Cutting Room: Great Deleted Scenes and Alternate Endings

R.W.V. Mitchell

Home video brought us many perks. Beyond the convenience of watching our favorite movies on demand, DVDs, Blu-rays, and digital downloads come packed with bonus features like deleted scenes and documentaries that let us see deeper into the process of creating memorable films. Here at Fandom, we’re scouring the deepest recesses of  the bonus features to bring you the best of what was originally left on the cutting room floor. Here, we’ll talk about scenes that are great but needed to go, scenes that could have made a good movie even better, and alternate endings that would have completely changed the way we look at familiar titles.

Cutting Room: Deleted Scenes and Alternate Endings

Thor – Loki Learns It’s Good To Be the King

Loki wasn’t exactly the best villain in the MCU but I still find him one of the most sympathetic characters around. Back in Thor, the overly proud god of thunder is thrown out of Asgard and the All-Father collapses under the stresses of his life. With Odin napping and Thor gone, the movie just glosses over the transfer of power as “Hey, guys. We need somebody on the throne and Loki called dibs.” Following the reappearance of Thor, Loki suddenly becomes a jealous villain intent of claiming the throne.

How it actually fell out was addressed in a deleted scene. With Odin asleep and Thor banished, Asgard does need somebody on the golden throne. But Loki doesn’t express any interest in laying a claim – having been relegated to second place his whole life. It’s only when Frigga – Odin’s wife if you forgot – tells him that he’s next in line that he finally gains some interest. After that, Loki seems less like the villain than he does before (if you ignore the Frost Giant assassination hire). Thor thought with his muscles and started an interplanetary war. It’s understandable that Loki would try to prevent that moron from returning. As for the entire ‘Death Star Jotunheim’ incident, I’d probably be fairly angry if my magical-king-ice-giant father just ignored my kidnapping and never tried finding me. That and the attempt to conquer the universe. [Graham Host]

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones – Meet the Amidalas

The romance plotline between Anakin and Padme in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones is the worst handled material in all of Star Wars. Yet the plotline did not need to entirely fail. One of the very best scenes was actually removed from the film. The scene is a two minute moment where upon landing on Naboo, Anakin and Padme go visit Padme’s parents. Weirdly, this is also one of the most complex scenes between the two characters, involving multiple people, tension, and subtle plot development. It is one of the only scenes where we see the events from Padme’s side. We get to see her personal life, and it also shows her increasing attraction to Anakin through Natalie Portman’s acting.

The set-up is simple enough. The characters enter the room to eat dinner. Anakin has a human-level of awkwardness upon entering the home. Despite Padme’s intentions, he immediately takes on the role of a nervous suitor. Padme’s older sister clearly senses something going on here even while Padme herself seems to miss it. There is, of course, the typical teasing of “you’re the first boyfriend she’s ever taken home”. Padme’s denials become contradictory and increasingly false. “He’s just a friend”, becomes “our relationship is strictly professional”. It’s only by her third denial that Natalie Portman’s face begins to change. ‘Maybe there is something there’, she seems to think.

This scene is not charming on the level of last year’s Brooklyn, but it is highly effective. If there was more of this level of human embarrassment and sexual tension in the actual movie, perhaps Episode II might not have been the hilarious disaster that we have mocked for a decade. (Jump to minute 9:00 in the video below) [Eric Fuchs]

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Trelawney’s Divine Comedy

The best scene from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix isn’t even in the final cut of the movie. During Dumbledore‘s expository speech before the welcome feast at Hogwarts, Emma Thompson, as Divination professor Sybill Trelawney, performs some of the finest physical comedy ever to be committed to film. While the other professors listen intently and politely, Trelawney is tucking into the feast with such vigor that she chokes a little and must get something to wash it down. When Dolores Umbridge interrupts the proceedings to give a speech of her own, Trelawney tries to appear interested while finishing the rest of her meal. Predictably, things go horribly awry and she winds up wearing more of her dinner than she eats. It sounds childish, even for a children’s film, but Emma Thompson is a magical sort of actor and makes it work brilliantly.

The scene is excellent for many reasons. It reestablishes Professor Trelawney, whom we’ve seen little of since Prisoner of Azkaban, as a bumbling oddball. Since it occurs during Umbridge’s “make Hogwarts great again” speech, it hints at the conflict that will arise between the two women. Quixotic Professor Trelawney is operating on a completely different wavelength than the puritanical Dolores Umbridge. The sheer silliness also downplays the momentous significance Trelawney will have on the course of events in the film. Ultimately, it is easy to understand why the scene, no matter how spectacular, had to be cut. It undermines the introduction of a villain who in my opinion is far more despicable than even the murderous, megalomaniacal Voldemort, and it is so good as a vignette that cutting it into parts would have been iconoclasm of the first degree.

Emma Thompson inhabits the absent-minded professor completely. Her performance in this scene conveys so much of the innocent magic that makes the series so appealing. I don’t know the incantation that could conjure the feelings you would get simply by watching this scene, so I implore you instead to play the video below and prepare for a belly laugh worthy of Hagrid. [R.W.V. Mitchell]

Clerks – Dante’s Infernal End

The thing about Kevin Smith‘s first film, Clerks, is that it is so easy to relate to. Almost everyone has had a job that made them want to quit every day, performing menial tasks with little reward while dealing with droves of the mouth-breathing human masses. The protagonist of the film, Dante, is called into work at a local mom and pop gas station on his day off with the assurance that he will be allowed to leave as soon as the boss can get there. As the day progresses and Dante’s day continues to get worse, he realizes that he is going to spend the entire day at the Quick Stop. He starts to think he might spend his entire life at the Quick Stop, though his girlfriend Veronica pushes him to go back to school.

The film features some pretty dark humor, including Dante’s ex accidentally having sex with a dead man in a bathroom, but nothing tops the original ending. Nixed because test audiences hated it, Clerks originally ended with Dante getting shot during a robbery, dying on the floor behind the register. It’s a harsh critique of dead-end jobs, and is comical only in the darkest way. The revised ending has Dante leaving the Quick Stop with his best friend Randall, the day ending on a high note after so much awfulness. In a way it’s similar to the two endings of the book A Clockwork Orange – in the original ending, the villain doesn’t learn anything from his experiences and continues to be evil. In the American version (and the film), the villain learns the error of his ways and tries to redeem himself. Both revisited endings are hopeful, which is easier for general audiences but doesn’t necessarily make for better films. [Danielle Ryan]

Marvel’s The Avengers – Taking Responsibility for Great Power

“The mistake that saved the world.” Agent Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D. used that oxymoron to describe the Avengers in the alternate ending of Joss Whedon‘s titular blockbuster, The Avengers. The 2012 film originally had a wraparound beginning and ending that featured Maria Hill debriefing the Battle of New York with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s oversight board, the World Security Council. Taken together, this pair of deleted scenes filtered the entire narrative of the film through a much darker lens.

Portrayed by actress Cobie Smulders, Maria Hill serves as both the right hand and candid critic of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury. In the film’s alternate opening, Agent Hill denounces Director Fury’s decision to enlist the extra-governmental Avengers. Her bleak words are overlaid with scenes of Captain America, Thor, and the Avengers standing amidst the carnage in New York. Joss Whedon stated that he intended for Hill’s gritty opening narration to create a “war movie” atmosphere for the film.

When I saw the alternate beginning and ending in the film’s extras, I was disappointed that they got cut. The ending revealed what Agent Hill called the “worst mistake” of the incident: the World Security Council’s decision to nuke New York after the Chitauri invaded. Since the Council is looking to demote Nick Fury, Hill essentially blackmails the Council, reminding them of the consequences of their (literal) nuclear option.

Although the wraparound scenes were cut, their underlying question — “Who will guard the guards themselves?” — influenced later installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier explored the blurred line between counter-terrorism and terrorism. Despite the fact that Agent Hill’s debriefing scenes were deleted, they still had an impact on Marvel’s cinematic future. [James Akinaka]

The Abyss – Going Deeper with the Director’s Cut

In some circles, James Cameron’s The Abyss is the director’s greatest cinematic achievement and one of the best dramatic thrillers. The film is a fantastic tale of a deep sea work crew that stumbles upon an unknown lifeform. Cameron put his incredibly talented cast of veteran actors through unbelievable circumstances to make The Abyss, and many of them refuse to talk about the experience to this day. One thing that is undeniable though is just how revolutionary and influential the film has become despite initially being considered a box-office flop.

When The Abyss was released, fans and moviegoers were amazed by the innovative special effects to include the now legendary sentient water tentacle. The supernatural underwater lifeforms had audiences in a state of awe, but until the Special Edition director’s cut was released no one really knew what happened at the end of the story. James Cameron’s extended cut showed us an ending that completely changed the narrative of the movie and made the whole presentation more cohesive.

After the battle that leaves the villain Coffey played by Michael Biehn dead, Bud dons the liquid-air suit to dive deep enough that it might kill him. Lindsey and the crew loose him after he succumbs to the depths, and in the original cut we only see a reflection of the underwater “angels” before he starts transmitting messages again. The deleted segment is a massive plot point that could have helped the film earn greater praise during its initial theatrical run instead of being misunderstood and discarded. The scene is critical in that it not only gives us more to understand about these creatures, but it also sends a positive message of global awareness and brings our characters more together. It just works. [Andrew Hawkins]

What deleted scenes do you love? Tweet us some of your favorites!

R.W.V. Mitchell
R.W.V. Mitchell is a Fan Contributor whose proudest accomplishment is winning the Star Wars trivia contest at the midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith.
Become a
Pop culture fans! Write what you love and have your work seen by millions.