15 Marvel Movies And Shows That Were Supposed To Be Way, Way Different Than What Ended Up Onscreen

Just like their comic book storylines get reimagined over the years, Marvel's movie plans continuously evolve throughout their development.

Marvel Studios / Via giphy.com

Sometimes, it takes years for a planned project to make it on screen, and even then, it might look completely different than what the studio originally had in mind.

Marvel Studios / Via giphy.com

Here are 15 Marvel movies and TV shows that were originally supposed to be way different:

1.At a 2006 Comic-Con, the Blade: The Series producers teased their plans to introduce Moon Knight into their show.

Moon Knight

They mentioned Marc Spector in the pilot, but the show was canceled after only one season.

Marvel Studios / Disney+ / Via youtube.com

A few months later, Marvel Studios and No Equal Entertainment announced their plans to produce a Moon Knight TV series.

character lying awake in bed

The only detail they shared was that it would be live-action.

Marvel Studios / Disney+ / Via youtube.com

However, no other announcements regarding the series with No Equal Entertainment were ever made, and in 2022, Moon Knight premiered on Disney+.

close up of one of the characters in a museum
Marvel Studios / Disney+

2.Originally, Spider-Man: No Way Home was supposed to come out after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so screenwriters Erik Sommers and Chris McKenna planned for Doctor Strange to already know "the dangers of screwing with [the multiverse]."

Doctor Strange casting a time spell in front of Peter Parker
Matt Kennedy / © Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

However, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the Multiverse of Madness release way back, the Spider-Man screenwriters "changed it so [Strange] was a person who doesn’t know that much about the multiverse."

Spider-Man on top of a car while Doctor Strange watches from the side

McKenna told Variety, "That makes it even more frightening, to start fooling around with these things, because it’s the fear of the unknown. Either way, he was the voice of reason going, ‘You don’t mess with the fate of an individual’ — and Peter Parker being naive enough to go, ‘Why not? Why can’t we save these people?'"

Matt Kennedy / © Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.She-Hulk was supposed to make her live-action debut in 1990's The Death of the Incredible Hulk, but she never made it into the movie.

cartoon She-Hulk

The character had made her comic debut a decade before. She appeared in the animated series The Incredible Hulk as well.

Disney Xd / Disney XD via Getty Images

However, in the early '90s, director Larry Cohen planned to make a She-Hulk movie starring Brigitte Nielsen.

Brigitte Nielsen in a pant jumpsuit with a flowy belted skirt
Pool Benainous / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Unfortunately, those plans fell through for unknown reasons, but a She-Hulk series starring Tatiana Maslany is set to premiere soon on Disney+.

Tatiana Maslany at a red carpet event
Tommaso Boddi / WireImage / Via Getty

4.In 2001, Dreamworks procured the rights to produce The Hands of Shang-Chi and tagged in director Stephen Norrington.

close up of Stephen Norrington
Amanda Edwards / WireImage / Via Getty

However, after those plans fell through, the film rights reverted to Marvel — who announced plans for their own Shang-Chi movie in 2005.

Shang-Chi getting ready to fight

Shang-Chi was one of 10 superhero properties that the studio included in its early MCU Phase One plans.

Jasin Boland /© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

Marvel initially wanted to introduce the hero in a The Avengers post-credits scene in a bid to gain traction with audiences in China.

The Avengers standing in the middle of a ruined and burning street

The studio asked DMG Entertainment Motion Picture Group, which is based in China, to co-produce The Avengers. Introducing a Chinese character — either Shang-Chi or the Mandarin — in a post-credits scene would've been part of their partnership. However, DMG turned down the offer.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Plans for a Shang-Chi movie didn't come to fruition until 2021 with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Shang-Chi ready to fight
Jasin Boland /© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.In the early '90s, Marvel and Full Moon Entertainment worked out a deal to create a Doctor Strange movie.

Doctor Strange in his mansion
Jay Maidment / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

However, their plans fell through painstakingly close to the scheduled production, and Full Moon Entertainment lost the film rights.

a character leaning their hands on a window in despair
Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Rather than completely scrap the project, they decided to rewrite the script just enough to shield themselves from copyright infringement, resulting in 1992's Doctor Mordrid.

Doctor Mordid with a crow on his arm

In the movie, Doctor Mordrid is a sorcerer who must protect the world from the Dark Dimension. He also dresses similarly to Doctor Strange, lives in a New York City brownstone that's similar to the Sanctum Sanctorum, and battles a Dormammu-like other-dimensional villain named Kabal.

Full Moon Entertainment. Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Marvel eventually brought Doctor Strange to the silver screen in 2016.

  Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection
Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

6.In 2004, Lionsgate partnered with Marvel Studios to make a Black Widow movie written and directed by X-Men co-writer, David Hayter.

close up of David Hayter

It was also going to be produced by Avi Arad, the co-founder of Marvel Studios.

Tara Ziemba / Getty Images

In an interview with FemPop, Hayter described the script: "She’s a freelance mercenary, and she’s called back to where she was brought up to face her past. What I tried to do was use the backdrop of the splintered Soviet Empire — a lawless insane asylum with four hundred some odd nuclear missile silos. It was all about loose nukes, and I felt it was very timely and very cool."

Black Widow

He spent an entire year working on his screenplay, and he was so invested in the project that he named his newborn daughter Natasha.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

However, as he began working on the final draft, several movies about female vigilantes were released. Three days after the abysmal release of Aeon Flux, the studio told Hayter, "We don’t think it’s time to do this movie."

Aeon Flux
Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Natasha Romanoff eventually made her MCU debut in 2010's Iron Man 2, and she finally got her own Black Widow movie in 2021.

Black Widow crouching on the floor
Merrick Morton/©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

7.Early in the drafting process, The Avengers screenplay writer/director, Joss Whedon, wasn't sure if Scarlett Johansson was going to return for the movie, so he planned to replace her.

Natasha in an office
Merrick Morton/©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

He told Thrillist, "I wrote a huge bunch of pages starring The Wasp. That was not useful."

the wasp
Null / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

Johansson, of course, did reprise her Iron Man 2 role, solidifying Black Widow's status as an original Avenger.

black widow with a huge machine in the background
Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

8.In 1990, Universal acquired the film rights for Iron Man and planned to produce a low-budget movie with director Stuart Gordon and writer Ed Neumeier. The storyline was rumored to follow an older version of Tony Stark as he came out of retirement.

Iron Man with his hands ready to launch an attack

However, due to the failure of other Marvel movies released around the same time, the project never made it beyond pre-production.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

In 1996, Universal sold the film rights to Fox, who had Stan Lee and Jeff Vintar draft a script where MODAK — who's a giant evil head — was the main villain.

the cartoon version

Both Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise expressed interest in playing Tony Stark, but the film was stuck in pre-production for years.

Disney Xd / Getty Images

In 2000, Fox sold the film rights to New Line Cinema, who put the story through multiple rewrites that bear some similarities to the eventual storyline that made it onscreen.

close up of Robert Downing Jr. as Iron Man

Tim McCanlies, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio's draft included a Nick Fury cameo that was meant to set up the character's solo movie. [Now, Nick Fury is getting his own Disney+ series.]

Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Jeff Vintar's revision introduced the Mandarin as the main villain. [A fake version of the Mandarin was the villain in Iron Man 3, but the real Mandarin appeared in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.]

Finally, in David Hayter's rewrite, Tony Stark decided that Stark Industries should stop producing weapons, which angered his still-living father, Howard Stark. So Howard teamed up with his son's biggest rival, Justin Hammer, and became a villainous version of War Machine. [Justin Hammer appeared in Iron Man 2.]

New Line Cinema expressed interest in having Joss Whedon as director before deciding to pursue Nick Cassavetes.

Null / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

However, New Line Cinema's film rights expired right before they could finalize a deal with director Nick Cassavetes, so the film rights went back to Marvel Studios — who finally released Iron Man with Paramount Pictures in 2008.

Tony Stark testing an Iron Man hand
Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

9.An early draft of the Iron Man 3 script had a different villain — Maya Hansen.

Maya Hansen

"I liked the idea, like Remington Steele, you think it’s the man but at the end, the woman has been running the whole show," screenwriter Shane Black told Uproxx.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

However, the screenwriters "were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand and [Marvel corporate] changed [their] minds because, after consulting, [they've] decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female."

Maya Hansen on the ground with cuts on her face

Black said, "We had to change the entire script because of toy making."

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

So they rewrote the script to make Aldrich Killian the main villain instead and reduced Maya's role.

Aldrich Killian on his cell phone in an office
Zade Rosenthal/©Walt Disney Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

10.The version of Thor: The Dark World that director Alan Taylor wanted had "a slightly more magical quality" and "weird stuff going on back on Earth because of the convergence that allowed for some of these magical realism things."

the fictional city in Thor

He told the Hollywood Reporter, "The version I had started off with had more childlike wonder; there was this imagery of children, which started the whole thing."

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

However, "there were major plot differences that were inverted in the cutting room and with additional photography" — resulting in a much different movie than the one he envisioned.

Thor stopping in the middle of battle

"People [such as Loki] who had died were not dead, [and] people who had broken up were back together again," Taylor said.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

11.Originally, Thor: Ragnarok was supposed to be much darker in tone — in fact, it was supposed to be the darkest Marvel movie yet.

a character posing in a dark and ominous outside
Null / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

However, during the movie's development stage, Marvel Studios separated from the overarching Marvel Entertainment, which gave Kevin Feige and the filmmakers a lot more creative freedom.

the bridge leading to the main city gate in Thor
Null / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

This newfound creative freedom enabled director, Taika Waititi, to inject comedic energy into the film. He told Entertainment Weekly, "A lot of what we’re doing with the film is, in a way, kind of dismantling and destroying the old idea and rebuilding it in a new way that’s fresh."

Taika Waititi directing Chris Hemsworth during filming

"Everyone’s got a slightly new take on their characters, so in that way, it feels like [this is] the first Thor," he said.

Null / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

12.The original Eternals edit had a "really bleak" ending "with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone."

the group of super heroes pose on a rocky ground

Director Chloé Zhao told Empire, "I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, 'I don't know what to do.'"

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

However, that ending didn't go down well with test audiences, so it was reworked.

two of the characters walking outside

"Also, it's the MCU, and you want to be excited for what's next," Zhao said.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

13.Captain America: The Winter Soldier cowriter, Christopher Markus, pushed to make MODOK the film's main villain. He also wanted to cast Peter Dinklage in the role.

close up of Peter Dinklage

“In [the first movie], the great thing is [the visual effects and makeup team] really pulled off the Red Skull. It doesn’t look like a mask. it looks like it’s fully integrated into his flesh. And I want to see what they can do with MODOK," he told the LA Times.

Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images

However, no one else at Marvel seemed "to be on [his] side."

Chris Pine looking out a window

"There are the favorites I'm always trying to wedge in, but the problem is you can't wedge in a giant, flying head. It's not like MODOK can pop up in one scene," Markus told Nerdist.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Eventually, the movie's villain title went to Alexander Pierce. MODOK has yet to make his MCU debut.

Alexander Pierce with his arms outstreched
Zade Rosenthal/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

14.In 2011, Jessica Jones was slated to premiere on ABC — featuring Carol Danvers (who wasn't Captain Marvel) as the lead's best friend.

At the time, the comic book version of Carol was Jessica's best friend as well as a hero called Ms. Marvel.

At the time, the comic book version of Carol was Jessica's best friend as well as a hero called Ms. Marvel.

Chuck Zlotnick / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel / courtesy Everett Collection

However, ABC passed on the show, and before Netflix picked it up, Carol became Captain Marvel in the comics and got her own movie — forcing showrunner, Melissa Rosenberg, to abandon the character altogether.

Captain Marvel in her uniform

Rosenberg told IGN, "In the book, the powers are very out in the open and the themes of that are about ‘the other,’ and in the cinematic universe that’s not the mythology. So there was a lot that I had to move away from, just in terms of sheer plot, and Carol Danvers got her own movie."

Chuck Zlotnick / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel / courtesy Everett Collection

So Rosenberg replaced her with Trish Walker, and Carol Danvers made her MCU debut in 2019's Captain Marvel.

  Chuck Zlotnick / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel / courtesy Everett Collection
Chuck Zlotnick / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Marvel / courtesy Everett Collection

15.And finally, in the early '90s, Marvel partnered with Wesley Snipes to bring Black Panther to the silver screen.

close up of Snipes at an event

Snipes had three different versions of the script written.

Ron Galella, Ltd. / Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

However, the kind of technology that could accurately recreate Wakanda onscreen didn't exist yet.

Wakanda

Snipes told Collider, "We didn't have the technology we have now. Pixar didn't exist. None of the things, the CGI capabilities that we have now existed."

Null / ©Walt Disney Co./courtesy Everett / Everett Collection

Snipes went on to star in Blade instead, and Chadwick Boseman starred in Black Panther in 2018.

Boseman as Black Panther walking away from a fire
Marvel / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection