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Original 'Avengers' writer explains his dramatically different version

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
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It’s the nature of the business, especially in the world of $100 million studio tentpoles: Films are going to get written, and rewritten, and probably rewritten again and by different screenwriters. And it is also natural to wonder what could have been.

Take 2012’s The Avengers, Marvel’s inaugural assemblage of its A-team superheroes (the studio’s third, Avengers: Infinity War, hits theaters next week). Before writer-director Joss Whedon came on board to unite Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and company, the studio hired Marvel Cinematic Universe vet Zak Penn, fresh off The Incredible Hulk (2008), for scripting duties.

Penn, a prolific scribe whose credits include Last Action Hero and X2, explained how his version differed from Whedon’s in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment (watch above) while promoting his latest hit, Ready Player One.

Watch Penn talk about two of the more surprising Easter eggs in Ready Player One:

“All of the dialogue was rewritten, almost all of it,” said Penn, who received a “story by” credit on The Avengers‘ final cut. “I think the fundamental story elements were put in place beforehand.”

Among the major differences: Penn had Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as the Avenger who is captured and interrogated (in the film it’s Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow) in a nod to the Ultimates comic. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) goes on a rampage in New York (“But it didn’t fit the restructuring,” Penn explained). Loki (Tom Hiddleston) did not arrive until much later in the story. And there’s a scene where everyone attempts to pick up the iconic hammer owned by Thor (Chris Hemsworth), which of course played out onscreen in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Penn will be the first to tell you that the latter sequence was not a revolutionary idea, given how many Avengers comics have been written over the years. “There are a lot of scenes where people try to lift Thor’s hammer in the comic books. By the way, everything [happens] if you read through the comic books. There’s been every iteration.”

Again, it’s all part of the business. Penn rewrote Ready Player One from a draft by the author of the novel, Ernest Cline.

“Obviously I’d be a hypocrite sitting here talking about Ready Player One and I said, ‘Oh, my draft was perfect and they should’ve done it that way,’” he said of Avengers, which became the third-highest-grossing film of all time during its release (and currently sits at No. 6). “Clearly, they didn’t screw it up.”

Watch a brief history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

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