(Warning: The following contains major SPOILERS for Captain America: Civil War. If you've somehow managed to make it this far into 2016 without having seen it and having had the entire plot ruined for you, then proceed with caution and all that...)
Now, it can be tempting to assume that the way things are was pre-determined - that we were fated to see the world, and the small moments of wonder within it, turn out exactly as they have. To believe, in effect, that the world around us is exactly what it was meant to be, and to derive comfort from that fact. And yet, when looking back at how very different things could have turned out in almost every arena of life, it's surely possible to - wherever you fall on the spectrum of predestination vs free will - be surprised at just how intriguing the alternative - 'counterfactual' - ways things could have turned out can be.
Which, of course, is just as true of our favorite movies as it is of major international conflicts or political assassinations. Had Tom Selleck wound up as Indiana Jones, would the franchise have been such a huge hit? Would a reality in which George Lucas opted not to make the Star Wars prequels be a brighter one, or a horrifying, Episode VII-less dystopia from which no light could escape? If the rights to the X-Men hadn't been sold to Fox, would the Marvel Cinematic Universe have actually happened? Some potential changes, though, are far smaller. Ant-sized, in fact. A case in point?
Ant-Man Was Nearly On Team Iron Man In Captain America: Civil War
Y'see, it turns out that there was at least one stage in the early development of Captain America: Civil War where the filmmakers were actively considering putting Ant-Man (and his Giant-Man form) onto Iron Man's team, and having him battle Cap in spectacular fashion. The reason we know this? The guy who created the concept art for the scene, Andy Park, just posted an image of it to Twitter:
Which of course begs the question:
Was Ant-Man Really Going To Be On Team Iron Man?
After all, the inherently anti-authoritarian Scott 'Ant-Man' Lang would seem to be an unusual pick for Iron Man's side - one that would presumably have had to be recruited via blackmail (or at least a little coercion). Well, it turns out Civil War directors The Russo Brothers had a similar thought, since - as they recently revealed in an interview with ComicBook.com - the idea of Ant-Man joining team Iron Man didn't last long... and wasn't necessarily under serious consideration anyhow. As Anthony Russo put it:
"Very early on in the process, before there's even much of a narrative thought out at all, we do begin a process of visual exploration and just in terms of what kind of imagery excites us from the comics, and what kind of possibilities exist in the movie when we sort of translate the comic into the movie... Marvel has a very talented visual development team, a lot of great artists, and we just kind of go fishing for ideas and imagery that could either spark narrative ideas or what not."
In other words, the image of Ant-Man battling Cap was created as a visual hypothetical - one that the Russos didn't really end up considering once they started work on the film's detailed plotting:
"What you were seeing there, I think once we started getting into the narrative, pretty early on, Ant Man was allied with Cap. I think the story mechanics went that way pretty quickly. It wasn't like he was bouncing back and forth between sides. That artwork must have predated that."
Or, in other words?
Ant-Man Was Always Heading In The Direction Of Team Cap
And yet, Anthony Russo's suggestion that they began the process with an open mind towards the two teams - and a willingness to embrace the most exciting imagery - does seem to suggest that there's another reality out there where the idea of a giant Ant-Man fighting Cap trumped the notion of him being tripped up by Spider-Man in the manner of a two-legged AT-AT.
Now, sure, it's tough to imagine anything quite matching up to the joyful geekiness of that particular Star Wars-referencing moment, but that doesn't make it any less possible that we could - just maybe - have seen Ant-Man battle Cap instead. While we're on that particular subject, though:
What Other 'Counterfactual' Superhero Moments Could We Have Seen?
There, are, after all, a whole lot of theoretically possible alternative superhero realities out there - whether they're dependent on casting decisions, plot re-orientation, or even just sheer, unadulterated dumb luck.
You can check out a few of the more intriguing recent examples just below:
- The Fantastic Four Movie We Almost Saw Last Year Sounds Incredible
- We Almost Saw a New Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Wait, Wonder Woman Was Almost in... Guardians of the Galaxy?
- We Almost Saw David Bowie In The Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Loki Almost Won Thor's Hammer In Thor: The Dark World
And, of course, the Marvel cast could have been anything that they wanted to be - including an unnecessarily powerful dance crew:
The bigger question there, though?
What do you reckon? What alternate superhero moments - or movies - would you have liked to have seen? Let us know below!