In the run up to Captain America: Civil War, there were two characters that were the subject of much speculation: General Ross and Spider-Man. Thaddeus Ross' involvement in Civil War was intriguing not only because he was portrayed by the same actor (William Hurt) as in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk — leading us to wonder if his daughter, Betty Ross, still exists in the MCU and looks like Liv Tyler — but because of his comic book counterpart, the famed Red Hulk. Fans wondered whether we'd see Ross transform into the furious red giant in Civil War, but of course this was not meant to be.
Similarly, Spider-Man's involvement lead fans to wonder if we would see the popular Iron Spider suit from the comics — in the comic Civil War arc, Tony Stark gifts Peter Parker a high-tech new spider-suit, partially modeled his own Iron Man gear.
Although this didn't make it into Captain America: Civil War, Tony did give Peter's suit "some upgrades", including camera eyes and the Spidey-signal in the post-credits sequence. Considering Peter hadn't even got a normal Spider-Man suit at the beginning of Civil War, it might have felt a little rushed to jump straight to the Iron Spider suit. But as the Russos revealed, both the Iron Spider and Red Hulk might have made it into the movie.
There But For The Grace Of The Russos
Speaking to comicbook.com, Joe Russo explained why Red Hulk didn't make the cut for Civil War.
"We had so many characters in that movie as it was. We consider everything, obviously, but with so many characters in that movie as it was to try and entertain adding another character and to get to the Red Hulk, you have to add a back story. You have to substantiate the narrative to get to that. [Thaddeus Ross], on our list of priorities, he was there sort of as the government's agenda and not to add another complicated super powered character to the mix."
Ross' story about how he became the Red Hulk is pretty complex, and to throw this into a film that was almost overcrowded would have been nonsensical.
However, that's not to say we'll never see Ross become the Red Hulk in the MCU — on the contrary, his appearance in Civil War seems to suggest that Ross will indeed become the red-eyed demon later along the line. After all, the Russos could have just used any old military general to put pressure on the Avengers. The fact that they used Ross speaks to his continued importance within this continuity, and Joe Russo explained how they consider every character's impact on future stories.
"We had a board when we started this process of the movies with these Avengers characters that have ever graced the screen in a Marvel film and a list of characters that we have at our disposal that haven't graced the screen. We spent the last six to eight months crafting stories around the cornucopia of characters at our disposal so anything is possible."
Of course, the problem is finding a story to fit Red Hulk into. With Infinity War now being confined to one film, it seems unlikely that this arc will have space to focus on Ross' journey.
Then there's the fact that Ross' transformation into the Red Hulk is very much part of Hulk's storyline, and Mark Ruffalo's version of the character has yet to get his own solo movie — though he will appear in Thor: Ragnarok.
More Spidey Upgrades
While Ross-as-Red-Hulk is just a vague possibility in the MCU, the outlook for the Iron Spider is much, much better. The ending of Civil War left Peter Parker in an interesting position, as despite not being sanctioned by the Sokovia Accords, Spidey swung into action to help out Iron Man as they tried to capture Team Cap.
In the wake of Civil War Tony's Avengers are pretty thin on the ground, and it might be that after Spider-Man: Homecoming Tony goes to Peter for help again — possibly when Thanos finally makes his move on Earth in Infinity War.
Basically, we're all expecting Spider-Man to officially become one of the Avengers pretty soon, and if he's going to be taking on bigger, badder foes, his suit will surely need another upgrade. When asked by comicbook.com on the Iron Spider's future in the MCU, Joe Russo didn't rule it out.
"Again, that falls in that category of anything's possible. We consider everything."
Of course, if we do see the Iron Spider in the MCU, it's unlikely the suit will have the same impact it did in the comics. In the original Civil War arc, the Iron Spider suit was representative of Peter's mindset, joining Tony's team to fight in favor of superhero registration. Although his reasons were justified, it was a dark turn for him, and his entire storyline in this arc was very complex.
Peter might still don the Iron Spider suit in later fights, and that would be super awesome to see, but it definitely wouldn't have the same effect as it could have done.
Although we didn't get to see these interesting elements of the Marvel comics in Civil War, it seems as though the Russos made the right choice in what made the cut — and it's good to know that when it comes to the future of the MCU, they've got a good roster of existing characters to draw from.
There's lots of scenes that didn't make the cut in Civil War too — check out this deleted scene with Cap and Black Widow...
...and tell us in the comments: Would you like to see Red Hulk and the Iron Spider suit in later MCU films?