Avengers: Endgame Considered Decapitating Captain America

Captain America closeup in Avengers Endgame

Being a PG-13 franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t exactly known for scenes of brutality. Sure, there are definitely moments of violence, and audiences will never forget the crushing sensation felt during the final moments of Avengers: Infinity War, but the comic book movies have never been about going too extreme.

That being said, Avengers: Endgame actually came somewhat close to that line, as at one point during the development of the film there were discussions about Thanos straight-up cutting off Captain America’s head (or de-cap-itating him, if you will).

This very special bit of information was revealed earlier today during our San Diego Comic-Con interview with Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. It was meant to be a part of the film’s third act, specifically when 2014 Thanos makes his way to the year 2023 to do battle with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and you can watch them discuss the scene in the video below:

For those that don’t remember, Avengers: Endgame’s big third act action starts when 2014 Nebula – having captured and switched places with her double from the future – uses the team’s time travel device to bring her adoptive father to the year 2023. As it happens in the finished film it’s notably a chaos-inducing move, as it doesn’t take long for Thanos and his thousands of minions to unleash epic destruction on the upstate New York Avengers facility, but there was a point when the Mad Titan’s entrance was even more insane.

According to Stephen McFeely, there was a thought at one time that Thanos might have been a tad busy prior to Nebula transporting him through time, and while waiting for his daughter’s big move had decided to pay a special visit to Earth. During that trip, the insanely powerful alien would have unleashed epic destruction, which would have included murdering every member of the then-existing Avengers. Said the writer,

I think the idea was maybe he had even gone to the Earth of his own time, destroyed it, killed the Avengers, and waited until [Nebula] opened the rift, and he would walk out… It was The Hellscape. Giant Man's body would be behind him, the Avengers have all just been totally destroyed, and he throws something out in front of the Avengers and they go, 'Oh my God, it's Steve [Rogers'] head.'

Pretty disturbing, right?

Of course, this move wouldn’t have affected 2023 Captain America, as the decapitated Steve Rogers would have been from an alternate timeline (a point stressed by Christopher Markus), but that still probably wouldn’t have made it any less of a horrifying moment. Just because Cap wasn’t dead doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have been somewhat traumatized by seeing his own body-less head – or as Markus put it:

Even in that scenario he was still going to dance with Peggy; he would just be a little more creeped out.

Obviously this bit would have been extremely notable had it been included in Avengers: Endgame’s runtime, but there were specific reasons why Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely ultimately decided that it didn’t belong in the movie. As you might guess, the biggest problem was that it might have been perceived as confusing by fans. Some folks already have a hard enough time wrapping their brains around the fact that 2023 Nebula kills 2014 Nebula in the blockbuster, and introducing the idea that Thanos cut off Captain America’s head in the past before traveling to the future definitely would have exacerbated that puzzlement.

Impactful as it could have been, it just wasn’t worth potentially losing a big part of the audience at a crucial moment in the film. Stephen McFeely explained,

You have a lot of opportunities to lose people along the way. So that's why you have things like Hulk explaining time travel and Rhodey and Scott Lang go, 'But what about Hot Tub Time Machine?' That kind of stuff. So we want to make sure that everyone's in the car as we keep going down the road.

The good news is that Avengers: Endgame still totally works without the bit, and stands as one of the best films released in 2019 so far.

The movie is still playing in theaters nationwide, but it won’t be long until it makes its home video debut – set for digital release on July 30th, and 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on August 13th. We’ll have plenty more coverage coming your way leading up to the release, and be sure to keep coming back here to CinemaBlend for plenty more of our exciting San Diego Comic-Con coverage.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.