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What Could Have Been: F Ilm
Because of length, this page has been split.

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    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:
    • 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, taking on the quadrupedal trait of its host. However, the creature very obviously moved like a dog since it was played by a whippet in an alien costume, and it was almost impossible to film it from the front because the dog did not agree with having its face completely concealed with an alien mask. It looked very silly.
      • 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.
  • Alien 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.
  • Sketches in the "Making of" book for Prometheus 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.

    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.
    • Let's not forget Sid Sheinberg, head of Universal who 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 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. 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.

  • Batman
    • It would have featured Robin as a supporting character, as explained by storyboards seen on the official DVD set. As Batman is chasing The Joker and his thugs through a flea market at the end of the second act, the Joker's car crashes into a circus pole (where the Graysons are performing their trapeze act). All of the Graysons die, except for Dick, who ends up joining Batman in the chase screaming "You killed my parents!" The idea was disliked by the production team, and it was quickly removed from the screenplay.
    • There was to have included a subplot (which would have occurred about the same time as Dick Grayson's family was killed) in which the Joker took over a public ceremony, held Mayor Borg hostage (causing Borg to experience a Heroic BSOD), 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).
    • They wanted Tom Selleck to play Bruce Wayne, but Tim Burton insisted on casting Michael Keaton.
    • Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan, 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. 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 contractural demands, Burton's second choice for the Joker was Tim Curry.
    • Willem Dafoe was said to have been a candidate for the part of the Joker.
    • 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.
  • Batman Returns
    • Robin was again planned, this time with Marlon Wayans being cast and fitted for wardrobe (and even had a protoype 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 would've only scarred 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 - which is just as well as she probably wasn't suited to the part anyway.
    • Dustin Hoffman had expressed interest in playing the Penguin; It was Jack Nicholson who suggested to Burton that he cast Danny De Vito, whom Nicholson had recently worked with on Hoffa.
    • 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.
  • 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 the bodies of two guards, 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.
    • 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.
    • Rene Russo was Tim Burton's choice for Chase Meridian, but Nicole Kidman was cast instead after Schumacher took the helm. 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".
  • 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.
    • There were several aborted sequel projects between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins, including:
      • Batman Triumphant written by Mark Protosevich, 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.
  • 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, 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 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".
  • 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. Actor 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 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, up until 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.
  • 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 2 was an adaptation of a novel by Walter Wager called 58 Minutes, which focused on an off-duty cop who has to stop a group of terrorists at an airport. The plot and characters were reworked to include the McClane character, while adding much more action sequences.
  • 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 WW, 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • What if Coppola had listened to his friends who told him that switching back and forth between Michael and Young Vito was too jarring, and to just stick with Michael's storyline?
  • 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.
    • What if the studio had given Coppola and Mario Puzo the six months they wanted to write the film, instead of only six weeks?
  • What if Mario Puzo had lived long enough for he and Coppola to make their proposed Part IV, which would have concluded the entire saga? (After Puzo's 1999 death, Coppola lost any interest in continuing the franchise).
    • Sadly, 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?:
  • The first American remake of Godzilla (1998) 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. Sadly, what we got instead was a movie starring Ferris Bueller and a giant CGI pregnant lizard.
    • The American remake 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, Godzilla (1998) 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.
    • On this point, another Reason the Gryphon never manifested was because Toho veto'd the idea, and proposed Mothra and King Ghirdorah instead. Both were turned down because they were extremely expensive.
    • 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. Fans, to this day, still wish that this film had seen the light of release. Gryphon ended up becoming an alien creature that would have used the DNA of cougars, horses and bats (as well as snakes for it's 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.
  • 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.
    • Additionally, one of Kaneko's other ideas for a Godzilla film had him fighting a mutated astronaut known as "M".
  • 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.
    • 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. Reportedly, Anguirus had also been considered to be in it as well.
    • 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.
  • Godzilla vs. Redmoon would have been a film by Tsubaraya Productions, 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.
  • Other planned movies include early drafts for Mothra vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Terror Of Mechagodzilla, Destroy All Monsters, and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II.
  • 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 roller kaiju, apparently dead. It's not seen in the movie.
    • 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 psychedelical 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 Claymation). It details about Godzilla somehow dying and his soul traversing the universe, and ultimately becoming one with the Cosmos, all while being told in a style similar to 2001.
  • Godzilla Final Wars had a number of scrapped elements and kaiju, such as Gorosaurus (replaced by Zilla) and Mechagodzilla (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 Tokyo-Goji, 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 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) 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.

    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 Cuaron'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 Crowning Music of Awesome 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.

    Mad Max Series 
  • The Road Warrior, Humungus was originaly 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.
  • 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.

     Marvel Cinematic Universe 
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • An early draft of the script for Iron Man (before Marvel Studios was making its own movies) would've have kept Howard Stark alive, and had him adopt the War Machine identity as the film's antagonist.
  • Rumiko Fujikawa was initially going to appear in Iron Man 2, 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.
  • Bruce Banner's Kid Sidekick Rick Jones was present in early drafts of The Incredible Hulk, but ended up being removed once Edward Norton rewrote the script.
  • Thor 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.
    • The Enchantress was initially going to appear as well, and concept art of her design can even be found online.
    • Tom Hiddleston actually auditioned for the role of Thor.
  • Joss Whedon has confirmed that The Wasp was supposed to have been part of the team in The Avengers, but had to be written out of the script due to the high volume of characters being introduced.
  • There were apparently plans to have Valkyrie of The Defenders appear in Thor: The Dark World, but this never came to fruition. Concept art for several different potential designs can be found online, however.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Before being cast as the Human Torch in the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, Michael B. Jordan was up for the role of The Falcon (which ultimately went to Anthony Mackie) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • Mackie had also read for a part in Iron Man 3 (presumably Eric Savin or Jack Taggart), but did not get the role.
    • 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.
    • 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 of The Winter Soldier, 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.
  • Ant-Man 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 prevented Ant-Man and the Wasp from showing up in The Avengers and pushed the movie back 5 years and 8 movie releases, and led to the departure of the director Edgar Wright.
  • Early drafts of Guardians of the Galaxy 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.

    Planet of the Apes Series 
  • You can see most of the scripts commented below here:
  • Planet of the Apes:
    • 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 commisioned 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.
    • Caesar's final speech ended with the words "your end is now!", and was then followed by the apes mauling Governor Breck to death and Caesar rethinking his position into a less violent one.
    • 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 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 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 emisions 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. 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 lobotomyzed "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 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-enginered 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 insterest 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 
  • 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 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.
  • Hugh Wilson was originally scheduled to direct Their First Assignment, but was fired and replaced by Jerry Paris. Wilson would head off to direct Rustlers Rhapsody.
  • 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 a cameo at Tackleberry's wedding to Sgt. Kirkland at the end of the second film.
  • 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 refused to reprise his role as Zed in Assignment Miami Beach due to not being able to come to a financial agreement with the producers. As a result, Tim Kazurinsky ended up not being involved either because the producers 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.
  • Bubba Smith refused to reprise his role as Hightower in Mission to Moscow because the filmmakers did not want to bring back Marion Ramsey as Hooks. However, in an interview, Leslie Easterbrook specutlated that Smith's reluctance to travel to Moscow may have had to do with the small beds he was often forced to sleep in when travelling overseas for Police Academy promotional press tours.

    Spider-Man Series 
This series took many many years to get out of development limbo, and so the number of canceled and scrapped projects and/or elements related to the Spider-Man films are staggering:
  • In 1986, director Albert Pyun was hired to direct a "Spider-Man" movie for Cannon Films. Scott Leva was hired to play Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and filming was set to take place at De Laurentiis' studio in Wilmington, North Carolina. With a $6 million budget, the Brooklyn sets were built for the film on the Wilmington stages, a teaser trailer was released and publicity photos of Leva as the character were taken. Pyun had originally planned to film two weeks worth of scenes for "Spider-Man" before Leva's nerdy Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, then Leva would undergo a supervised eight-week workout regimen to build muscle mass while director Pyun would film "Masters of the Universe Part 2", and filming for "Spider-Man" would resume for the scenes after Peter gets his spider powers. However, both projects were scrapped. Albert Pyun was then given the task to make a movie out of the 2 million-worth of costumes and sets already built for both projects, came up with a script on a single weekend, and 24 days of rushed filming and editing later, cult-classic Van Damme's Cyborg was released.
    • The head honchos at Cannon had a major case of Comically Missing the Point when they wrote a script that centered around Peter Parker getting kidnapped by a Mad Scientist (presumably Curt Connors/The Lizard) and being mutated into a spider/human hybrid creature. Understandably, Stan Lee was not pleased with this treatment and ordered a rewrite, which led to....
  • James Cameron's aborted treatment for Spider-Man, that would have followed the web-slinger as he establishes his powers in high school. In the treatment, the main villain is Carlton Strand (a.k.a. Electro), a former thief who was electrocuted and given very strong powers, which he has used to rise to the top of a large corporation. Peter Parker's origin follows the comic book closely (bitten by spider at university lecture), but goes off on a tangent once he starts falling for Mary Jane Osborn. After he finds out that her flashy image is a front and that she comes from a broken home, he sees Flash Thompson hit her, then proceeds to knock him out and destroy his car. Uncle Ben still dies, and his killer is captured by the police. Then, Parker seduces MJ by kidnapping her, taking her to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, and doing a Spider mating dance for her. Strand teams up with a man named Boyd (Sandman) and kidnaps MJ, taking her to the top of the World Trade Center. The climax of the film is a pitched two-on-one battle with Spider-Man rescuing MJ and taking on both Strand and Boyd at the same time. He eventually wins by using one of the WTC's generators to fuse Sandman into molten glass, and ends up throwing Strand off the building. Carolco Pictures was to have produced this, but financial and contractual problems prevented it from happening.
    • Cameron also rewrote a draft in 1993 that would have featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doc Octopus. His catchphrase would have been "Okey dokey then", and he would've insisted his tentacles be called "weldos". He would have also had a lab assistant that he constantly abused throughout the movie. Say what you want about it, but that is some epic shit right there.
    • This is why Electro and Sandman didn't show up in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, which was created around the time Cameron's film was in development. Electro did eventually appear... as the Red Skull's son. By that time the Cameron script had been trashed.
    • Cameron's original screenplay tried to present Peter's growing powers as a metaphor for puberty, complete with him waking up in bed and covered in sticky white webbing.
  • Eddie Brock was originally going to show up in the 2002 Spider-Man film in a cameo role discussing his photograph assignments with J. Jonah Jameson (an "Eddie" is still mentioned in dialogue). Peter was also originally going to have mechanical web shooters (just like the comic books). Both these scenes were shot (Peter testing out his mechanical shooters appeared in a 2001 E3 trailer, and an actor did an interview talking about playing Brock in the first film), but were never released on DVD.
    • Before the Green Goblin power suit was used in the film, there was an attempt at a more organic looking Green Goblin. The original mask was scrapped when Willem Dafoe complained about the animatronics in the mask, and a new metal mask (modeled after his face) was sculpted and used in the final film.
    • According to the actor himself, Hugh Jackman was supposed to have a brief Cameo as Wolverine. Jackman actually showed up in New York to film the scene, but the entire plan was scrapped when the crew couldn't get access to the Wolverine costume from X-Men.
  • Screenwriter Michael Chabon's proposed script for Spider-Man 2 had several major changes from the final product which would have better explained certain plot points. Peter is still living with Harry, and doesn't move into his own place until halfway through the film, while Doc Ock is roughly the same age as Peter, and wants to go on a date with Mary Jane. Meanwhile, Peter losing his powers is not caused by a lack of confidence, but by Ock giving him an inhibitor chip that slowly drains his powers out.
    • According to this interview, there were originally plans to include five villains in the sequel, with the resulting story treatments being an absolute mess. Chabon was able to convince the production to scrap planned appearances by Black Cat and a transformed Lizard before he was fired.
  • According to The Spider-Man Chronicles (a making-of book about Spider-Man 3), the original plot for the film was going to revolve around The Vulture (who, based on the comments in the book, was to have been played by Ben Kingsley) and Sandman. There was no Venom nor Gwen Stacy in early drafts either (Executive Meddling meant both characters were shoehorned into the film taking the place of Vulture and a random woman against Sam Raimi's wishes).
    • Also, Gwen was originally the Distressed Damsel at the end of the film and Mary Jane would be the one to convince Harry to help Peter against Sandman and Venom. But it was switched to Mary Jane (AGAIN!) to better justify Harry's assistance. Kirsten Dunst was not pleased.
    • The union between Venom and Sandman also made alot more sense in production, with Venom just offering the cash Sandman needs to save his daughter in exchange for helping him kill Spidey, but during the battle, Sandman's daughter would come and tell her father that she could not be cured and was going to die, and wanted to die with her daddy being a good man, not a criminal. All of this is arguably much more satisfying than what made it in to the actual film.
      • The villains' meeting would have seen Eddie coming across Flint pretending to be sand in a playground for his little girl to play on. Talking to Flint, Eddie would have convinced him that his girl may be cured yet.
      • It is also rumored that John Jameson was originally to make a reappearance, unknowingly bringing the symbiote back from his astronaut mission.
    • Originally, the butler was to be another illusion of Harry's, representing his good side. Even though this would have cleared up a massive plot hole (the butler explaining to Harry that his father's wounds were not an accident after such a long time), it was cut because the story was already saturated with plots.
    • Also, there were many scenes that were shot but never released on DVD including a montage of Peter (in his black suit) taking down criminals and leaving them strung up, tons of character-building moments, a confrontation scene between Captain Stacy and Eddie Brock (where Gwen dumps him at her father's house) and Peter freaking out after he looks in a mirror and sees a nightmarish version of the Venom symbiote screaming at him.
    • Due to how cluttered the story was getting, it was considered at one point to split the movie into two films. This did not happen because the producers couldn't think of good climax for the first part.
  • The cancelled Spider-Man 4 included Felicia Hardy, whose father would turn out to be The Vulture (to be played by John Malkovich). Peter would eventually end up killing the Vulture, which (understandably) pisses off his new fiancee, so in his depression he throws away his costume and abandons his superpowers (a little too redundant considering Spider-Man 2.) Interestingly, Malkovich was a candidate to play the role of the Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man movie.
    • Anne Hathaway would've appeared as Felicia Hardy, only instead of being the Black Cat, she would've been the Vulturess. Though her playing a character who WAS the Black Cat in the comics is Hilarious in Hindsight seeing as she ended up playing Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • According to some reports, Vulturess was later written out, with Peter essentially cheating on Mary Jane (to whom he was married) with Felicia. No wonder Raimi quit the project...
  • During pre-production on The Amazing Spider-Man, Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games) sent in an audition reel in a bid to win the part of the lead character.
  • David Fincher's Spider-Man, which would have dealt with Peter's origins in an Up style montage during the first ten minutes, then start proper with Peter meeting Gwen after "[settling] into being a freak."
  • Mary Jane was originally going to appear in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, portrayed by Shailene Woodley, but her scenes all ended up on the cutting room floor. Rumors circulating online claim that since Gwen Stacy died in the second film, the producers felt that introducing a Replacement Love Interest in the same one would feel inappropriate. Woodley herself approves of the decision and reportedly thinks her character's exclusion is better for the story.
    • The original script explained a lot of the elements that came across as Plot Holes or Out of Character moments in the final film. Among other things:
      • J. Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson both appear in supporting roles, and Peter's role as a Daily Bugle employee plays a larger role in the plot.
      • Harry's Powered Armor is explicitly explained as something Norman Osborn developed to work in tandem with the serum developed by Peter's father.
      • Peter actually gives his blood to Harry in order to save his life, but the blood mutates Harry and causes his transformation into the Green Goblin.
      • Dr. Ratha from the first film appears as a minor antagonist.
      • The Rhino's role was originally even smaller, and was more or less a Cameo at the end of the movie. The Rhino was also supposed to be completely unconnected to the opening heist pulled off by the Russian mobsters.
      • Gwen briefly clings to life after breaking her back, and manages to tearfully urge Peter not to give up just before she dies.
      • Richard Parker is inexplicably revealed to still be alive, and he is the one who spurs Peter become Spider-Man again after Gwen's death.

    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 I: The Phantom Menace:
    • 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.
    • 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:
    • 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 Expanded Universe 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.
  • Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:
    • 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.
  • Episode IV: A New Hope:
    • 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 considered for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi before being cast as Grand Moff Tarkin.
    • 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.
  • Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back:
    • If you want to see what the second film would have been without Han Solo, Alan Dean Foster was commissioned to write a novel that the second film would have been: Splinter of the Mind's Eye.
    • 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:
    • 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 
    • 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.

  • A comic based on the original script and featuring much of the ideas above was made in 2013, titled The Star Wars.

     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.
  • 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 Sabertooth, 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 was supposed to be shown turning into Beast when the "destroy all Mutants" plan was launched toward the end of X-2, showing that his human-looking self was some sort of disguise.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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) and his first class of mutants.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
    • Anna Paquin was originally meant to return as Rogue for one of the future scenes, and can be seen in the film's trailer. Unfortunately, this scene was cut, leaving Rogue absent from the film until the very end.
    • 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 supposed to appear in the film. Gambit has at least been confirmed to have been Saved for the Sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse.
    • 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.
    • 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.

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