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SYFY WIRE Avengers: Endgame

Endgame writers explain Smart Hulk's scrapped backstory and why Thor & Hawkeye had to live

By Jacob Oller
The Hulk

Even as Marvel moves on from Avengers: Endgame and into the MCU’s next Phase of being, some fans of the box-office-busting comic films have some unresolved questions about the highest-grossing movie of all time. Thankfully, Endgame scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have answers that not only drill down into the behind-the-scenes of Endgame, but look forward to the future of the Avengers, either in movies or on Disney+.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, the duo — who also wrote the three Captain America films (The First Avenger, The Winter Soldier, and Civil War) along with Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Infinity War — broke down what didn’t make the cut in Endgame and why, as well as shed some light into writing characters who would need to live on for future films and TV series.

Two of those who made it when others (like Tony Stark/Iron Man and Black Widow) did not were Thor and Hawkeye — heroes who now have upcoming projects announced with Thor: Love and Thunder and the Hawkeye Disney+ show. The former is the first in the Marvel universe to get a fourth superhero solo film. Why? The writers say Ragnarok saved the day.

“After Thor: The Dark World, no one is saying, ‘Thor is my favorite character,’” McFeely said. “But thanks to [Thor: Ragnarok director] Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth's willingness to be a goofball, I can't think of a better three-movie run, for an actor to steal the show, from Ragnarok to Infinity War and Endgame.”

(In fact, while speaking with SYFY WIRE recently, McFeely and Markus recounted how they coordinated closely with Waititi and Hemsworth — who were already shooting Ragnarok — on the idea of evolving the God of Thunder into "Lebowski Thor" for Endgame, which the two scribes were already writing. "For a guy like Hemsworth to play an overweight PTSD sufferer like that, that's gold for an actor," McFeely told us then. "That was interesting to him.")

That story arc is still ongoing, unlike those for Iron Man, Black Widow, or even Steve Rogers’ Captain America. Hawkeye and Thor aren’t without issues, but they deserved a different kind of ending, the writers say.

“It's not necessarily that we knew they'd get more stories,” Markus told Vanity Fair. “It's just that ... Thor has sacrificed and sacrificed and lost and lost. It's not a good ending to kill him.” As for Hawkeye, “Clint got his family back, and that's something. That's the whole reason he was doing it.”

As these two heroes prepare to either train their successors or wander aimlessly into the future, there are some other Avengers who had more stories to tell ... but that just didn’t make it into the final product. Heroes like Smart Hulk, who had an entirely different origin in the initial draft. “There was a sequence in [Infinity War] where they went into the places in the Doctor Strange universe called the Mindscape and everyone faces themselves,” Markus said.

“Only one of them was getting out of there, and then that one showed up in Wakanda [in Infinity War] and he had merged,” McFeely explained. “That merging that currently happens in [Endgame] in a diner, and he's eating a huge stack of pancakes? That initially happened at the end of Infinity War.” That meant lots of reshoots, scrapping everything that had an early version of Smart Hulk after the plotline was entirely abandoned because, in the writers’ own words, it “had absolutely nothing to do with anything.”

While we don’t know the future of Smart Hulk, Thor: Love and Thunder and Hawkeye both plan to arrive for MCU fans in 2021.