Saturday, July 20, 2024

Marvel Has Finally Paid Off Iron Man’s Deleted Post-Credits Scene

The MCU has officially delivered on Iron Man’s deleted post-credits scene, which would have resulted in a dramatically different Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The MCU has paid off Iron Man’s original post-credits scene after 14 years and four phases. Iron Man, a breakthrough superhero film that managed to distinguish out from an already crowded genre – The Dark Knight was released the same year – established the groundwork for the MCU’s success. Still, not much had been decided about the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Iron Man was released.

Though Iron Man was the first MCU film, it followed a string of other Marvel superhero films. By the time Iron Man was released, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, the Fantastic Four duology, and the first three X-Men films had all been released. In many respects, Marvel’s film past influenced Iron Man, including a deleted post-credits scene that would have established a much bigger universe.

Spider-Man and Mutants were mentioned in Iron Man’s original post-credits scene.

In an alternate Iron Man post-credits scene, Nick Fury mentions “gamma accidents, radioactive bug bites, and assorted mutants” to Tony Stark, a reference to the Hulk, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, respectively. While Marvel Studios did not own the film rights to Spider-Man and the X-Men, a crossover film incorporating various Marvel franchises that were in development at the time was most certainly contemplated. This would have necessitated a complex coordination across numerous studios, which is why it never happened. Still, it’s interesting to speculate on what the MCU would have been like if Spider-Man and the X-Men had been present from the start.

Given that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 with Tobey Maguire as the main character was released barely a year before Iron Man, the “radioactive bug bites” could only be a reference to Maguire’s Spider-Man. Similarly, the X-Men film franchise had already released three films, and the reference to “assorted mutants” would have acknowledged the Fox mutant universe. Spider-Man and mutants finally made their way into the MCU, albeit in a very different setting. Following Sony and Marvel’s agreement, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man joined the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, two reboots later. The X-Men, on the other hand, are now available to Marvel Studios as a result of Disney’s purchase of Fox.

Marvel now faces the opposite issue of when the MCU began.

Interestingly, Marvel today has the opposite dilemma that the Marvel Cinematic Universe faced when it first began. The MCU was established on the Avengers, particularly Iron Man, who had never been the dominant superhero in Marvel Comics. The Avengers-related characters trailed Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four in terms of popularity and number of previous adaptations. Even without those Marvel titans, the MCU managed to establish a record-breaking film series. The MCU now features Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Fantastic Four, but the majority of the original Avengers are either gone or steadily leaving the series.

The MCU may now rely on the original Marvel Comics headline superheroes, but it can’t bring back the original Avengers lineup unless time travel and the universe are involved. The MCU will continue with a somewhat incomplete universe, as the Fantastic Four will never encounter with Iron Man or Captain America, for example. Similarly, the X-Men will make their debut in a world where superheroes are already well-known and celebrated. The only way the MCU can correct this is if Avengers: Secret Wars rewrites the franchise’s canon, as in an in-universe reboot, resulting in a new MCU in which all heroes have been present since the beginning, akin to what Iron Man’s deleted post-credits scene teased.

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