20. Back to the Future (1985) – Marty's dated worries
The scene: Sometimes filmmakers wisely choose to remove things that should never have been written into the script in the first place. Back to the Future, which has occupied a warm space in moviegoers’ hearts since 1985, had several scenes snipped for expediency that wound up removing another offensive aside.
As Doc Brown and Marty prepare for their “weather experiment,” they’re interrupted by a passing cop, who asks if they have a permit for what they’re doing. In the original version, Doc hands over a $50 note to bribe the police officer, after which a pale-faced Marty expresses anxiety to Doc about having to woo his own mother: “This is the type of thing that could screw me up permanently – what if I go back to the future and I end up being… gay?” Facepalm. Yeah, that comment has not aged well at all.
19. Thor (2011) – Erik casually mentions SWORD
The scene: A common thread throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the existence of S.H.I.E.L.D. First introduced during the Iron Man end credits, when we meet Nick Fury, the global organisation – which focuses on aiding Earth-related incidents – serves as a lynchpin for the entire MCU. Who knew there was another similar group, waiting in the wings?
The original ending to Kenneth Branagh’s Thor included a reference to S.W.O.R.D. – the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. While Erik Selvig attempts to locate the Goldilocks of Asgard using a wormhole, he mentions to Jane and Darcy that they should share their data with both S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. Acknowledging that there’s a much, much bigger world out there makes sense as the MCU continues to spiral out into the universe. The Spider-Man: Far From Home post-credits scene features Fury and Maria Hill discussing the formation of a new organisation with the Skrulls – could that be S.W.O.R.D.?
18. The Iron Giant (1999) – Robot army
The scene: This animated cult classic follows a robot that crash lands onto Earth and befriends a young boy in rural America. Brad Bird’s story purposefully avoids any mention of the robot’s true nature. Is it good-hearted, or does it deserve a prodding by government agents? Bird storyboarded a scene that delves into the Iron Giant’s past then abandoned it due to financial restraints.
The 2015 remastered version fleshed out this half-cooked scene that appears after the "souls don’t die" moment, and finds the Giant dreaming about his history. It’s here that we learn the Iron Giant is from a race of robots hell-bent on destroying other planets.
17. X-Men: First Class (2011) – Dragneto
The scene: X-Men: First Class delves into the history of the costumed mutants, shedding light on how the team came to be. At the core of its formation is the friendship between Professor X and Magneto. Years before their rivalry, the two mutants were the best of pals, as evidenced by this scene found on the Blu-ray extras.
During a recruitment drive for Professor X’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Xavier puts a glamour on one prospective student, making them see Erik in full-on drag. Michael Fassbender’s performance makes the scene one of the funniest in the franchise. However, had it been included, it might have been a tad difficult to fear Magneto after he’s been made the object of ridicule.
16. The Abyss (1986) – The alien watchers
The scene: James Cameron’s director’s cut of The Abyss includes an additional 28 minutes of footage! While plenty of that runtime fleshes out character moments, the big whammy comes at the end. As Bud (Ed Harris) converses with the aliens, he’s shown a giant screen broadcasting a news report on the expanding Russian military presence, followed swiftly by a seismologist’s live report on a huge wave threatening to wipe out a California beach. This cuts to shots of thousand foot-high waves teetering above coasts across the world, threatening humanity’s extinction.
It’s revealed that the aliens control the water and live in fear of humans starting a nuclear war. “Where do you get off passing judgment on us? How do know they'll actually do it?" Bud cries, causing the waves to retreat. It adds a whole twist of new information: the aliens are likely what caused the initial problem to begin with.
15. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) – Bill’s showdown
The scene: It’s surprising that Quentin Tarantino excised this pertinent scene in Kill Bill Vol. 2, namely because of his propensity for extended fight sequences and revelatory character moments. In this deleted flashback, the true nature of ruthless villain Bill (Keith Carradine) is unmasked, as he and Beatrix encounter Michael Jai White, an apprentice whose master was killed by Bill years previously.
White sets his gang on Bill, who dispenses with the crew of thugs. Switching between swordplay and hand-to-hand combat, he wipes ‘em out like it's no bother and eventually slashes White’s throat, leaving him to die. The entire fight unfolds while Beatrix watches. This hammers home what she truly faces later on when she must confront Bill: the strong likelihood that she won’t emerge the victor in their battle.
14. The Shining (1980) – Ullman was evil
The scene: This deleted scene seemingly proves a widely discussed theory that Jack’s boss, Stuart Ullman, is a part of the hotel’s ancient evil. The scene was included in the original theatrical release – for one week, that is, until Kubrick asked projectionists to remove it.
After Wendy and Danny’s lucky escape from the hotel, they’re visited at the hospital by The Overlook’s manager who checks in on them. As he leaves, he tosses Danny the tennis ball his father bounced against the walls of the sinister hotel. How on earth did Ullman get it in his possession? Possibly the reason Kubrick snipped the scene was to eliminate the idea that Ullman was too part of the evil. Alas, the scene didn’t survive – that we know of – so we can’t see how it played out.
13. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) – Saruman’s death
The scene: Look, there are a lot of characters in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. There are even more in Tolkien’s original tomes. That being the case, Jackson took liberties with the source material, including the death of one of the franchise’s biggest bads. Saruman stirred up plenty of disharmony in the first two films, which is why it’s so unusual that Jackson removed his death scene.
Following his capture at Helm’s Deep, Saruman is incarcerated in the Tower of Orthanc where he’s faced by Gandalf, Aragorn, and the forces of Rohan. Gandalf attempts to turn Saruman into an informant, but the plan goes awry, leading to Saruman falling from the Tower to a rather gruesome death. In the theatrical cut, his death is mentioned in a bit of throwaway dialogue. While time restraints are a real issue with a saga of this magnitude, relegating the demise of a key villain down to one line is a real zinger. That’s why actor Christopher Lee refused to attend the movie’s premiere.
12. T2: Judgment Day (1991) – Sarah resets T800’s chip
The scene: Another James Cameron movie that boasts a superior extended edition. The Terminator sequel shows the continued threat of Skynet and features a reprogrammed T-800 being sent back to help John Connor. One key moment in the movie arrives at the midway point – during a major lull in the action – when John, Sarah, and the T-800 hide in an abandoned gas station. While they repair the machine, John takes the time to ask the Terminator how his mechanical mind operates: the T-800 replies that he has a neural-net processor – he’s able to learn.
However, in the deleted scene which continues after that very moment, it’s revealed that Skynet sets every Terminator to read-only, so they cannot learn unless their hardware is manually reset. John and Sarah power down the machine and begin the task, but Sarah attempts to smash the chip, expressing her distrust over “it”. John argues to not destroy it, displaying his first signs of authority. It’s the one scene that Cameron has said he misses, as it bears significant weight on John’s future as the leader of the resistance.
11. Superman II (1980) – Superman's not a murderer!
The scene: The theatrical cut and the subsequent Richard Donner cut of Superman II feature the same outcome for General Zod and his acolytes, Ursa and Non. Lured to the Fortress of Solitude by the Man of Steel, the trio’s powers are revoked before Supes and Lois Lane… uhhh, kick them down an icy crevasse to die? Sure, the behind-the-scenes troubles which befell Superman II are extensive, stemming from original director Richard Donner being replaced by Jack Lester midway through the shoot. But that doesn’t account for this wild diversion from Superman’s sturdier-than-vibranium ethics.
This deleted scene averts the Kryptonian deaths and instead sees the Arctic police (?) arrive to cart them off to jail. While it’s a great outcome, in that Superman is no longer a killer, it’s still a little odd that the trio are never heard from again...