Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame follow below.
The third act battle scene of Avengers: Endgame is not just one of the highlights of the movie, it’s one of the highlights of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. But an alternate, even longer battle scene was actually written and shot before being cut from the film entirely.
As the Infinity War sequel approaches its, ahem, endgame, all the Marvel characters descend on Avengers headquarters, which has been decimated by a time-traveling Thanos. What ensues is a splash page come to life, as directors Joe and Anthony Russo masterfully weave in a series of expertly-executed payoff moments for the characters fans have come to know and love. It all flows beautifully and never becomes monotonous. But according to screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, getting there was a process.
Speaking to the New York Times in full spoilery detail, Markus and McFeely reveal they shot “an even much longer battle, with its own three act structure”:
McFEELY It didn’t play well, but we had a scene in a trench where, for reasons, the battle got paused for about three minutes and now there’s 18 people all going, “What are we going to do?” “I’m going to do this.” “I’m going to do this.” Just bouncing around this completely fake, fraudulent scene. When you have that many people, it invariably is, one line, one line, one line. And that’s not a natural conversation.
MARKUS It also required them to find enough shelter to have a conversation in the middle of the biggest battle. It wasn’t a polite World War I battle where you have a moment.
One moment that was at risk of being cut was the “female Avengers” bit, which Markus and McFeely say was a point of much debate:
McFEELY There was much conversation. Is that delightful or is it pandering? We went around and around on that. Ultimately we went, we like it too much.
MARKUS Part of the fun of the “Avengers” movies has always been team-ups. Marvel has been amassing this huge roster of characters. You’ve got crazy aliens. You’ve got that many badass women. You’ve got three or four people in Iron Man suits.
Indeed, while it’s fair to criticize Marvel for making 20 movies before introducing a female-led superhero movie, it’s also hard to deny the goosebumps induced by that female Avengers moment at the end of Endgame. So I personally come down on the side of McFeely—ultimately, it’s just really cool.