bond-style spy movies starring Halle Berry's character, Jinx Johnson (especially after Berry became box office gold when she won an Oscar in the midst of filming). However, after a number of similar films tanked at the box office (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life is the most-cited culprit), and the powers that be decided to reboot the main Bond series, the spin-off was cancelled. To add insult to Berry's injury, Catwoman came out two years later. Yeah, ouch.
  • Quentin Tarantino was reportedly interested in making Casino Royale (2006) with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. He never contacted EON (the 007 production company), so it was merely an idea, and Daniel Craig went on to replace Brosnan with Martin Campbell directing, but makes one wonder. Considering what Tarantino likes to do it probably would have been a send up of Tuxedo and Martini and everything else that surrounded the time of the original Bond films.
  • Naming all the actors once considered for Bond would take up considerable space, but a relatively complete list can be found here.
  • The Bond Girls have their moments too:
    • Eunice Gayson's character Sylvia Trench was meant to be a recurring character, with a Running Gag of Bond sleeping with and then leaving her behind to go on missions. She ends up only appearing in Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Eunice Gayson was also offered the role of Moneypenny.
    • For Thunderball, Julie Christie was the first choice to play Domino Derval but was not hired after producer Cubby Broccoli found her too petite to be a Bond Girl. Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway were then considered before Broccoli settled on Claudine Auger to play the part.
    • Lois Chiles was originally cast as Agent XXX/Major Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, but pulled out and was replaced with Barbara Bach. Chiles would later go on to play Holly Goodhead in Moonraker, but this time she was a replacement for the initially cast Carole Bouquet, who also had to pull out, but was later cast as Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.
    • Maria Grazia Cucinotta was the first choice for Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough, but her English was not up to par, and so the role was given to Sophie Marceau. As a consolation prize, she was given the small but memorable role of the Cigar Girl assassin.
  • Some What Could Have Beens predate the film series, generally involving Ian Fleming himself:
    • A telegram sent by Fleming in 1958 was discovered, in which he said he thought Alfred Hitchcock should direct Casino Royale as the first Bond movie. This is referenced in a scene in Hitchcock (about the making of Psycho) that has a studio exec pitching Casino Royale to Hitchcock, with Cary Grant as Bond. Hitchcock's response; "I already made that movie. It's called North By Northwest."
    • Had the 1954 version of Casino Royale not fallen into obscurity, Ian Fleming would have seen a number of other Bond TV films made, including a script for what became For Your Eyes Only.
  • Music:
    • Before Tom Jones' iconic theme song was chosen to lead off Thunderball, several other pieces of music were considered. One, a song called "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", was tried out with both Dionne Warwick and Goldfinger singer Shirley Bassey, but rejected (though its melody remained in the incidental score); another song considered was a tune called "Thunderball" by, of all people, Johnny Cash. And as one would expect, it sounds more like the theme for a Clint Eastwood western than a James Bond movie.
    • Alice Cooper was originally approached to perform the title theme for The Man with the Golden Gun, but was rejected in favor of Lulu. Their song would appear in their 1973 album Muscle of Love.
    • Blondie was originally approached to perform the theme song to For Your Eyes Only, but when they submitted their song it was refused in favor of one written by Bill Conti and Michael Leeson, and the band withdrew from the project. Their song later appeared in their 1982 album The Hunter.
    • A completely different opening song for Never Say Never Again was recorded by Phyllis Hyman, but without the authorization of said film's composer, who had contractual rights to oversee the film's score, and thus it was scrapped. The recording was shelved until 2008 when it appeared on a Hyman compilation album.
    • Several conflicting sources exist on whether this was supposed or not to be the Title Theme Tune for Quantum of Solace.

    Mad Max Series 
  • The Road Warrior, Humungus was originally supposed to be Max's partner Jim Goose. They decided against this, but left a few hints, such as horrible burns behind Humungus' goalie mask, his raider's use of police vehicles (which look more like Melbourne Police cars), and his own use of a very similar weapon to the MFP's standard sidearm. Granted, they could never explain how someone of average height and a slender build as Goose could have morphed into a muscle bound giant.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was originally just someone After the End who finds a group of children living in the wreck of a plane, until someone suggested that that man be Mad Max.
  • One idea considered for a new Mad Max film was to have the original Mad Max die halfway through the story and be replaced by his younger son.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road:
    • According to George Miller, Mel Gibson was intended to reprise his role as Max, but the constant production delays and Gibson's interest in making The Passion of the Christ meant that it never came to pass. Miller's second pick was Heath Ledger, but the latter's untimely death led Miller to cast Tom Hardy instead. Michael Biehn was also reportedly considered for the lead at one point.
    • The film was originally planned to be an interquel between the original film and its sequel, with Immortan Joe allegedly being Toecutter from the original film (although Hugh Keays-Byrne plays both roles, there is no connection between them in the final product). Rictus was also supposed to survive the pileup at the end of the film and become Lord Humungous in Road Warrior.
    • There were also several actors who initially joined the production, only to leave when filming became delayed for years, including two of the actresses who played the Wives. Abbey Lee (The Dag) replaced Teresa Palmer before filming started, while Courtney Eaton (Fragile) replaced Adelaide Clemens due to scheduling difficulties.

     Marvel Cinematic Universe 
Phase 1: Avengers Assembled
  • Iron Man:
    • The film had a lengthy production cycle that dates back to the early 1990's. Jeff Vintar and Stan Lee pitched a story for Fox that would have had M.O.D.O.K. as the main villain, and Quentin Tarantino was approached as the director. Both Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise expressed interest in starring as Tony Stark. Due to having too much on their plate with X-Men and the studio's other Marvel movies (as well as Tom Rotham's rumored dislike of superheroes), Fox ended up selling the rights to New Line.
    • A new script was written for New Line, which featured a Cameo from Nick Fury to set the character up for his own movie. Subsequent drafts also featured Howard Stark (who was still alive in this version) as War Machine, the movie's Big Bad. The execs also made bizarre demands and suggestions, such as saying that Iron Man shouldn't fly and should suit up by using a toaster. David Hayter did some work on the script, while both Joss Whedon and Nick Cassavetes were approached to direct. When production stalled for too long, the license lapsed and the rights returned to Marvel.
    • When the film was officially set up at Marvel Studios as the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Mandarin was originally set to be the main antagonist. Mark Millar convinced Jon Favreau to go with Iron Monger instead, arguing that the Mandarin was a poor tonal fit for an origin movie (in addition to being a walking pile of Unfortunate Implications).
    • Adding to that, the decision to use Iron Monger was only made after Jeff Bridges was cast. The original idea was that the Mandarin would be the Big Bad of the first movie, while Obadiah Stane would appear in a supporting role to set him up as the villain of the sequel.
    • According to Bridges, Stane was originally supposed to survive the final battle against Tony, with the heroes opening up the destroyed Iron Monger suit to find that there was no corpse inside. Presumably this would have poised him to return for future movies.
  • The Incredible Hulk:
    • Bruce Banner's Kid Sidekick Rick Jones was present in early drafts of the film, but ended up being removed once Edward Norton rewrote the script.
    • An earlier draft would've made the Abomination a Composite Character with Glenn Talbot.
    • As a huge fan of The Wire, Norton wrote in a cameo for Michael K. Williams. The scene was cut down significantly, so in the finished product, Williams basically appears for about 5 seconds during the final battle.
  • Iron Man 2:
    • Rumiko Fujikawa was initially going to appear, with Marvel reportedly wanting Zhang Ziyi for the role. Her part was cut due to the film already having too much going on, but Viral Marketing showcasing her Stark-Fujikawa subsidiary was still used to promote the movie.
    • The original ending would have had Whiplash survive his earlier Taking You with Me attempt, only to be Killed Off for Real by Rhodey after making one final attempt to kill Tony and Pepper. The ending was changed to a more ambiguous Never Found the Body situation in case Marvel wanted to bring back Whiplash for future movies.
    • Emily Blunt was nearly cast as Black Widow, but had to turn down the part due to contractual obligations to the ill-fated Gulliver's Travels movie.
    • There were plans for Paul Bettany to appear in a flashback scene that would have explained the origin of JARVIS. Presumably, he would have played the original Edwin Jarvis (a role that eventually went to James D'Arcy in Agent Carter).
  • Captain America: The First Avenger:
    • Marvel began development on a Captain America movie in 2000, with Artisan Entertainment tapped to help finance it. A lengthy lawsuit over ownership of the character delayed the project until it fell apart.
    • Earlier drafts of The First Avenger featured Baron Zemo and Baron von Strucker as side villains working with the Red Skull, but the writers cut them from the script due to fears that they would be wasted in such small roles. Both ended up being Saved for the Sequel, with Strucker in The Stinger of Captain America: The Winter Soldier as well as a minor role in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Zemo as the villain of Captain America: Civil War.
    • Emily Blunt was up for the Peggy Carter role, but had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts.
  • Thor:
    • Like Iron Man, this one had a lengthy development cycle. Sam Raimi met with Stan Lee and Fox about making a Thor movie back in 1990, but the project went nowhere. Marvel again met with Artisan to finance and push the film, but it failed to get picked up by any studios. Sony then picked up the movie and met with David S. Goyer to write and direct it, but Goyer eventually lost interest, leaving the project dead in the water.
    • After the project moved to Paramount and Marvel, Mark Protosevich (a big fan of the comics) wrote a script he described as an epic about "An Old Testament god who becomes a New Testament god." The draft ended up being rewritten due to fears that it would be too expensive to produce, as estimates had the script's budget pegged at around 300 million dollars.
    • Matthew Vaughn (who would later direct X-Men: First Class and Kingsman: The Secret Service) signed on to direct, but walked away when his holding deal expired.
    • Guillermo del Toro was interested in directing, but wanted to incorporate more mythology into the film, as well as a grittier take on Asgard. He ended up passing to direct The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey instead, which he also ended up walking away from.
    • The film was originally going to have a scene where Selvig mentioned a friend and colleague by the name of Hank Pym. The line did make it into the movie, but with the explicit reference to Pym removed.
    • BRIAN BLESSED was originally cast as Odin, but the role was recast with Anthony Hopkins. Mel Gibson claims he was also offered the part.
    • The Enchantress was initially going to appear as well, and concept art of her design can even be found online.
    • Daniel Craig was offered the role of Thor, but turned it down due to commitments to the James Bond franchise.
    • Tom Hiddleston actually auditioned for the role of Thor.
    • Charlie Cox auditioned for the role of Loki. While he didn't get the part, he did end up being cast as the main character in the MCU Daredevil series several years later.
    • Sif was going to be black very early on, as the creators intended to have Heimdall be her older brother like he is in the comics. Concept art can be found here.
    • There's also concept art of Balder, Thor's other brother, indicating that he too was planned to appear at some point.
  • The Avengers:
    • Joss Whedon has confirmed that The Wasp was supposed to have been part of the team, but had to be written out of the script due to the high volume of characters being introduced. Specifically, the Wasp was written into the film due to another What Could Have Been: to replace Black Widow when it looked like the character was going to be omitted due to salary issues with Scarlett Johansson. When a deal with Johansson was reached, Black Widow was written back into the movie. This resulted in Wasp getting cut since at that point, it was decided that seven Avengers would be too many for the first movie.
    • Loki was originally going to have an intimidating co-villain working under him, because Whedon felt that Tom Hiddleston wouldn't seem realistically menacing enough to pose a challenge to the likes of Thor and the Hulk.
    • Iron Man was originally going to be introduced in the midst of a battle against a cyborg supervillain. The idea was scrapped, but animatics of it were included as part of the DVD special features.
    • There was also going to be a brief fight scene between Iron Man and the brainwashed Hawkeye, acting as a nod to the fact that Hawkeye started off as an Iron Man villain in the comics.
    • Whedon didn't want to include Pepper in the movie, as he felt isolating the individual Avengers from their respective supporting casts would make for better drama. Robert Downey, Jr. fought for her inclusion, as he felt Gwyneth Paltrow and Pepper were too important to the Iron Man franchise to simply ignore.
    • Louis Leterrier was interested in making the Hulk the main villain of the film and having the Avengers teaming up to stop the him, just like their comic counterparts. When Bruce intentionally hulks out during the ending of The Incredible Hulk, it was shot so it could either represent him finally gaining or losing control of the Hulk. Tony was also recruiting General Ross to help him stop the Hulk, but when The Avengers took on a different direction, a One-Shot was made to tie up the loose end.

Phase 2
  • Iron Man 3:
    • Anthony Mackie had read for a part in the film (presumably Eric Savin or Jack Taggart), but did not get the role.
    • The movie's take on the Mandarin is vastly different from what Jon Favreau had planned way back when he was making the first film. He had hinted at the character through the Ten Rings organization in both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and said the idea was to set him up as the Greater Scope Villain waiting in the shadows, similar to Sauron or Emperor Palpatine. Favreau ended up walking away from the director's chair due to the Executive Meddling he faced while making Iron Man 2, so Shane Black and Drew Pearce decided to make the Mandarin a Decoy Leader and charlatan.
    • Mark Ruffalo has confirmed that the stinger scene was originally something completely different, but it ended up being scrapped and replaced with the cameo from Bruce Banner. The rumor is that the original scene was going to show Tony suiting up and flying off into space in order to set up the events of Guardians of the Galaxy, but Robert Downey, Jr. passed because he wasn't sure he was going to continue with the MCU at that point (he only signed on to do the Avengers sequels later).
    • Shane Black has said that early drafts of the movie featured a woman as the main villain, but Marvel ordered that the character be replaced because they didn't think kids would buy toys of a female character.
    • An unidentified actress was cast to play Tony's mother in a Flashback, but the scene was never finished.
  • Thor: The Dark World:
    • Monster director Patty Jenkins was hired to direct the movie, but ended up being fired over creative differences. This incited some serious Creator Backlash from Natalie Portman, who tried to back out of the movie before being forced to stay because of her contract.
    • There were apparently plans to have Valkyrie of The Defenders appear, but this never came to fruition. Concept art for several different potential designs can be found online.
    • Loki was originally not going to appear at all, and there was going to be a much greater focus on Malekith and the Dark Elves. When Loki became the Ensemble Darkhorse of The Avengers, the script was rewritten to give him a big role.
    • Mads Mikkelsen was looked at to play Malekith, but the role ultimately went to Christopher Eccleston.
    • Mangog was supposed to appear at one point, presumably as one of the monsters Thor fights near the beginning of the film. Like Valkyrie, he was cut, but concept art of his design has been released online.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier:
    • Before the part went to Anthony Mackie, Michael B. Jordan was one of the actors in the running to play The Falcon. Jordan would later go on to play Erik Killmonger in the Black Panther film.
    • Before settling on a darker military outfit, several of the proposed Falcon costumes featured a more armored look, complete with a helmet. At least one of the suits also retained Falcon's red and white color scheme from the comics, as well the golden forehead crest he wears on his mask.
    • Early promo art, set pics, merchandise, and even the first trailer showed Falcon in a slightly different military outfit with long sleeves. This was replaced with a short-sleeved look in the finalized film for unknown reasons.
    • At one point, the writers had proposed sparing Arnim Zola by revealing that the computer he housed his memory in could transform into a mobile robotic body. Marvel vetoed the idea on the grounds that it was too silly.
    • Hawkeye was originally going to appear in several scenes, including a fight sequence where he would have battled Captain America after a prolonged chase through the city. Scheduling issues with Jeremy Renner prevented this.
    • Before his death in The Avengers and subsequent resurrection in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel considered revealing Phil Coulson as a HYDRA agent in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He would have played the role that Sitwell does in the finished film.
    • Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker was originally going to be the film's Big Bad and leader of the HYDRA double agents in SHIELD but the character was rewritten into Alexander Pierce after the casting of Robert Redford, with Strucker being saved for The Stinger.
    • Related to this, Clay Quartermain was going to appear as well. Some of his scenes were ultimately given to Sitwell.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy:
    • Early drafts featured Nova as a central character, but James Gunn cut him from the film once he was hired to direct and rewrite the screenplay. Kevin Feige claims that the decision was partially due to the desire to focus more on Star-Lord, while Gunn claims he simply does not like Nova.
    • Originally, there was supposed to be a "cameo" (cameo in quotations because the person was a stunt double) of Stan Lee within the Collector's trophy room.
    • Originally, The Stinger was supposed to be related to Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Gunn claims Winter Soldier "stole" the connection from them, eventually resulting in them using Howard the Duck instead.
    • Gunn also wanted to include Rom on the team, but couldn't due to licensing issues.
    • Similarly, Bug was unable to appear because Marvel doesn't own his film rights.
    • Yondu didn't appear in earlier drafts of the script, but Gunn wrote him in specifically for Michael Rooker.
    • Yondu was originally going to be killed after opening up the Orb to find that Peter had replaced the Infinity Stone with one of Rocket's bombs. Gunn decided it'd be better to keep Yondu alive for the sequel, so the scene was changed to him finding that Peter had left a troll doll inside the Orb instead.
    • The Power Stone was originally going to be red like it is in the comics, and the actual prop used for shooting reflected this. However, it was digitally recolored purple in post in order to avoid confusion with the Aether from The Dark World, which was revealed to be the Reality Stone in Age of Ultron.
    • Thanos was originally going to have a much larger role, but Joss Whedon requested that it be reduced so as not to interfere with his own plans for the character. Gunn says at one point, Thanos was going to be the movie's Big Bad rather than Ronan the Accuser.
    • The studio was interested in having Danny DeVito voice Rocket, but they ultimately decided to go in a younger direction.
    • The ending montage was originally going to show Peter's grandfather looking over a picture of Meredith Quill and then glancing up at the stars, with the implication being that he saw Peter being abducted by Yondu all those years ago and is still desperately hoping his grandson will make it back home one day. The scene was cut because everyone thought it was way too sad a note to end the film on.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
    • According to the actor himself, there were briefly plans to have Tim Roth reprise his role as the Abomination from The Incredible Hulk, but the idea was scrapped.
    • Carol Danvers appeared in earlier drafts of the movie as Captain Marvel, but Marvel feared introducing her without explaining who she is would be too confusing for casual viewers. They decided to wait and introduce her in her own movie instead. This was changed so late in production that Whedon had actually shot the live-action plates for her entrance scene, with the intention of casting an actual actress later. The shots were recycled for when Scarlet Witch joins the New Avengers at the end of the movie.
    • The Captain Marvel cameo was an Artifact from an early discussion about using the movie to introduce a whole slew of new superheroes. The idea was jettisoned quickly due to worries that audiences wouldn't have any idea who any of these people were.
    • It was rumored early on that an initial cut of the film was nearly as long as The Dark Knight Rises, clocking in at 160 minutes (along with a later report that clarified that the initial cut of movie was over three hours in length). Eventually, it was confirmed that the theatrical release would be 142 minutes. A subplot involving Thor was reduced in length as a side effect of this, and the appearance of the mysterious woman seen in the trailer (one of the Norns from Norse mythology) is not present in the final film. Bits of the original Norn sequence were later released as deleted scenes.
    • Tom Hiddleston filmed a cameo as Loki for Thor's dream sequence. However, test audiences found the scene confusing, and mistakenly thought the film was implying that Loki was behind the creation of Ultron, and was thus the true Greater Scope Villain of the movie.
    • The Hulk was originally supposed to transform into his Gray Hulk form while under the Scarlet Witch's control, but the digital effects team eventually just settled for changing his eyes to make him appear more sullen and weary. Despite this, Funko still produced a Gray Hulk figure as part of their Pop! line.
    • Aaron Johnson has confirmed that alternate drafts had Quicksilver survive the final battle and then join the team alongside his sister. A costume was even designed in case Marvel chose to spare his life and make him an official Avenger.
    • Whedon had wanted to include Spider-Man as part of the new team of Avengers, but Marvel's deal with Sony had not yet been finalized at that point.
    • Ultron was originally supposed to steal the vibranium he needed from Wakanda. Elaborate concept art of the Wakandan mine where Ultron would forge his new body was even drawn up, but didn't make it into the movie.
  • Ant-Man:
    • The movie was intended to be released in 2010 between The Incredible Hulk and Thor (see the reference to Hank Pym above), but was replaced by Iron Man 2 due to the financial success of the first movie. This pushed the movie back 5 years and 8 movie releases.
    • Patrick Wilson was cast as one of the major villains (rumored to be William Cross/Crossfire, the cousin of Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, the movie's Big Bad), but dropped out of the film after multiple rewrites and production delays.
    • Jordan Peele was cast in the movie, but had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts.
    • Joseph Gordon-Levitt was up for the lead role at one point, while Jessica Chastain, Rashida Jones and Bryce Dallas Howard were in the running for the Hope Van Dyne part.
    • Darren Cross was originally going to go by the alter ego of Nano Warrior, a Canon Foreigner identity. This was changed to Yellowjacket, an actual Marvel identity.
    • Hope's role was much smaller in Edgar Wright's drafts, and Evangeline Lilly actually ended up praising the controversial rewrites for beefing up her part.
    • As the movie predates the MCU itself, it was originally going to be a stand-alone film without any continuity ties. Most of the connections to other movies (such as the appearance from the Falcon or the scene at the New Avengers compound) were only included in later revisions, such as the one done by Adam McKay.
    • Janet van Dyne was not present at all in Wright's script, and was only mentioned in passing as having died offscreen. Presumably, The Stinger with Hope carrying on her mother's legacy by becoming the new Wasp was only added in later drafts as well.
    • The ending was supposed to have Ant-Man taking out Carson before he could escape with the Pym Particles and deliver them to HYDRA. The ending was changed to Carson successfully escaping with the Pym Particles in order to set up a sequel.
    • A few preliminary designs of the Wasp armor harkened back to Janet's original, cone-headed costume, with one version dumping the skirt in favor of something more akin to a Badass Longcoat.

Phase 3
  • Captain America: Civil War:
    • Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's original plan for a third Captain America movie was much smaller than Civil War, and didn't feature the other Avengers. Elements of their initial idea still made it into the finished movie, such as the emphasis on Steve and Bucky's relationship, and the use of Baron Zemo as the Big Bad.
    • As mentioned in the Age of Ultron section, Joss Whedon almost got Captain Marvel added to the team. Had he gotten his way, Captain Marvel presumably would have been one of the Avengers featured in Civil War as well.
    • Likewise, had the aforementioned alternate ending to Age of Ultron where Quicksilver survived been used, he would have appeared here as one of the Avengers.
    • Robert Downey, Jr. has stated that had he decided not to come back for the movie, the Russo brothers would have adapted another story, since Civil War simply does not work without Iron Man. As well, there were plans set up for another script had Marvel and Sony not been able to bring Spider-Man into the MCU.
    • While there were plans from Day 1 to feature a neutral hero who wouldn't be aligned with either Captain America or Iron Man, it wasn't necessarily Black Panther at first. Kevin Feige has said a number of names were put forth as possibilities, but in the end, it was decided that the Panther made the most sense.
    • A scene showing some of Scott Lang's personal life was cut from the movie because the writers scripted it before actually having seen the Ant-Man movie.
    • Earlier drafts of the script featured the debut of Hope Van Dyne as the Wasp, with the character appearing as part of Team Cap. The creators were worried that her introduction would have been overshadowed by the other characters (as well as other concerns like Cast Speciation and Evangeline Lilly being pregnant), so it was decided to save the Wasp's first appearance for the Ant-Man & The Wasp movie.
    • One of The Stingers was going to feature Bruce Banner, but it was cut to avoid spoiling where the character ended up between the events of Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarok.
    • Black Panther was originally going to have more of a cameo role, while Spider-Man was set to have a much larger part in the story. When it looked like the deal with Sony to get Spider-Man into the movie wasn't gonna happen, Black Panther's role was significantly beefed up. By the time Marvel did get permission to use Spider-Man, Black Panther had become so integral to the story that they opted to leave his part as is it was and give Spider-Man a smaller role instead.
    • Related to that, Spider-Man's role in the second act was deliberately written to be non-integral so that if the rights deal fell through, the story wouldn't suffer. The writers have said that had they not been able to use Spider-Man, they would have simply used another new hero as the sixth member of Team Iron Man.
    • A planned fight between Captain America and Black Widow was cut for time.
    • There exists concept art of Helmut Zemo wearing his trademark purple costume and mask from the comics, indicating the idea was probably at least considered early on.
    • There was an idea to have Steve wear a new black costume for stealth missions, such as the opening fight in Lagos. Concept art of the black suit can be found in the movie's art book. There was also an idea for Hawkeye to wear his black bullseye mask from The Ultimates 3.
    • The Russos toyed with the idea of giving Spider-Man organic webs like in the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie. They eventually decided that Peter being able to design his own web-shooters was more interesting.
    • There's concept art of Sharon Carter wearing a combat uniform and fighting alongside Team Cap at the airport battle. This never happens in the movie, but the uniform was heavily featured in the merchandising and marketing art for the film.
    • There's also concept art for the Scarlet Witch which gave her a headdress somewhat similar to what her comic book counterpart wears.
  • Doctor Strange:
    • Doctor Mordrid was going to be a Doctor Strange movie, but the Doctor Strange license expired.
    • Joaquin Phoenix came very close to being cast as Strange, but passed at the last minute because he feared the lengthy production schedule (including sequels and potential Avengers crossovers) would prevent him from pursuing other roles.
    • Neil Gaiman and Guillermo del Toro pitched a Doctor Strange movie back in 2007, but Marvel passed because the character was considered a very low priority for the studio at the time. Not much is known about the pitch, though Gaiman confirmed that Clea would have appeared as a major character.
    • Wong was originally not going to appear in the movie, because the director felt he was an embarrassing racial stereotype. However, he decided to include Wong after they cast a white woman to play the Ancient One, reasoning that not having any Asian characters at all would probably look even worse.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:
    • Matthew McConaughey was offered the villain role, but passed on it.
    • Kevin Feige and James Gunn were both interested in having David Bowie cameo, but the musician's death from cancer in 2016 tragically prevented this.
    • There were plans for a second new Guardian to join the team alongside Mantis, but Gunn wrote the mystery hero out of the script after deciding that the story was already too packed to accommodate another new main character.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming:
    • An early idea was to retroactively incorporate the Amazing Spider-Man movies into the MCU canon instead of doing yet another reboot. However, Andrew Garfield likely wouldn't have returned, thanks to tensions behind the scenes with Sony.
    • Michael Keaton nearly passed on the Vulture role, as it was thought that Marvel wouldn't be able to afford both Robert Downey, Jr. and Keaton.
  • Black Panther:
    • Back before the advent of the MCU, director John Singleton was attached to the movie, but it never materialized.
    • A Black Panther film has been in various stages of development and Development Hell since the '90s, with various scripts, studios, actors, and directors attached at one point or another. Wesley Snipes was even in talks to star at one point, before being cast as the title character in Blade.
    • Reginald Hudlin stated that one of the early proposed scripts would have had Black Panther reimagined as a young African-American man with no knowledge of Wakanda or his African heritage, a change Hudlin found offensive and disrespectful.
    • Once the project was finalized as part of the MCU's Phase 3, Selma director Ava DuVernay went into talks to direct the film. She ended up passing, citing creative differences with Marvel over the vision of the movie.
    • After the massive success of Straight Outta Compton, director F. Gary Gray was looked at to helm the movie, but he passed to direct Fast and Furious 8 instead.
  • Captain Marvel:
    • A report in 2013 indicated that Carol Danvers was originally going to be introduced into the MCU as Ms. Marvel, rather than her (At the time) recent Captain Marvel identity.
    • Back when it was going to air on ABC, Carol was also supposed to appear in Jessica Jones. When the show was instead picked up by Netflix a few years later, she was swapped out for Patsy Walker.
  • The third and fourth Avengers movies were originally going to be called Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Avengers: Infinity War Part II. The "Part I and II" numbering was later dropped and the fourth movie was renamed entirely, as the Russos felt the titles were misleading viewers into thinking the two movies were just one long film split into two parts.
Unreleased/Other
  • Way back when Marvel announced their Phase One film slate in 2006, a solo Nick Fury film written by Andrew Marlowe (Air Force One, End of Days, Hollow Man) was one of the titles included. Nothing ever came of this, and Fury instead ended up appearing across the MCU as the major connective force between the movies.
  • James Gunn was interested in directing a Thunderbolts movie, which Kevin Feige claimed was a possibility should Guardians of the Galaxy do well enough at the box office. The surprise success of Guardians led to Marvel quickly announcing a sequel, which resulted in Thunderbolts being regulated to Development Hell.
  • A Runaways film written by Drew Pearce was in the works for Phase 2, and got far enough along in production that a casting call was released (which drew flack for allegedly whitewashing Nico Minoru, though Marvel claims this was a misunderstanding), and Keke Palmer was approached for a role. The film was shelved indefinitely after the massive success of The Avengers caused Marvel to rethink its plans for future movies.
  • Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, and Loki were all considered as possible Marvel One-Shots, but were ultimately rejected. The former three because Marvel felt they couldn't be done justice given the short length, and the latter because the studio thought the required special effects budget would have been cost-prohibitive.
  • The live-action Daredevil TV show began as a pitch for a movie reboot in the MCU. It was determined that while the idea was too low stakes and low budget to work as a film, it was the perfect fit for Marvel's burgeoning line of Netflix shows.
  • When Fox still had the Daredevil rights, Kevin Feige reportedly offered them an extension in exchange for Fox returning Galactus and the Silver Surfer. This means there's an alternate timeline somewhere where the Netflix Daredevil show never happened, but Marvel got to use Galactus and the Surfer in Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity War.

    Planet of the Apes Series 
  • You can see most of the scripts commented below here: http://pota.goatley.com/scripts.html
  • Planet of the Apes (1968):
    • The concept art of the first film kept true to the source novel and depicted an ape society with advanced technology. That first hunting scene? The gorillas would be riding helicopters, not horses (something that hunters regularly did in the 1960s, before the ecologist movement). The huge expenses that a faithful adaptation entailed resulted in the switch to a primitive society where technological advancement is halted by the orangutans.
    • Edward G Robinson was originally cast as Zaius in the first film, but his ill health didn't mix well with the makeup, and he had to remove himself from the film, after which Maurice Evans replaced him.
    • Linda Harrison did makeup tests for the part of Zira, but ultimately played the mute savage Nova instead.
    • The part where the orangutan judges adopt the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" position originated as a joke between takes and was not in the script.
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes:
    • There were several plans for the sequel; the first written by Pierre Boulle (who loved the first film except for the ending, amusingly), titled Planet of the Men, which had the apes lose their intelligence and go wild again. Another treatment had basically the same plot as the finished film, but with a different ending to the finished product, in which only the Forbidden Zone is destroyed by the cobalt bomb, and apes and humans are set to live in harmony, the final scene having an aged Taylor telling a group of human and ape children the story of how peace was attained. However, there is a Sequel Hook, in which a group of mutated gorillas (possibly including General Ursus) emerge from the ruins to shoot a dove in blatant symbolism, hinting that they will disturb the human/ape peace in future sequels.
    • Fox wanted Heston to return as Taylor, but Heston didn't want to carry another Apes film. They eventually reached an agreement where Taylor would only appear in the end, and retooled the rest of the film around a Suspiciously Similar Substitute astronaut played by James Franciscus (who was cast purely because he looked like Heston) that had come to look for Taylor and gone through the same time travel experience.
    • Heston demanded to be killed off, so they wrote in the scene where he activates the cobalt bomb. Still suspicious that the studio might bring him again, Heston then "suggested" that when the cobalt bomb exploded the whole planet was destroyed, rather than just the Forbidden Zone as first intended. It worked halfways: Heston was never bothered again, but Fox commissioned a new sequel anyway.
  • Escape from the Planet of the Apes:
    • One of the earlier scripts has the three ape-o-nauts viewing the dying Earth from their space capsule before going back in time.
    • The end would have Zira and Cornelius killed by a pack of military doberman pinschers. This was deemed too gruesome and they were shot instead.
  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes:
    • The script opened with a fugitive ape being shot by the police. As they walked to it, the body would be revealed to be covered in open wounds and scars, showing the horrible living conditions of the slave apes. This was cut, again, for being too gruesome.
    • An original script draft showed more of the rapid evolution of the apes from primitive to intelligent and showed the progression of apes from pets to slaves. Caesar leaving the circus, then trying to survive in the desert and being captured by a company that sold apes. Breck was a man whose wife was killed by an ape, and who mistreats Caesar, inciting his revolution. It's also interesting to note that Caesar passes himself off for parts of the film as a deformed human.
    • The movie originally ended with Caesar's yell of "That day is upon you NOW!" and the apes beating Governor Breck to death despite Mr. MacDonald's plea. Poor testing resulted in the addition of Lisa's Big "NO!", which was followed by repeated footage of Caesar's speech dubbed over by Roddy MacDowall to make him reconsider his decision and give the film a more hopeful tone.
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes:
    • The earlier version depicting a human leader named Nimrod, an ancestor of 'Beneath's Mendez. A bomb destroys much of the city from Conquest, and the humans and apes flee to another area. It still involved ape-mutant battles but had Caesar more dictatorial and militant than in the final film, partially due to the death of his wife while she was giving birth. Anger against the humans almost resulted in them all being rendered mute, but this is narrowly averted by a hidden microphone in the coffin of Caesar's wife Lisa that allows someone to whisper to him in 'her' voice. The film ends with precursors to the original, setting up the Forbidden Zone and making anti-human proclamations revealing him to be the first film's Lawgiver.
    • Breck was later planned to return as the villain, but the actor wasn't interested. So he was changed to Breck's security chief, Kolp.
    • Mr. MacDonald was also meant to return, but after the actor refused, the character was changed to his brother.
    • A deleted scene showed Kolp telling his aides, Alma and Mendez, to remain in the ruins of New York and activate the cobalt bomb from Beneath if his forces were defeated. Alma then tried to follow Kolp's orders, but was stopped by Mendez who instead turned the bomb into a worship figure. Mendez is, of course, the first in the line to Beneath's Mendez XXVI.
    • The group of kids in the end would include a hybrid ape-human kid, symbolizing the two species coexistence in peace. A make-up test was made before cutting it out.
  • Various remake and reboot projects:
    • The first attempt to reboot the series, titled Return to the Planet of the Apes, was pitched by Adam Rifkin in 1988. It was an alternate sequel to the first film, set hundred of years after, with the apes having a Roman-esque civilization and using humans as slave labor. A descendant of Taylor (Charlie Sheen and Tom Cruise were considered for the part) would lead the humans to revolt, basically making the film Spartacus with Apes. Rick Baker was attached to the make up department and Danny Elfman was going to score, but the project was cancelled with the arrival of new Fox executives.
    • Peter Jackson reworked Rifkin's idea in 1992 into a Renaissance-esque setting starring an old Da Vinci-like chimpanzee inventor played by Roddy McDowall, who had to hide a human-ape hybrid from the Orangutan Inquisition while the human rebellion was going on. But yet another rotation of Fox exes shut this project down as well.
    • Oliver Stone was approached in 1993 following a rumor that he was interested in directing a Planet of the Apes remake. He wasn't. In fact, after being told of the rumor by Fox exes he went to watch the films, which he had not yet, and told the studio that they were "awful". He was, however, interested on being executive producer to a new film that would discard all the previous POTA mythos, centered instead on "the discovery of cryogenically frozen Vedic Apes who hold the secret numeric codes to the Bible that foretold the end of civilizations."
    • Taking off Stone's idea, Terry Hayes wrote the ultra-violent and deliciously bizarre Return of the Apes script in 1994. Plagued with references to Led Zeppelin, Altered States, Lost in Space and The Lord of the Rings, but none to Planet of the Apes, Return opens with a sudden world plague of newborn progeria that is threatening to destroy humanity in the near future. Disgraced scientist Robert Plant determines that it is the result of a "genetic tykebomb" in human DNA and travels to Africa 102,000 years in the past to locate the "mythocodrial Eve" and keep her away from whatever infected her. "Eve" is a child named "Aiv" (pronounced "Eve") and the whatever is a Medieval-esque civilization of gorilla-like hominids at war with humans. In the end, Plant and his pregnant colleague succeed and she gives birth to a healthy boy named Adam. The religious angle proposed by Stone was otherwise limited to a scene where Plant makes a prayer and an ape identifies it as his own. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed to play Plant, Stan Winston was doing the effects, Phillip Noyce was directing and Fox allocated $100 million to start filming immediately. But in the last moment, Fox executive Dylan Sellers decided that the script could be "improved" with comedy, and demanded in particular that Plant saw a group of apes trying to play baseball and he taught them to do it properly. Hayes refused, Sellers fired him, Noyce quit and the project went back into Development Hell.
    • Chris Columbus and Sam Hamm wrote a more comedic and kid-friendly script in 1995. The progeria plague still opened the film, but was caused by germs brought by a chimp astronaut from space. A team of scientists then used the chimp's spaceship to go to his home planet, Soror, in search for a cure, and what followed was very much like the original novel by Pierre Boulle, with technologically advanced "apes" (whose society also included intelligent gibbons and monkeys, that they called "exotics") ruled by the despotic Lord Zaius and two baseball scenes. The scientists would discover that Soror was once inhabited by intelligent humans that colonized Earth before they nuked themselves back to the stone age and that ape technology and culture was entirely stolen from these ancient humans or TV emissions from Earth. They also discover the cure in a talking girl named Josie, but on their return after 74 years in hyper-sleep they find that Earth has been also overrun by apes. The film ends with a shot of the Statue of Liberty whose face has been carved into a smiling ape's.
    • James Cameron took the helm as producer after Columbus dropped out in 1996 and went back to the idea of making an alternate sequel to the first film, but refused to write or direct as he was too busy doing Titanic (1997). The treatment called for the use of stock-footage showing the opening of the original POTA, except this time there would be a chimpanzee research facility next to the crash site. Zira and Cornelius' time travel in Escape had changed history and resulted in an ape society dominated by chimpanzee scientists rather than orangutan priest-judges. The script then cuts to a second spaceship crashing that carried the protagonist (whom Arnold was still attached to play), and follows him as he arrives in an Ape City ruled by a Caligula-esque chimpanzee-gibbon hybrid descendant of Caesar, and befriends an old orangutan that directs him to the still living Taylor, now father and leader of a tribe of intelligent humans that use guns. Landon leads another human tribe, and Dodge is the one lobotomized "with a twist". Michael Bay was suggested to direct before Peter Hyams signed in 1998. Fox rejected Hyams, however, and both Cameron and Schwarzenegger dropped out.
  • The Tim Burton Planet of the Apes (2001) "re-imagining":
    • Until late into production, the title was The Visitor.
    • Burton wanted to give a "Cornelius-like role" to his friend Paul Reubens, but neither actor nor character was included in the end.
    • Johnny Depp did make-up tests for an unspecified role.
    • Tiffany Smith was cast as Ari and also did make-up tests before being replaced by Helena Bonham-Carter. She has an uncredited appearance as Thade's sister in the final film.
    • Ari was first planned as an "ape princess" and the romantic interest, but Fox vetoed any kind of human-ape romance calling it "weird and unnatural". The veto stood even after Burton offered to make it platonic or just implied.
    • Thade was first written as an Evil Albino Killer Gorilla, but Burton changed him to a chimpanzee after Rick Baker told him that chimps are meaner.
    • Female chimpanzees weren't going to have eyebrows but they were added after the first results were deemed too unsettling.
    • Limbo was going to have a Heel–Face Turn and become a good guy, but Burton and Giamatti agreed that it would be "kind of lame".
    • The original ending was taken from Columbus' draft: Leo crashes in Yankee Stadium and sees apes playing baseball. The camera then pans out to the Statue of Liberty, that has been remodelled into a grinning ape.
    • Everyone signed for a sequel that would explain the final Gainax Ending in Washington but it was cancelled after the film's poor reception by critics.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
    • The first script by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver originated in 2006 as a completely unrelated project, Genesis, centered around an evil genetically-engineered chimpanzee that was raised at a human home and was very smart, but spoke only in sign language. After finishing the script with the release of other engineered apes from a laboratory, Jaffa realized that he had just written a perfect prequel/reboot for POTA, and pitched it to Fox as such. Over thirty rewrites followed.
    • Originally, the human lead was a scientist trying to cure his wife's alzheimers.
    • Tobey Maguire and Shia LaBeouf were contacted to play Will Rodman before James Franco was cast.
    • Will's first romantic interest was Mollie Stewart, a primatologist in Will's laboratory.
    • Rocket would gain intelligence as a result of biting Caesar at the primate sanctuary, and then collaborate with him.
    • Caesar's mother would survive and remain in the laboratory after her child was taken to be raised at Will's home. After gaining intelligence, Caesar and Rocket would sneak in there to free her, but this would go sour because of Koba. Koba would offer Rocket a necklace in exchange for freeing him also, and once outside Koba would murder Franklin and return to his cage, "framing" Caesar.
    • After getting the ALZ-113, Caesar and Roket visited the San Francisco Zoo to infect the apes there before Buck released them the next morning.
    • After deciding that Caesar's mother would die early in the film, Caesar had a "romance" with a female chimpanzee named Cornelia at the ape sanctuary, who was taken to the GenSys lab, and freeing her was his reason to go there instead. Scenes with the two made it into some trailers before being finally cut (Cornelia still returns as Caesar's partner in the sequel, though).
    • Koba would infect Jacobs deliberately with the ALZ-113 while still in the lab. Then he would hitch a taxi that was in turn hitched by Hunsiker, infecting him.
    • Dodge, not Rodney, was the one placed on a cage by the apes and therefore survived. He in turn helped the police at the Golden Bridge (not Jacobs) and would try to shoot Caesar before Buck threw him off the bridge.
    • Brandon Routh auditioned to play Dodge.
    • Will died on Caesar's arms after a battle between apes and police in the woods at the end of the first cut of the film, but this was changed because of poor testing.
    • Another deleted scene in the DVD has Caesar pushing Jacobs off the bridge, not Koba.
    • The original stinger had Koba discovering an abandoned police shotgun in the woods and learning to shoot it.
    • In general, the script was made less violent and complex at Fox's request.
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:
    • Jaffa, Silver and Rise's director Rupert Wyatt signed to do the sequel, but were replaced later.

    Police Academy Series 
  • Creator Paul Maslansky originally envisioned the franchise to have ten movies.
  • According to Hugh Wilson, the original cut of the first film was around two and a half hours long.
  • Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, and Judge Reinhold all auditioned for the role of Mahoney before Steve Guttenberg managed to land it.
  • The role of Commandant Lassard (originally named "Capt. Lewis Lassard" in an earlier draft) was originally written for Robert Conrad, who turned down the part only to regret it later to the point that he took the part of the police chief in Moving Violations.
  • Marion Ramsey was asked to wear a fat suit for her role as Hooks, with the idea that the boot camp training would've rendered her slim by the end of the first film. Due to time constraints, the scene showing Hooks after her weight loss was removed from the final cut. By the time work on the sequel began, the filmmakers changed their minds, opting instead to have Ramsey wearing the fat suit in order to garner audience sympathy for her character.
  • James Signorelli was originally scheduled to direct Their First Assignment, but was considered "too edgy" by producer Paul Maslansky and replaced by Jerry Paris.
  • Bill Paxton was offered the role of Proctor in Their First Assignment, but turned it down when the contract required him to also appear in future sequels.
  • G.W. Bailey had hoped to reprise his role as Lt. Harris for Their First Assignment, but was passed over in favor of Art Metrano in both that film and Back in Training. Bailey instead took a job working with Hugh Wilson on Rustlers' Rhapsody. However, on a day off, Bailey made an uncredited cameo as a guest at Tackleberry's wedding to Sgt. Kirkland at the end of the second film.
  • The Japanese character Nogata, who appeared in both Back in Training and Citizens on Patrol, was originally written as a male Indian police cadet named Ramu, which explains why in the third film, Nogata sleeps on a bed of nails that he picked up in New Delhi, and also likes to meditate with his hand over a candle flame.
  • During filming of Back in Training, Bobcat Goldthwait suggested to the filmmakers that the villains in the final chase scene should be the same ones who appear earlier in the film, but Goldthwait was told to just say his lines, and that the filmmakers were not paying him to write.
  • Both Back in Training and Citizens on Patrol were originally meant to be filmed back-to-back, but production got held up due to the death of the third film's director Jerry Paris, so Jim Drake was brought in to direct the fourth film.
  • When Jerry Paris fell ill, Gene Quintano was offered the chance to direct Citizens on Patrol, but turned it down, not feeling confident enough in his abilities, while the offer went to Jim Drake, and Quintano instead wrote the script. On the day of the film's premiere, Quintano told producer Paul Maslansky that he regretted turning down the director's chair. So, Maslansky offered Quintano the job of writing and directing Honeymoon Academy, which this time Quintano accepted immediately.
  • Bobcat Goldthwait and Tim Kazurinsky were both brought on board at the last minute for Citizens on Patrol to replace Fackler, who was dropped from the film due to Bruce Mahler's negotiations over his pay falling apart.
  • Bobcat Goldthwait refused to reprise his role as Zed in Assignment Miami Beach due to not being able to come to a financial agreement with the filmmakers. As a result, Tim Kazurinsky ended up not being involved either because the filmmakers felt there was no point in bringing back Sweetchuck without Zed.
  • If Steve Guttenberg had agreed to appear in Assignment Miami Beach, Mahoney would have been promoted to Lieutenant along with Hightower at the end of the film.
  • The original plan for City Under Siege was to have Lassard and his crew travel to Russia under the title Operation Glasnost. However, permission to film in Russia would not be granted until five years later with Mission to Moscow. Then, the sixth film's setting was moved from Russia to England, with Richard Curtis and Ben Elton being offered to write the script, but was shot down by Assignment Miami Beach performing below expectations at the box office, and the decreased budget the filmmakers were given, in comparison to the earlier films' massive budgets, thus it ended up being filmed in Los Angeles.
  • After plans to film City Under Siege in England were nixed, the idea was again considered for the seventh film under the working title of Operation Scotland Yard. Paul Maslanky's revisited idea was to have Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, and other former cast members unite with the cast for a Grand Finale to the franchise, with tenative plans for a 1991 theatrical release. However, the final product, Mission to Moscow, ended up being a very different, much lower budget, Direct-to-Video release, with Guttenberg, Smith, and others declining to return.
  • Bubba Smith had planned to reprise his role as Hightower in Mission to Moscow, but ended up withdrawing from the film after being told by the filmmakers that they were not planning to bring back Marion Ramsey as Hooks. As a result, scenes originally written for Hightower (who would've been promoted to Captain) had to be given to some of the other characters (i.e. Tackleberry checking up on Commandant Lassard in his hotel room, Capt. Harris wearing a tutu at the Bolshoi Ballet, etc.), and G.W. Bailey was brought on board at the last minute.

    Star Trek 
  • In early drafts of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it was Spock, not Decker, who had had the earlier relationship with Ilia, and it was he who would have merged with Ilia and Vger at the end, effectively removing the character from the series.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
    • The film went through a lot of changes. Five potential scripts were written (four by Jack B. Sowards, one by Samuel Peeples), each with a completely different storyline. When Nicholas Meyer came on as director, he took the best elements of each script, put them all together into one big script and that's what they filmed. Originally, Khan, Saavik, Kirk's son, etc. were from separate scripts.
    • In addition, Spock's death was to have occurred mid-way into the movie (forcing Kirk to assume command) but was placed closer to the end when the death of Spock was leaked to the fans.
    • Additionally, Gene Roddenberry initially pitched a Time Travel story in which the Enterprise crew would prevent JFK's assassination to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Apparently, Roddenberry continued to pitch this strange time-travel story — which would have ended up a Shaggy Dog Story as soon as Spock realized that preventing JFK's assassination would seriously screw up history and destroy the Federation — every time a new sequel was given the go-ahead. This, along with the massive cost overruns and production issues surrounding the first Star Trek movie, was a significant factor in Roddenberry being kicked upstairs to "Executive Consultant" status and the producers & directors of all subsequent Trek movies being told (unofficially, at least) that they could safely ignore Gene's "suggestions."
      • It doesn't help that a very similar story plays out in the famous TOS episode "The City on the Edge of Forever."
      • The JFK premise eventually got an unusually straight, non-parody treatment on an episode of Red Dwarf.
      • Coincidentally, a Quantum Leap episode featured future Enterprise captain Scott Bakula going back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Jackie Kennedy, not John.
      • Originally, the Reliant was supposed to be a differently configured Constitution-refit class like the Enterprise. However, a combination of both the model being too cumbersome and the fear of the audience getting confused over which one was which, led to the creation of the Miranda-class. As well, the design was much different, with the two nacelles pointed upwards with torpedo launchers underneath them. However, Harve Benette looked at the original designs upside down and signed off on them that way. With no time to get in touch with him to reapprove it the right way, they redesigned it to become what became the Reliant.
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock: Edward James Olmos was considered to play Commander Kruge before Christopher Lloyd was cast.
  • At one point, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home would have featured an eccentric professor played by none other than Eddie Murphy. The character was eventually rewritten into Dr. Gillian Taylor.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier begs many of these questions. What if the script writing wasn't derailed by the 1988 WGA strike? What if Industrial Light and Magic hadn't been too busy to work on the film? What if they were able to get Sean Connery to play Sybok as they wanted? What if the budget had allowed the rock creatures who were supposed to chase Kirk at the end? And most of all, if any of this had worked out, would the film have actually been good?
  • With Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Harve Bennett proposed a prequel story featuring Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Scotty, recast by younger actors, first meeting one another at Starfleet Academy. The story would have been about Cadet Kirk's one true love, and her death — the thing which drives him towards adventure, and which never allowed him to settle down and have a family. The movie would have featured cameos from William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy at the start and end of the film, where they visit the grave site of the girl that Captain Kirk has never allowed himself to ever forget. Paramount rejected the concept, wanting a story featuring the entire TOS cast since it was Star Trek's 25th anniversary. The Starfleet Academy prequel angle would finally be used in the 2009 reboot Star Trek.
    • Walter Koenig wrote a script under the title "In Flanders Field", which would have had the entire crew save for McCoy and Spock die due to the fact that both had been seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Scotty had yet to appear in "Relics" at this time)
    • There was supposed to be a Getting The Band Back Together scene, which would have had Chekov, Scotty, Uhura and Kirk being grabbed from mundane things to return to duty.
  • Star Trek: First Contact:
    • After filming Star Trek: Generations, ILM modified the 6-foot Enterprise-D model to become the Enterprise-E with the assumption that, if they needed to do something cost-saving, they could just fall back onto the original Galaxy model had the plan to make the Sovereign failed.
      • The uniforms for the movie were also planned to be quite different: the original plan for the uniforms were to be something of a combination of the normal TNG costumes and the Starfleet uniforms of the movies prior to Generations. The figurines for Generations still used these designs and there was at least a prototype made for Patrick Stewart's use, but ultimately it was discarded for the mixture of TNG and DS 9 uniforms that disappeared for First Contact.
    • The deflector shield sequence in Star Trek: First Contact was originally intended to have hundreds of Borg swarming over the hull of the Enterprise. Bad. Ass.
    • Tom Hanks had been considered to play Zephram Cochrane, before James Cromwell was cast.
  • Star Trek: Insurrection:
    • According to a leaked manuscript, Fade In: The Writing Of Star Trek: Insurrection (written by Michael Piller years before his death, and never released because of studio concerns about the content of said manuscript), initial concepts for the film were far removed from the final product. The first script treatment (called Star Trek: Stardust) involved Picard and a fellow cadet named Hugh Duffy (who were friends at Starfleet Academy) meeting up after almost three decades because of different circumstances. Duffy has become a renegade who has tried to provoke a war between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and Picard must travel to the Neutral Zone to bring him back. Picard eventually finds Duffy and risks his career to help the other officer thwart a plan by the Romulans to take over a planet housing "the fountain of youth". At the end, Picard gets arrested (and stripped of his rank) by Starfleet due to his actions during the film. The plot was similar to Heart of Darkness, and featured numerous Shout Outs and call-backs to various episodes of TNG.
  • Star Trek: Nemesis:
    • The final battle in Star Trek: Nemesis was going to be an insane six-on-one battle against the Scimitar, but was dropped because of cost.
    • Nicholas Meyer and LeVar Burton were both considered as directors. Meyer turned it down because Rick Berman wouldn't let him make any significant script alterations, and Burton was blocked when Paramount went over Berman's head and installed Stuart Baird.
    • More than a third of the film, including several character moments and a lot of exposition, were cut out.
    • Aaaand to cap it off, Patrick Stewart remarked after Insurrection that he would have preferred the next TNG movie to be a continuation of the "corrupt admiral" sideplot. Said continuation would have involved the Enterprise facing off with massive corruption in Starfleet, and given Picard's established reaction to Starfleet officers who betray the ideals of the Federation, it's hard to imagine a way for that movie not to have been awesome.
    • There were also plans to use the ending to modify the Sovereign model to streamline it for the next movie, but not only was the scene for it removed, it ended up being the last movie, so it didn't go through.
  • J. J. Abrams's first choice to play Nero in Star Trek was Russell Crowe. Apparently Crowe wasn't totally unwilling, but they could not agree on salary.
    • Daniel Craig auditioned as Scotty before Simon Pegg was cast.
    • William Shatner could have appeared as Kirk. During the Starfleet award ceremony, Spock would present a pendant containing a moving holographic recording of the older Kirk. The crew of the new timeline would look in awe witnessing the recording of Kirk's future self. This eventually made it into Star Trek Beyond, as Spock finds a photo when going through the deceased Spock Prime's belongings showing the original cast (this was actually a promotional still from The Final Frontier.)
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
    • Casting considered tapping Michael Dorn, who played Worf in TNG, to play one of the new-look Klingons. They ultimately decided not to "mix the old with the new".
    • Benecio del Toro was the filmmaker's original choice for the role of Harrison, but negotiations fell through. It's fascinating to imagine what he would have done as Khan.

    Star Wars 
George Lucas envisioned a grand universe for the Star Wars franchise, but not all of his ideas made it to the big screen:

  • There were plans in the 80's to have each new installment (back when Lucas said there could be as many as 12) helmed by a different director, who would be able to put their own style and ideas into the franchise. This plan was scuttled when Lucas realized how little control the approach would allow him during the filming of Empire.
    • Lucas considered having Frank Darabont (known for films such as The Shawshank Redemption) write the prequels while kicking around ideas in the early 90's.
  • Episode IV: A New Hope (1977):
    • The very first treatment of what we now know and love as A New Hope, The Journal of the Whills. It centered around a Jedi-bendu by the name of Mace Windy (who would become the Mace Windu character in The Phantom Menace) and his apprentice, C. 2. Thorpe. Lucas brought the thing to his agent, Jeff Berg, who was quickly confused by the massive amounts of jargon used in the treatment, and recommended he start simpler.
    • Other early drafts had the main character called Luke Starkiller, a cyborg science officer on the Millennium Falcon, and had Han Solo as a "hulking green alien" before he was turned into a lovable rogue and Harrison Ford came along. And Chewbacca was his wife!
    • Another version, similar to the above, featured a cast made entirely of robots.
    • The first draft of Hope was about twice as long as the finished film, and contained a lot of elements that would be recycled in later movies — for example, the last act would take place on the jungle planet Yavin, which would be the home planet of the Wookiees (originally envisioned as smaller, with heads like that of "giant bushbabies", and not technologically capable), who would end up fighting the Empire alongside our heroes. The second draft was a substantial rewrite which cut all this out, but Lucas still wanted a Wookiee in the movie: so he created Chewbacca, a Wookiee co-pilot who was familiar with technology. For Jedi, Lucas brought back his idea of a low technology race fighting the Empire — but in place of the Wookiees, he invented the Ewoks (by effectively shrinking them down half the size and inverting the two syllables in their species name)note . A giant battle with Wookiees on their home planet Kashyyyk finally made it to screen in Revenge of the Sith.
    • The first two drafts of the screenplay apparently ripped off Flash Gordon and Frank Herbert's Dune, respectively. Lucas had to rework the draft several times when the rights holders (King Features and Herbert) balked. Even then, Herbert tried to sue because (if you read the book) they're still similar, but he relented when the film became a hit in its own right.
    • Before Leia was added to the story, Lucas was concerned that there weren't any major female characters. He considered changing Luke into a woman!
    • R2-D2 and C-3PO had different character designs in the beginning: the former was meant to be tripedal, and the latter bore an androgynous appearance similar to Hel from Metropolis. Artoo's design was changed after tripedal locomotion proved to be too difficult to accomplish on sand. Lucas also decided to make Threepio more distinctly male in the end.
    • Lucas wanted Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan, before the suits at 20th Century Fox insisted that he had to get a "name actor" (such as the eventual choice of Sir Alec Guinness) to play the character. There are also differing accounts regarding why Mifune wasn't cast; some say Fox was hesitant because his English was difficult to understand and his lines had to be consistently dubbed over, while others say it was because he was simply not available. Peter Cushing was also considered as Obi-Wan Kenobi before being cast as Grand Moff Tarkin.
      • According to Mifune's daughter Mika, Mifune himself turned down the role of Obi-Wan, believing it was degrading to the samurai film genre. He was also offered the part of Darth Vader, but turned it down because his face would be covered the whole time.
    • The "Lost Cut" — the first rough cut of the film, which has never been seen publicly and has been detailed in various articles over the years — was apparently intended to be "American Graffiti In Space". It featured many extra scenes, including extra footage of the Jawas and the Sandcrawler, a midget alien confronting a creature much larger than itself (seen in a Between My Legs shot) at the Mos Eisley spaceport, and more. It is unknown whether or not this version would have turned out better than the theatrical release.
    • Darth Vader was originally a rather minor character, and early drafts actually have him spending most of the movie without his iconic suit. He was even going to be killed off during the trench run at the end, but Lucas decided to add a shot of him escaping as a Sequel Hook, and the rest is history.
    • Burt Reynolds, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Kurt Russell were all considered for the role of Han Solo.
    • Carrie Fisher and Sissy Spacek both auditioned for the lead roles in A New Hope and Carrie (Female lead in the case of the former). So we were this close to Spacek as Princess Leia and Fisher as Carrie.
    • Finding the voice of David Prowse, who played Darth Vader on set, to not be intimidating, Lucas thought of casting Orson Welles as Vader's voice. But believing Welles was too recognizable, cast James Earl Jones instead.
    • A comic based on the original script and featuring much of the ideas above was made in 2013, titled The Star Wars.
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980):
    • If you want to see what a second film would have been without Han Solo, Alan Dean Foster was commissioned to write a novel that the second film could have been: Splinter of the Mind's Eye.
    • Early story meetings had the wampa as a fish-like monster that could "swim" through snow, in contrast to the Yeti-like creature seen in the finished film.
    • The earliest drafts had the wampas arranging a coordinated attack on Echo Base before the Empire even arrived, and a scene of a wampa bursting through one of the base's walls was filmed before being scrapped. There was also an additional sequence where Threepio would have torn a warning sign off of the room where the captured wampas were being held, leading to an unfortunate Snowtrooper getting grabbed and mauled during the Imperial invasion.
    • In one draft, there was no trip to Dagobah, and no Yoda. The Force would have been something anyone could tap into.
    • Yoda was initially conceived as a large alien before the production team settled for making him the small, elf-like creature everyone knows and loves.
    • Yoda was going to be played by a trained monkey.
    • Lucas originally wanted Jim Henson to play Yoda. He wound up casting Frank Oz because Henson was busy with The Great Muppet Caper at the time, and couldn't commit to a major role in another film.
    • Emperor Palpatine's original concept was to be an Anti-Climax boss who got up to his position by Vader and Tarkin, and that the Emperor would have been a lot closer to a Puppet King to them. It was changed so late into the game that the novelization of A New Hope used this characteristic. Eventually, by Jedi, or at the very least Empire, its made very clear that Palpatine was not a Puppet King, and certainly not an Anti-Climax boss.
    • Apparently, the huge mind-blowing shocking twist of Darth Vader being Luke's father was never intended. In an early draft Anakin's ghost even appeared. Talk about a serious rewrite (and this was probably why the twist was so shocking; there weren't any hints).
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983):
    • According to Gary Kurtz, the original treatment for Jedi ended with Han Solo and/or Lando Calrissian dying, the Millennium Falcon getting blown up (which is briefly alluded to in the finished film, with Han having a funny feeling he'll never see the Falcon again before leaving for Endor) and Luke going into seclusion by walking out into the Tatooine desert. Harrison Ford, for his part, wanted Han to die at the end, but Lucas vetoed it.
    • The Emperor wasn't supposed to appear in person until Episode IX, when he would be defeated and the Empire finally toppled. Apparently between Empire and Jedi, Lucas decided he didn't want to make six more films to finish the story (he wanted to be able to see his family and friends once in a while) and changed the story to a much more simplistic retelling of A New Hope, complete with a new Death Star.
    • The original title of the film would have been "Revenge of the Jedi", but this was changed when Lucas (after consulting with his producers) realized that Jedi were above the concept of revenge. note 
    • Lucas wanted Steven Spielberg to direct Jedi. This became impossible when the Director's Guild ticked Lucas off by fining him for not doing a proper credit sequence in the previous Star Wars movies, and he quit the Guild in protest. Also, Lucas was aggressively trying to court both David Cronenberg and David Lynch, but neither of his choices panned out. Steven Spielberg apparently thought about suggesting Lucas have Paul Verhoeven direct the film, but after seeing the explicit content in Spetters, immediately reconsidered. note 
    • The B-wing fighters were supposed to have a much greater role in the attack on the Death Star, but most of their sequences were cut because the models kept blending in with the star field backdrops used for filming.
    • Luke's second lightsaber was originally planned to be blue, just like his first one, and it's even depicted as blue in some Jedi promotional material (such as this poster). It was changed to green late in production in order to make it better stand out against the blue sky during the barge fight sequence on Tatooine.
    • Leia was never intended to be Luke's sister (as their brief kiss in the previous film shows), and the next trilogy was apparently going to be about Luke finding his long lost sister.
    • The Ewoks were to be accompanied by the Yuzzums. Both species went through different designs, more resembling creatures from folklore such as trolls. Some versions were gangly with elongated legs and arms. Some had an elongated nose, a beak, or a pig-like snout. Some designs lacked fur. Some had a more pug-like face and would not be mistaken for a teddy bear.
    • David Lynch or David Cronenberg could have been the directors.
    • Grand Moff Jerjerrod would have been Vader's main rival. Instead of Coruscant, the Imperial capital would have been the overly polluted Had Abbadon, orbited by two death stars, and a green moon being turned into a paradise. The Emperor would consult with Vader and Jerjerrod in the throne room in Had Abbadon, surrounded by a lava pit that the Emperor and Vader would fall into during the final battle.
    • In another draft, the green moon became Jus-Endor, Had Abbadon and the other Death Star were removed, and Admiral Ackbar was described as being pale blue.
    • A proposed ending would have had Luke putting on Vader's helmet, vowing to destroy the Rebel fleet and rule the galaxy, then aiming the Death Star at Had Abbadon and destroying it.
    • In the final battle, Ben and Yoda would appear alive and physical, and would taunt the Emperor, with Ben being struck by the Emperor's lightning instead of Vader. Yoda would prevent Vader from becoming one with the Force, allowing "Annikin" to appear and describe his fall to the dark side. Obi-Wan would explain how they escaped being pulled into the Force in order to not lose their identity, how he blamed himself for everything that happened, and that Owen was his brother.
    • One ending would have Leia preparing to be a queen, as Luke walks off alone, into the sunset.
  • Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999):
    • Early treatments of the film originally did not have Qui-Gon Jinn, and simply had Obi-Wan by himself as a Jedi Knight. Qui-Gon was added as Obi-Wan's master to flow with the generational "Passing the Torch" theme found throughout the whole saga. It has been argued that the events in the story would have made a lot more sense had the original plan been filmed.
    • George Lucas met with Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and Ron Howard about directing the movie, but they all found the prospect too daunting, since making a new Star Wars movie was pretty much universally seen as a pretty huge burden due to how beloved the originals are.
    • According to Jake Lloyd, there was a six-hour cut of the film that was screened for several people before the film was released, with those who saw it (including the actor who voiced General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith) proclaiming it to be "mindbogglingly good". Like the later "Lost Cut" of A New Hope, this cut has never been released publicly.
  • Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002):
    • Leonardo DiCaprio was at one point attached to play Anakin in Clones, but (depending on which story you believe) he either backed out after reading the script or was let go by Lucas after he spilled the beans about his casting during an interview with a media outlet.
    • Count Dooku was initially designed as an alien woman, with concepts being thrown around like a killer fairy, a hyper-advanced robot and several others. Eventually, Lucas told the team that they could either make one design work, or scrap the whole thing and start fresh with Christopher Lee, who had just signed on. They did the easy thing. Funny enough, one of the rejected designs was later used to portray Asajj Ventress in the Star Wars Expanded Universe and Legends stories.
    • A portion of Clones was reworked and refilmed in post-production. As originally shot, Anakin and Padmé were immediately captured when they arrived on Geonosis, offered the opportunity to join the Separatists by Dooku, and sentenced to death. Obi-Wan would not have been seen after his capture until Anakin and Padmé arrived in the arena. These scenes were deleted and replaced with new scenes: the droid factory set-piece and Dooku's offer to join the Separatists instead being delivered to Obi-Wan.
    • R4-P17, Obi-Wan's astromech droid, was originally going to be destroyed during the execution scene at the Geonosian arena. The droid also was supposed to possess an actual body, whereas in the finished film, R4 is just a stationary head built into the ship.
    • Several members of the boy band N Sync filmed cameos as Jedi during the climactic arena sequence, but they were cut from the movie during the editing phase.
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005):
    • Star Wars III: Fall of the Republic, by John L. Flynn, was a proposed script from 1983.
    • Shaak Ti. She had three different possible deaths, yet she ended up being one of the few Jedi to survive Order 66. First, the creators of the Clone Wars miniseries wanted to have Grievous kill Shaak Ti in the final episode — she only lived because she was slated to appear in Sith. Two death scenes were filmed for Shaak Ti's appearance in the film: one where Grievous executes her in front of Anakin and Obi-Wan, and one in the Jedi temple where Anakin stabs her in the back while she's meditating. Neither were used. She finally died in the videogame The Force Unleashed.
    • Gary Oldman was apparently intended to voice General Grievous, but Lucas' departure from the Director's Guild of America many years earlier prevented Oldman from taking part without legal action.
    • Anakin was originally supposed to just watch the entire fight between Palpatine and the other Jedi Masters, with Palpatine even having stolen Anakin's lightsaber to do so. The entire fight would have had Anakin debating on which side he was going to choose. They even filmed it, but they figured that Anakin simply watching the fight meant that he had already made his choice, so it was refilmed to the current one. Further, the final fight between Windu and Palpatine was supposed to be an all-over-the-place masterpiece, but due to Lucas wanting Ian McDiarmid (who played Palpatine) to do as many of his own stunts as possible (odd, considering his predilection for digital effects, and the fight later on in the movie between Palpatine and Yoda) it was reduced to, largely, Windu forcing Palpatine down the hallway and then a bit of a scrap in the office before Anakin showed up and both started talking to him.
    • There is a long-standing rumor that Qui-Gon was going to appear as a Force ghost, but which never happened due to Liam Neeson supposedly being in a motorcycle accident. He would later voice the Force ghost of Qui-Gon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
    • A 10 year old Han Solo was going to appear during the Battle of Kashyyyk as an orphan being raised by Chewbacca. He would have helped locate General Grievous by finding part of a transmitter droid that was sending signals from Utapau, allowing Obi-Wan to find and confront the villain. On the other hand, the cameo would have opened up some Plot Holes, such as Han not believing in the Force during A New Hope despite having met Master Yoda as a child.
    • Boba Fett was originally going to be the one to kill Mace Windu, finally exacting vengeance for the death of his father. This was cut because Lucas said the subplot was unnecessary and strained the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, as he felt there was no way a 16-year old could kill a seasoned Jedi Master. The plot about a young Boba Fett trying to kill Mace was recycled for the Clone Wars animated series.
  • Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015):
    • Rey was named Kira at an early stage of production.
    • R2-D2 was originally going to appear much earlier in the film alongside C-3PO, but the writers thought it would be better to present his arrival as a bit of delayed gratification by not having him reactivate until the final act.
    • Luke had a significantly larger role in the earlier drafts, but his presence was drastically reduced in order to avoid having him overshadow Rey and Finn.
    • Several different ideas for the movie's MacGuffin were put forth initially, with ideas such as the heroes trying to find the remains of Darth Vader or searching the underwater wreckage of the second Death Star in order to find info about sacred Jedi sites. In the end, it was decided that the search for Luke himself would be the main thread tying everything together.
    • Poe was originally supposed to die in the TIE Fighter crash near the beginning of the film, which made Oscar Isaac hesitant to accept the role. However, J. J. Abrams decided to spare Poe after finding a way to temporarily write him out of the story without killing him.
    • The screenplay had Maz Kanata going with the heroes to the Resistance base, and Lupita Nyong'o even filmed some scenes with Carrie Fisher. They were all cut after the creative team decided that Maz really didn't add anything to the final act. However, a shot of Maz giving Anakin's lightsaber to Leia did show up in the second trailer.
    • Back when Luke was going to be one of the main characters, there were plans for Hayden Christensen to cameo as the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker. His appearance would have constantly shifted between that of Anakin and Darth Vader, playing on the duality of the Force.
    • One of the movie's working titles was Shadow of the Empire, but this was changed to avoid confusion with the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project from the 90's.
    • Captain Phasma was originally going to be a man, and it's rumored that the creative team was looking at Benedict Cumberbatch to play him. Phasma was rewritten into a woman after the movie received some complaints about the lack of women in the cast, and the creators cast Gwendoline Christie in the role.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016):
    • Phil Lord and Christopher Miller almost made a cameo, and were even fitted into costumes on the set for it. It would have served as a foreshadowing to them directing the Han Solo film for the Star Wars Anthology series.

     Superman 
  • Superman: The Movie
    • Casting choices for the title role before Christopher Reeve was ultimately chosen included Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone and Paul Newman. Other actors considered included Dustin Hoffman, Clint Eastwood, and even Muhammad Ali. Say what you want about that choice, but that would be epic shit full-stop.
    • Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were looked at to direct, with the latter two having to pass due to being busy with Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
    • Before production started, Guy Hamilton was the initial choice for director, but for tax reasons he was relegated to directing in the UK for a limited time, and he was unable to take Marlon Brando to Italy due to an arrest warrant for Brando there for his involvement in Last Tango in Paris. He ultimately walked off the film before Richard Donner was hired.
    • The film's tie-in novel, Last Son of Krypton, was adapted from a movie treatment Elliot S! Maggin had been pitching to DC since 1974. When Mario Puzo was chosen to write the Superman movie instead, Maggin was given permission by Warner Books to turn his unused treatment into a novel. This explains why despite being marketed as a tie-in to the film (complete with an image of Christopher Reeve on the cover and photos from the movie inside), the two projects are clearly not in the same continuity.
  • Superman II
    • Richard Donner was fired from the film halfway through production, as producer Alexander Salkind wanted the film to be more camp and less expensive than the previous film. The result on the franchise was disastrous — many of the stars, including Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, refused to work with new director Richard Lester or participate in later sequels. It should be noted that however disastrous the result was for the franchise as a whole, the Lester version was still a critically acclaimed box office smash, and even Superman III enjoyed good box office (if not the critical acclaim) even if only because III piggy backed off the success of the first two films. Donner had reportedly been at odds with the Salkinds from early on over the tone of the film and reportedly did not get along with Pierre Spengler, a long time friend and frequent collaborator of the Salkinds. Marlon Brando was said to have been cut out of the film altogether because he was too expensive, not just for his paycheck but because he got a big bite of the first film's box office and was entitled to a big bite of the second film's box office as well, which the Salkinds decided they didn't like. Jack O'Halloran, the actor who played Non, later accused the Salkinds of having done a poor job managing the budgets for both films.
    • A bunch of scenes were shot for both versions, some of which went un-used in both versions, some of which were restored in extended TV cuts, such as a rather chilling scene (from the original theatrical Lester version!) of a young boy (the one who is supposed to be from the American mid-west yet talks with a British accent) being brutally killed by Non when he tries to ride away for help. This scene ends with an old woman exclaiming "He was only a boy!" to which Ursa cheerfully replies "Who will never become a man."
  • Superman III
    • According to Ilya Salkind, the original script was going to involve Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk (who would have played by Dudley Moore) teaming up against Superman, who would also meet his cousin, Supergirl, who was adopted by Brainiac.
    • The original title for the film was going to be Superman vs. Superman.
    • Alan Alda and Frank Langella were both considered for the role of Ross Webster. At least Frank got a role later.
    • Gus Gorman was meant to be the human guise of Brainiac.
  • Supergirl
    • Supergirl was originally going to wear a completely different costume with a more modern sensibility. The new suit was eventually discarded in favor of the classic, iconic costume, but made its way into the comics as the costume Supergirl wore until her death during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
    • Wes Craven was originally slated to direct the movie, but was replaced due to Creative Differences with Christopher Reeve. (This should already be obvious.)
    • Reportedly, the original budget was about $35 million, but the Cannon Group slashed it in half.
    • The planned soundtrack album (split between songs - mostly for nightclub scenes - and Alexander Courage's score) was cancelled when most of the scenes for which the chosen tracks were written got cut from the movie. (This was before the phrase "Music From And Inspired By" became the bête noire of film music fans.)
    • Quite a lot of material (45 minutes worth!) was cut for the movie's theatrical release, with some odd choices. One would think an extended action sequence of Superman fighting a super-powered opponent (the Bizarro-esque first incarnation of Nuclear Man) would be something you'd want to keep. Other deleted scenes make the plot hang together a little better, and there's a nice character scene between Lois Lane and the weakened Clark/Superman at Clark's apartment.
  • Another Superman movie after Superman IV went through an incredible sequence of Executive Meddling and What Could Have Been, before finally resulting in Superman Returns:
    • Cannon's Superman V:
      • Originally, Cannon considered doing a fifth movie using the deleted footage of Superman fighting Lex's original version of Nuclear Man, which was played by Clive Mantle. These ideas were quickly scrapped after Superman IV bombed.
      • One of the earliest script treatments would have had Superman fighting Brainiac and dying before being revived inside the shrunken city of Kandor and going off to stop Brainiac for good.
    • Superman Lives:
      • Some of the ideas tossed around included a giant mechanical spider, Supes being a normal guy who got his powers from his costume a'la Venom (the hell?), and Brainiac having a "gay R2-D2" as a sidekick. This was all real.
      • Kevin Smith was attached to the project at one point (after telling Warner Bros. execs that the other writers knew nothing about the mythos), and comics fan Alex Ford wrote a treatment that, though ultimately rejected, was praised as being well-written and respectful to the source material. Smith tells the story of his involvement in Superman more fully in his "Evening With Kevin Smith" DVD, including the connection to Wild Wild West.
      • Among the people considered for the role of Clark/Kal-El in Superman Lives was none other than Nicolas Cage. And it was at one point to be directed by Tim Burton. Chris Rock was also being looked at to play Jimmy Olsen, which would have made for a Race Lift. Batman also would've made a cameo during Superman's funeral.
      • Jon Peters has said Sandra Bullock was the main choice to play Lois Lane, while Tim Burton has said he wanted Christopher Walken to play Brainiac. Kevin Spacey was actually one of the top choices to play Lex Luthor, years before Superman Returns.
      • Superman would have worn multiple costumes, starting with a more "organic" variation of the classic red and blue tights. After his death, he'd briefly transition to a regenerative alien suit to help the healing process before merging with the Eradiactor, who would have had the ability to transform into a suit of Powered Armor. Superman would then don a black outfit with a silver S during the final battle, as producer Jon Peters thought the classic costume was "Too faggy." A test shot of the regenerative costume can be found here, while one of the red and blue suit can be found here.
      • After Kevin Smith exited, Superman Lives, writer Wesley Strick was brought on to take a shot at it, and the results, in the words of i09, "would have made Batman & Robin look like The Dark Knight." Read more about that script here.
      • After Strick was fired, Dan Gilroy was brought in. His draft was more character driven, and utilized Burton's idea of Superman as an outcast who felt isolated from the rest of mankind. Superman would start the film not knowing he was an alien, and would have spent his life up to that point trying to find an explanation for his "condition." After finally learning his true heritage, he would be devastated.
      • Gilroy's draft also had a subplot involving Superman worrying about his future with Lois. He would be afraid that their offspring might end up being a deadly abomination that could harm Lois while still in her womb.
    • Superman Reborn:
      • The film would see Superman die during his battle with Doomsday, only to transfer his life-energy into Lois Lane and cause her to have a Mystical Pregnancy and give birth to Superman's child, who would rapidly mature into a 21-year old within three weeks and then become the new Superman. No word on what drugs the execs involved in this were taking.
      • One draft of Superman Reborn featured Clark having romance problems with Lois Lane and eventually going to see a psychiatrist just before his death. Other villains featured in the script included the Parasite and Silver Banshee.
    • Superman: Flyby:
      • J. J. Abrams' draft for the film. Let's see... Krypton is designed to be like Naboo, and doesn't blow up; Original character Kata-Zor, brother of Jor-El, would start a civil war on Krypton; Kal-El is shipped away by his parents because of a coup. Clark's powers first manifest as a young boy, when he saves Ma Kent from a rapist landlord. Lex Luthor is a CIA agent pursuing proof of extraterrestrial life... because he's an alien himself. Kata-Zor's son, Ty-Zor, would bring three Kryptonians to Earth to fight Superman. Superman dies in the climax, so Jor-El, still imprisoned on Krypton, kills himself so he can go into the afterlife and talk Superman out of being dead. And so much more what-the-fuckery.
  • A scene that was never filmed for Steel would have had John Henry Irons visiting a disability counselor after Sparky ended up in a wheelchair. The counselor (in a wheelchair himself) would note John's S-Shield tattoo, and talk about the responsibility that comes with that symbol, inspiring him to become Steel. Unfortunately, Christopher Reeve couldn't make it, and without him in the role the entire point of the scene was gone.
  • McG almost directed a Batman vs Superman movie before dropping out to do Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. The movie would've been Darker and Edgier and featured a down-on-his-luck Clark Kent who had just recently been divorced by Lois, as well as a Batman struggling to get over the deaths of Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon. In a bit of Hilarious in Hindsight, Christian Bale was approached to play Superman just a few years before Batman Begins entered production.
  • A sequel to Superman Returns dubbed Man of Steel (no relation to the actual movie of that title) was in the works for a while, with Bryan Singer wanting Darkseid to be the Big Bad and Michael Dougherty wanting Brainiac. Singer claims the film would have been more violent and action-packed to answer the complaints about Returns allegedly being boring and too focused on personal drama.
  • Man of Steel
    • A few years before she was cast to play Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot was offered the Faora role. She turned it down because she was pregnant at the time, but says it obviously worked out for the best.
    • The original script ended with Zod once again being trapped in the Phantom Zone alongside his soldiers. Christopher Nolan strongly opposed Snyder's decision to have Superman kill Zod instead.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
    • Zack Snyder has said that had WB chosen to do a proper sequel rather than the crossover with Batman, Metallo would have been the villain.
    • There were plans for the Riddler and the Joker (with Jared Leto reprising his role from Suicide Squad) to appear, but Snyder felt that they would have taken away too much focus from Batman and Superman.
    • Jesse Eisenberg was originally going to cameo as Jimmy.

     Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
    • Originally, a young Foot ninja named Shinsho was intended to be killed by getting brutally beaten by Tatsu due to the Foot Clan's failure, but executives at New Line Cinema felt the scene was too violent for a PG-rated film. The dialogue was re-dubbed with the kid comforting him saying "you'll be alright," to show Tatsu only injured him. Shinsho's death was retained in the tie-in novelization.
    • There are a handful of scenes that were deleted from the final cut for reasons unexplained. They would have given the four turtles much more Character Development, expanding on April and Casey's romance, and would have put later scenes into a different context:
      • April and Casey's reaction to Mikey's "turtle wax" joke was originally one of relief after he goes through a severe Heroic B.S.O.D. where he destroys a punching bag and part of the barn's wall
      • An extended training sequence where Leo proves a point by turning his mask around and fighting blind followed by the other Turtles taking turns doing the same. The scene rather famously has Donatello sporting a straw hat.
      • Various scenes of the Turtles training on their own or in pairs trying to master the technique Leo shows them earlier
      • Some of the April and Casey scenes involve him trying to help her with a stuck truck door while she declines and exits on the driver's side. Another leads into the scene of the two of them talking on the porch swing where the night before she shows him her drawings the Turtles but tries to hide the one she did of him in a beanie, they both share a laugh over it.
      • A game of "ninja hot potato" where the Turtles toss around an apple and the holder has to defend against the other three while taking a bite out of it. It makes the later scene where Raph finishes off an apple after defeating a squad of Foot ninjas a Call Back.
    • The original ending had April quitting her reporter's job in order to pitch the story of their adventures to a comic book company while the Turtles listen in outside the window. When the editor rejects her idea as being too unrealistic Mikey falls off the building.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
    • The original draft for the film had Professor Perry revealing himself to be an Utrom in the ending. This was cut allegedly because New Line didn't want people to confuse him with Krang. Much foreshadowing ended up left in the movie though. Perry immediately recognizes what happened to the Turtles upon first meeting them, and even describes the very accident that led to them coming in contact with the ooze down to the year. He even has suspiciously portentous lines like "Sometimes the best way to hide is right out in public," and "You're the last one, aren't you?" If you pay attention, during the two scenes at T.G.R.I., there appears to be a large rock-like object encased in glass with numerous computers plugged into it. And April later mentions in her news report that the company mysteriously (and literally) "disappeared". The most bizarre effect of this though is the resulting Non-Indicative Title - the "secret of the ooze" is the fact that it's alien in origin, but got cut from the movie!
    • The draft also revealed Bebop and Rocksteady planned to appear in the movie, but Executive Meddling from New Line resulted in them getting replaced with Tokka and Razhar.
    • Bits of dialogue explaining where Casey Jones was were cut for reasons unknown. The dialogue never went further than "He was out of town," and caused huge confusion when he inexplicably shows up in the third movie, also without any explanation on why he was gone in the second movie.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
    • Rumor has it that had the original draft for the second movie been taken up, this film would have been based off the Turtles in Space story arc from the comics, rather than the time travel plot it got instead.
  • A fourth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (excluding the All-CGI Cartoon TMNT) went through a lengthy phase of Development Hell and Executive Meddling before being ultimately canceled in favor of a Continuity Reboot in 2014.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: The Next Mutation (no relation to the live-action series of the same name):
      • It would have dealt with the turtles and Splinter finding out that their mutations haven't completed and they develop new powers. Mikey would have developed a human-like appearance that would allow him to go to the surface, Donnie's eyesight would have faded and he would make special goggles that would allow him to see better, Leo would change his skin to a chrome-like surface, Raph would turn more monstrous, and Splinter would bulk up. This movie was quickly scrapped once Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III flopped, and the idea of accelerated mutations was introduced in later seasons of the Fred Wolf cartoon.
      • This page features concept art of what the Turtles would have been portrayed as in the movie. No word yet on what kind of Nightmare Fuel the New Line executives went through.
      • There were plans to have a fifth turtle in the film, whose name is known only in the early concepts as "Kirby." This idea later resurfaced in a short-lived live-action television series called Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, where the turtle is a female named Venus.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: The Foot Walks Again: A Darker and Edgier sequel that would have ignored the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and feature the return of the Foot Clan and Super Shredder. Not much is known about this movie, except that it removed the idea of accelerated mutations whilst keeping "Kirby." New characters would be introduced in the movie, and also feature an Evil April. The concept art was also slightly modified.
    • Untitled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot (2011): After the All-CGI Cartoon TMNT, which continued the story after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, failed to meet expectations, Warner Bros. decided to reboot the live-action film series, with input from TMNT franchise owner Mirage Comics. This film was to be a direct sequel to the original movie that would outline the turtles' origins, which would have rendered the sequels, as well as the animated movie, non-canon. Like the failed The Foot Walks Again, this was to have a Darker and Edgier plot, but this time written by John Fusco and based off the original black and white comics from Turtles creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Thanks to script disagreements from Paramount Pictures (who was to co-produce the movie with Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, in their second collaboration following Watchmen), the film didn't get very far when Nickelodeon acquired the rights to the TMNT property, directly resulting in Warner Bros. losing the film rights to the series, Fusco getting booted out, and causing this project to be scrapped entirely. Nickelodeon, with Paramount's input, decided to do things their own way, and what we instead got was a complete Continuity Reboot released in 2014.
  • Speaking of that reboot:
    • In earlier scripts, Casey Jones was going to be present and be the main protagonist. The movie would've had the turtles as aliens rather than mutants. The Shredder was changed to a white, American military officer named "Colonel Schraeder," with the Foot depicted as a black-ops military unit rather than a ninja clan. Schraeder would've eventually been revealed to be an alien in disguise and a Composite Character of himself and Krang. This was supposedly scrapped after negative fan reaction, as well as vocal displeasure from those who were previously involved in the franchise.
    • Eric Sacks was originally announced to be the film's incarnation of the Shredder. But massive backlash to "White Shredder" from fans resulted in the film having scenes reshot with a more traditional version of the Shredder.note  This change was made so late in development that Sacks as the Shredder was used in the Nintendo 3DS adaptation.
    • K. Todd Freeman was cast as Baxter Stockman, according to IMDB, but all his scenes were cut from the film, presumably for the above re-shoots.
    • Concept art has revealed that at one point, Rocksteady and Bebop from the original TV show were going to appear as well. The sequel, Out Of The Shadows, features them proper.
    • Minae Noji filmed more scenes as Karai, including a fight scene with April. She would have dominated most of the fight, only for Vernon to knock her off balance with his camera, allowing April to finish her off. The entire fight sequence was cut for unknown reasons, essentially making Karai's role in the film a mere Cameo.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows:
    • Its working title was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Half-Shell, before the trailer officially revealed its real subtitle.
    • CM Punk auditioned for the role of Rocksteady, but lost it to fellow WWE wrestler Sheamus.

     X-Men Series 
As the franchise has had various projects in Development Hell since the 90's, the X-Men series is full of ideas and proposals that never made it into the actual films.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men, 1991 film written by Gary Goldman, rights optioned by Carolco, to be produced by James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment.
  • X-Men:
    • Andrew Kevin Walker (Fight Club) wrote an unused script in 1994, which had Xavier recruit Logan to assist Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel. They fight the Brotherhood of Mutants, which consisted of Magneto, Sabretooth, Toad, and the Blob, who are trying to conquer New York City, while Henry Peter Gyrich and Bolivar Trask attack the X-Men with three 8 feet (2.4 m) tall Sentinels. The script focused on the rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops, as well as the latter's self-doubt as a field leader. Part of the backstory invented for Magneto made him the cause of the Chernobyl disaster. The script also featured the X-Copter and the Danger Room.
    • Joss Whedon, who was hired to script-doctor the first film, did a complete rewrite. It got thrown out except for a couple of lines, the most notorious being:
      "Do you know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else."
      • The standard explanation of this is that among the other things removed were Toad having a Catch Phrase that made this line an Ironic Echo. In the released film, it's a Non Sequitur instead.
    • Earlier drafts also had the Sentinels as major villains, and featured Jubilee as Wolverine's Kid Sidekick.
    • Originally, Kevin Nash was going to play Sabretooth, with Tyler Mane as his stunt double.
    • Singer Glenn Danzig of Misfits was the first choice for Wolverine (back when Carolco Pictures held the film rights) since he fit the character's build. After the long Development Hell period, Danzig had aged and it was decided to seek other options.
  • X2: X-Men United:
    • Originally, Magneto would have rescued Professor X from Dark Cerebro instead of trying to Kill All Humans, and escaped with the other X-Men. This was rewritten to give Storm and Nightcrawler something to do and to keep Magneto's ruthlessness.
    • The Sentinels were also supposed to appear as part of Stryker's attack on the school, and concept art of them was included in the movie's DVD release.
    • Originally, Ray Park was to return as Toad and get into a fight with Nightcrawler; however, schedule conflicts prevented this.
    • Hank McCoy was supposed to be shown turning into Beast when the "destroy all Mutants" plan was launched toward the end of X2, showing that his human-looking self was some sort of disguise.
    • Archangel was supposed to appear as one of Stryker's lab experiments at Weapon X. Though this was cut, X-rays of his wings can still be seen.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand:
    • According to an interview with Michael Dougherty (the screenwriter of X2: X-Men United), his vision for The Last Stand was vastly different, and would have included the Phoenix/Jean being a cosmic force that attacks various locations across the world (and chooses to leave of her own volition at the end of the film), Cyclops building the Danger Room as a way to cope with his guilt and make the team stronger, and Rogue coming to terms with who she is and choosing not to take the cure.
    • Joss Whedon was looked at to direct, but he turned it down due to his commitment to the Wonder Woman movie that was in development at the time.
    • Matthew Vaughn was hired as the director, but backed out due to family issues. He later admitted that the insane deadlines imposed by Fox also contributed to his decision to leave.
    • When Vaughn was still slated to direct, his frequent collaborator Jason Flemyng was nearly cast as Beast. Flemyng later wound up playing Azazel in First Class.
    • There was an unfilmed Danger Room sequence where Bobby and Kitty are training and are then supposedly blasted to pieces by Sentinels, only to sit up as (projected) skeletons as the team looks on.
    • Gambit would have appeared, played by Channing Tatum.
    • Summer Glau auditioned for the role of Kitty Pryde (using Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men No. 5 as her audition material!). The fandom would have rejoiced.
    • The final film had a large amount of footage cut from it, some of which still hasn't been released in any form. There was much more footage of supporting mutants like Psylocke and Colossus (who not only had a fight with Juggernaut, but even confronted Magneto at one point), and several extra endings, including a rumored one where Pyro returns to the school after being presumed missing in the final cut.
    • The scene with Bobby and Kitty ice skating on the frozen pond after Xavier's funeral originally ended with them kissing. The kiss was dropped because several members of the production crew were disturbed by it, since (as stated on the DVD) Shawn Ashmore looked much older than Ellen Page.
    • On the DVD commentary for the second film, one of the writers mention their ideas for adapting the Dark Phoenix Saga, with Jean committing suicide by telekinetically forcing Scott to look at her and then removing his visor.
  • As an infamous Troubled Production, X-Men Origins: Wolverine had a lot of changes and rewrites:
    • Earlier drafts were Darker and Edgier, with Skip Woods claiming he wanted a gritty, R-rated origin story.
    • The tone and overall direction of the film changed multiple times. At one point, Gavin Hood had wanted to realistically portray Wolverine as a Shell-Shocked Veteran suffering from severe PTSD thanks to all the wars he had fought in, but the studio felt this was would be too dark for a popcorn superhero movie.
    • The relationship between Logan and Victor was originally going to be more vague, in keeping with their portrayal in the comics. Hood decided that they should explicitly be blood-related, as he felt a Cain and Abel plot would make for a more dramatic story.
    • Prior to the character's inclusion as a cameo, there had been plans for a solo Deadpool movie at New Line. This fell apart when Ryan Reynolds and David Goyer chose to work on the ill-fated Blade: Trinity instead.
  • X-Men: First Class:
    • This movie initially started out as a spin-off focusing almost exclusively on Magneto's backstory which was meant to be part of a planned X-Men Origins film series, but the idea was then discarded in favour of a prequel that also included Professor X as a major character (he only had a supporting role in the original Magneto script) along with his first class of mutants.
    • Bryan Singer was the first choice for the director's chair, but he had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Jack the Giant Slayer. Considering the success of the follow-up X-Men: Days of Future Past, it makes you wonder what his vision of First Class would've been like.
    • Sunspot was originally going to appear as a member of the team, but got cut due to being too expensive to render onscreen. This would've offset some of the complaints about the Monochrome Casting after the fates of Darwin and Angel. This idea ended up getting recycled for the next X-Men movie.
    • The film was originally going to have a complex psychic action sequence, which ended up getting cut due to worries that it would seem too similar to Inception.
  • The Wolverine
    • Early drafts would have had Logan as the only mutant character.
    • Initially, Darren Aronofsky was chosen to direct the movie, but dropped out because he was uncomfortable working out of the country away from his family.
    • Guillermo del Toro was interested in directing the movie, but passed on the offer in order to make Pacific Rim instead.
    • Jessica Biel was in talks to play Viper at one point.
    • Adam Ross, a sculptor at Legacy Effects, created a prop for The Wolverine that revealed a yellow and black costume, complete with Wolverine's trademark mask. It went unused, though it's possible it would have been used for when a repowered Magneto and a revived Xavier recruited Logan during the movie's epilogue.
      • It was later confirmed that the prop was for an alternate ending where Yukio gives Wolverine the costume after they get on the plane together.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
    • Anna Paquin was originally meant to return as Rogue for the future scenes, and can be seen in the film's trailer. Unfortunately, most of the footage was omitted, leaving Rogue absent from the film until the very end. A special director's cut called X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut, featuring all of the Rogue scenes, was released on DVD the following year.
    • Scenes between Beast and Mystique that were meant to reference their romantic relationship from First Class also ended up on the cutting room floor. They too ended up being included in The Rogue Cut.
    • Angel, Azazel, Riptide, and Emma were intended to return, until they decided to go with the Days of Future Past story and killed the former Hellfire Club offscreen.
    • According to Singer himself, Deadpool and Gambit were originally supposed to appear in the film.
    • Among the concept art that has surfaced for the film is a costume concept of Jubilee for the future scenes, indicating that she was among the characters considered for the film.
    • Psylocke was also going to appear as one of the future X-Men. Like Jubilee, she ended up Saved for the Sequel.
    • The mutant who helps the heroes break Magneto out of jail was originally going to be a teenage version of Cain Marko, aka The Juggernaut. The script was rewritten to feature Quicksilver in the jailbreak sequence instead, and Josh Helman, the actor who was cast as Marko, was chosen to play a young version of William Stryker (the Big Bad of X-2) to make up for his role being cut. This led to an Artifact line where Wolverine mentions that Quicksilver is a mutant he knows from the future, despite never having met him in any of the previous movies.
    • Havok was initially slated to have a slightly larger role, wherein he would've been kidnapped by Trask Industries and eventually killed by the prototype Sentinels during a test run.
    • Matthew Vaughn's plan for the film was wildly different. Days of Future Past would have been the third installment of the rebooted series, with the second being a First Class sequel set in the 1970's. The sequel would have introduced a new, younger actor as the 70's version of Wolverine, with plans to have him meet the original Hugh Jackman iteration in the eventual Days of Future Past movie, which would have been set in the 1980's.
    • There were discussions about including Cable in the Bad Future scenes, but they never went anywhere.
  • Deadpool:
    • As the movie spent a long time in Development Hell, a lot of elements changed over the years. While the finished script is similar to the earlier drafts, one big change is that the original didn't have any X-Men other than Colossus.
    • In the original drafts, Angel Dust's role as The Dragon was split between Wyre, Sluggo and Garrison Kane. Kane was cut because the CGI required for his transformable cybernetic arms would have been too expensive.
    • Tim Miller has said they were looking for a PG or PG-13 rating at one point.
    • Tim Miller offered the Colossus role to Daniel Cudmore, the actor who played the character in X2, The Last Stand, and Days of Future Past. Cudmore turned it down because he didn't like the idea of only doing motion capture work while another actor dubbed over him.
    • The teenage X-Man partnered with Colossus was supposed to have been Cannonball at one point, but Miller and the writers felt he was too goofy to work as the Straight Man of the movie. They settled on Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who they felt was a much better fit due to being a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Olivia Munn was one of the candidates to play Vanessa, but she passed because she wanted to play an actual superhero instead of a love interest.
    • There were plans for Cable to appear, but it was decided it'd be better to have him show up in a potential sequel.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse:
    • The movie was supposed to feature the debut of Channing Tatum's Gambit at one point.
    • Zendaya Coleman was in the running to play Storm.
    • Psylocke was originally going to have a more practical looking black outfit, but Olivia Munn demanded they go with her purple costume from the comics instead.
    • Professor X was originally going to be the fourth Horseman of Apocalypse, but the creative team realized he didn't really do much to justify the role. Psylocke was chosen as his replacement.
    • Wolverine had a bigger role in previous drafts, and was going to act as a "drill sergeant" of sorts to the younger X-Men. His part was cut down to an extended cameo because the creators felt that having him mentor the new X-Men made Mystique redundant.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WhatCouldHaveBeen/FIlm