Avengers: Endgame essentially serves as one big tribute to the first eleven years of the MCU. This is especially evident in the way the film revisits the events of previous Marvel movies, but according to co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the story of Thor: The Dark World was originally going to factor into the Avengers: Infinity War sequel in a very different manner. Bear in mind that a few spoilers lie ahead.
As you’re likely aware, Endgame sees Earth’s Mightiest Heroes start their mission by journeying back to three different points in MCU history: New York during The Avengers, Asgard during The Dark World and Morag during Guardians of the Galaxy. However, in an interview with Fandango, McFeely recalled how New York wasn’t always in the plan. Instead, Tony Stark was initially going to accompany Thor to Asgard, where he’d get into a fight with a familiar figure:
“Yeah, our first draft was a version where Tony and Thor go to Asgard, because I like the idea of Tony going, like, in theory going to Asgard and seeing science versus magic, and stuff like that. And then he fought Heimdall, who could of course see him even though Tony had an invisible stealth suit on or something.”
Though the abandoned sequence was also supposed to be set during the events of The Dark World, McFeely explained that it would’ve been revisited a slightly later point in the film, when Thor’s fight with Malekith had already been won:
“[W]e did that because there is, in Dark World, to get technical about it, during that time when the Reality Stone is there, the Space Stone is also in the vault. So at the end of Dark World you might remember that Volstagg and Sif go to the Collector and pass off the Reality Stone because they don’t want to keep two stones in one place.”
In a previous interview with The New York Times, Markus mentioned that this alternate Asgard sequence was also going to feature longer scenes with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. But according to McFeely, plans changed when co-director Joe Russo suggested that the Avengers instead look for the Space Stone in New York:
“I think Joe Russo read it and he goes, ‘Why aren’t we going to Avengers? It’s only the most exciting movie.’ And so we went yep, let’s do that.”
While Markus was initially concerned that revisiting The Avengers would come across “pandering and playing the greatest hits,” he eventually decided that a New York sequence would be “the most fun” route they could take. He may be right, but that still leaves us to wonder how that fight between Iron Man and Heimdall would’ve turned out. Perhaps there’s an alternate timeline where that’s the version of Avengers: Endgame we got to see.