Within the first 20 minutes of Avengers: Endgame, Thor lops off Thanos’ head with a single swing of Stormbreaker, but in one early draft of the story, it was one of the Avengers that lost their head in brutal fashion. There’s even a precedent in Marvel Comics.
During a Friday Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con called “Writing Avengers: Endgame”, the film’s writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely revealed that in the original draft of Endgame, Thanos waltzed into the present day and threw down Steve Rogers’ severed head from circa 2014 to taunt the Avengers at the climax of the movie. Endgame’s directors, Joe and Anthony Russo, confirmed this at a panel right after dubbed “A Conversation with the Russo Brothers.”
Such a brutal taunt from the Mad Titan never would’ve worked in a PG-13 Disney movie where Black Widow drowns her sorrows in a peanut butter sandwich rather than a tall glass of vodka. Millions would have been traumatized. What’s even more shocking than the image of Cap’s severed head rolling down the battlefield is the fact that Thanos beheading Captain America happened in Marvel Comics under very different circumstances.
Thanos once murdered Cap by clapping his head with an awkward, grotesque, “splort.”
It happened as a part of Jeff Lemire’s recent run writing Thanos, a comics arc in which Thanos is dying from an illness and tries to court the goddess Death to stop that from happening. He was issued a challenge in a place called the God Quarry during Thanos #10 and entered into an illusion where he was a heroic member of the Avengers. Upon breaking free, he vented his frustrations out on Sam Wilson’s head.
Yes, this happens some time after Steve Rogers has already passed the mantle on to his former companion, but the image of Thanos removing Captain America’s head is still burned into all our minds.
It’s unclear exactly how this awful beheading would have fit into the convoluted time travel plot of Avengers: Endgame, but Professor Hulk does tell us that Back to the Future is bullshit when it comes to presenting time travel.
Killing Captain America in the past wouldn’t wipe future Steve from existence. He still would’ve been able to wallop Thanos in the face with Mjolnir, so at least we can still have that image in our minds amidst this horrible nightmare of an early draft.
Avengers: Endgame will be released on digital July 30 and Blu-ray August 13. In both versions, Steve Rogers lives and keeps his head.