In October 2014, Marvel Studios announced their Phase 3 lineup. Although it's been in a state of flux, ever since then we've assumed Marvel Studios are always playing the long game. But that's not always been true. In a surprising interview with Thor writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz, Screenrant have revealed two surprising changes in Thor that radically reshaped the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
1. Agent Coulson
Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson is a central part of Marvel's Phase One films, climaxing in Joss Whedon's The Avengers. But things might have been very different. As Miller and Stentz drafted Thor, they realised that they needed a force on Earth who would be working in opposition to Thor. They decided on S.H.I.E.L.D.
At first, Marvel were concerned. S.H.I.E.L.D. were the good guys! But the writers reassured them that, by the end, Thor would be on the same page as S.H.I.E.L.D. Then came the next problem:
"And then they’re like ‘Well, you can have S.H.I.E.L.D., but Sam Jackson’s holding us up in negotiations so we don’t know if we can have Nick Fury. And we’re like ‘Well, how about that Clark Gregg guy from the first Iron Man, he was great and he popped! Can we have Coulson?’ And they’re like ‘Coulson, Coulson, Coulson… oh him! Yeah, you can have him.’... They ended up giving him a bigger role in Iron Man 2 because they liked how he was popping in Thor. Clark Gregg actually sent us t-shirts as a thank you."
Let's face it, it wouldn't have been hard to create a brand new S.H.I.E.L.D. character. Instead, Miller and Stentz asked for Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson. Gregg's involvement in Thor led to his being brought into Iron Man 2. Had Coulson not been so important to Phase 1, he wouldn't have become such an integral part of The Avengers, and we wouldn't have gotten him featuring in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
How different the world would have been!
As well as building up the importance of Agent Coulson, Thor also featured a cameo from Hawkeye. But it turns out that cameo almost didn't happen - the original script just described a S.H.I.E.L.D. sniper! The producers were more than a little bit panicked.
"And they ‘But if we get Hawkeye, we’ll have to get a real actor.’ And then they realized we can just shoot the A-Side, and then when we cast for The Avengers we’ll just go back and shoot a thing with that actor."
That whole cameo - which laid the foundations for the character becoming part of the Avengers - almost didn't happen. Now, in this case, I'm pretty confident Whedon would have created a Hawkeye anyway; he's enough of a comic book fan that I'm certain he wouldn't have been able to resist the character. But it was surely easier having the character already a part of the MCU!
So there you have it! Things aren't always set in stone over in the MCU; in fact, many of the things we know and love came together by a mix of creativity and luck. Personally, I for one am glad things turned out the way they did!