A single scene changed blockbuster filmmaking forever. But an alternate take of Nick Fury’s post-credits appearance in 2008’s Iron Man would have given us a different Marvel Cinematic Universe altogether.
At the Saturn Awards, which recognizes achievements in science-fiction, fantasy, and horror in movies and TV, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige presented an unused take of Samuel L. Jackson’s post-credits cameo appearance as Nick Fury from the end of Iron Man.
The scene, which Feige explained came from a “vault” of unused material that may or may not ever see the light of day, will be included in an upcoming home release collection of the Marvel film franchise.
In this version, a more confrontational, antagonistic Nick Fury makes explicit mention of “mutants” and “radioactive bug bites,” while also setting up the Hulk as the villain of the Avengers and not one of its members. Whoa.
Here’s the full lines from the scene:
Nick Fury: “As if gamma accidents, radioactive bug bites, and assorted mutants weren’t enough, I have to deal with a spoiled brat who doesn’t play well with others and wants to keep his toys to himself.”
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.): “Who the hell are you?”
Nick Fury: “Nick Fury. Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.”
Tony Stark: “What are we avenging?”
Nick Fury: “Whatever the hell we want.”
What a difference just a few lines of dialogue makes. Not only does the scene suggest the impossible inclusion of X-Men and Spider-Man in the then still-incubating MCU, it is also the second example of the Hulk possibly being the villain, or at least an “unusual problem” for 2012’s The Avengers.
In 2008, Iron Man was just one big superhero movie from the newly formed Marvel Studios. Its destiny had yet to be determined, with a post-credits scene clueing in only the most die-hard fans at what might come.
Eleven years and billions of dollars later, it’s now one of the most important scenes in modern pop culture history, drawing a direct line to movies like The Avengers (2012), Captain Marvel (2019), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
But this unused post-credits scene from the Saturn Awards would have given fans a different MCU. By confirming the X-Men and Spider-Man at such an early stage, Marvel seemed intent on trying to connect Iron Man to the already-existing X-Men and Spider-Man films at competing studios, Fox and Sony.
The Hulk, whose solo film rights still belong to Universal, was already game for the MCU as evidenced by Robert Downey Jr.’s cameo in the post-credits of The Incredible Hulk. Thing is, the Hulk scene suggested Bruce Banner would be either a villain or some antagonistic force for the Avengers than one of their main allies. Obviously, those plans were undone.
Given the legal barriers that still exist (sorry, Spidey fans) which prohibit all the Marvel superheroes being together, Marvel would have had a monumental task had it actually tried to achieve what it almost teased. But imagine a superhero ecosystem, pre-The Avengers, where three studios (four, if you count Universal — hard to tell where Universal stood early in this period) worked together to allow the X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Avengers play ball, all at once.
That’s what this scene hints: A universe where all your heroes were already going to work, play, and fight together, fully assembled. While that didn’t happen, at least not for another ten or so years, it’s sometimes a lot of fun to just imagine, what if?