One thing that usually happens in filmmaking is sometimes an idea gets rejected from a movie and it later turns up in another one. It is something that is not used for a film but is later shown in a sequel. It can also be something on which the studio has already spent money so it can be repurposed for another movie. Or It can be the mysterious phenomenon of parallel thinking where an idea floats from one mind to another which is then snatched up and put to use. Well, I am talking a lot about movie plots here because there are a few of them which were scrapped but later turned up in other films. Here’s a list:
1. Back to the Future nuked the Refrigerator
The opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ended with Dr. Jones surviving an atom bomb blast by closing himself in a fridge. The crash could have easily killed him (it should have!). The idea of this was derived from Back to the Future, a film that Steven Spielberg was involved with for many years. The original screenplay showed the time machine as a device that shot a time ray and could be shot into specifically designed “time chambers”.
The idea was scrapped for the DeLorean saying that a time machine will be better if it can move around. There was also a scene where in order to get to back to 1985, Marty had to get into a fridge in the back of a truck that barreled into a nuclear bomb test site in the middle of the Nevada desert. It was similar to Indy doing the same about alien skulls. The explosion would offer power to the time ray for transporting Marty through time. Well, it may or may not have worked. But, what we ultimately saw was probably the best choice!
2. The Backstory of Cyclops – 16 years later
Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, had a very simple introduction in the X-Men franchise, without any backstory on how he developed his powers. Cyclops was going to get his backstory in the first X-Men movie. The film’s opening shot saw the origin of Magneto at Auschwitz’s concentration camp and then it shifted to a modern setting where we saw Scott Summers at the high school prom experiencing the first accidental burst of his optic blast in the boys’ restroom.
The scene was actually not shot, but, a set of the boys’ room was built and repurposed for the sequel when Mystique drugged Magneto’s prison guard. The scene is considered crucial in building the character of Cyclops. Information leaked from the production of the first and second film saw Scott getting to the shaft to make room for other characters coming to the forefront. When Bryan Singer returned as a director for X-Men: Apocalypse, the origin scene of Cyclops was given its time to shine.
3. The Organic Web-Shooters of Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s films
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was right on the about a lot of things related to the character. The film showed Peter Parker not relying on web shooters but instead shoot his own organic web from the wrists since he got bit by a genetically modified spider. Many people blamed screenwriter David Koepp for implementing organic web-shooting and it was originally a holdover from the screenplay written by James Cameron for Avatar, Terminator, Aliens, and Titanic. Cameron, along with some other writers, planned for Spider-Man to have organic web-slinging abilities.
Raimi said in an interview that according to him, it could have distanced the audience more from Peter Parker if he was shown as a science whiz who can design mechanical web-shooters and webbing by himself. The decision went back to the script of James Cameron and also that it will be too much for lumping to the original story that would have Peter Parker play around with designing the gadgets. The script of James Cameron was not actually the first. Even earlier, the pre-Cameron script had organic webs.
4. Tomb Raider 2 had a scene from Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom started with a scene in Shanghai. Gangster Lao Che and his men chased Indy, Short Round, and Willie Scott in the city of Shanghai till they escaped in an airplane that took them to the Himalayas. The original screenplay had the chase between Lao Che’s men and Indy going to the Great Wall of China on motorcycles. But the Chinese government did not allow them to film on the historical landmark. In 1983, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg did not have that much authority compared to what they have today.
The second Tomb Raider film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider had a scene where Angelina Jolie rides a motorcycle for some distance on the Great Wall and ramps off to meet Gerard Butler on the road alongside it. It is a double-nod: firstly going for the second Tomb Raider game which saw a race along the Great Wall in the first level and then a nod to the influence of Indiana Jones as a character. But the truth is that the scene was made on a green screen and this means that even Angelina Jolie had major clout to film on the real Great Wall.
5. The name of Starkiller Base came from…
George Lucas initially planned for Luke Skywalker to be named as Luke Starkiller. Mark Hamill mentioned this while production, saying that the character’s name was Starkiller. Members of the film’s production were vastly haunted by the name and someone may have told George Lucas what they were thinking – it could be a reference to Charles Manson, whose followers murdered rising star Sharon Tate and her friends seven years before the filming of Star Wars. Lucas had not thought of it that way but he saw the point and changed the name to Skywalker which is definitely a better fit for the character.
If we skip forward almost 40 years to The Force Awakens, we see a Death Star-like weapon getting its firepower by sucking the energy from the nearby stars and killing them – the Starkiller Base. It is an appropriate naming. But the question remains if it is a homage or some kind of attitude being shown by Disney to George Lucas. The decision is entirely upon the audience.
6. A Missing Link between Sabertooths
In the first X-Men, Sabertooth fell down from the Statue of Liberty and landed on a boat after a blast from Cyclops. Now the thing is he can definitely survive that. But he was never seen in other X-Men films or The Wolverine and Logan. In the original draft of X2: X-Men United, it was planned that Sabertooth would rematch against Wolverine, which we may not have expected. For that, Colonel Stryker would have had Sabertooth as his personal assistant or bodyguard instead of Deathstrike.
Also, we might have seen Stryker cloning Sabertooth many times. The one we saw in X1 was primal and one of the clones that Magneto was kind of renting from Stryker. The Sabertooth that would have appeared in X2 would be the real Sabertooth, who would have been more experienced and refined. The idea was rejected to dig up another villain from the rogue’s gallery of Wolverine and then there was Deathstrike, who was a standout in that film. The idea of a matured Sabertooth was then used in the first installment of The Wolverine trilogy.
7. The plan to make Robin appear first before Batman Forever
While watching Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, people asked about the whereabouts of Robin. Dick Grayson’s character was not planned to show up till the sequel so that Batman could be given a proper introduction. In the original drafts of Batman Returns, Grayson’s character was written as a leader of a street gang who earned the respect of Batman and was then taken under his wing. The idea was rejected and his character was changed to a young garage mechanic helping Batman repair the Batmobile. It was written as a small role for just one or two scenes in order to introduce the character and he would have taken the role of Robin in the next film.
Marlon Wayans was also cast for a role and also signed for a sequel. When he appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2018, he revealed that the decision was taken because the film already had too many characters. Marlon was paid a good amount of money despite the role getting scrapped and when the franchise changed course with Joel Schumaker taking over as director, the character was brought back. But this time it was played by Chris O’Donnell.
8. The original idea of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
When Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a huge success at the box office, Columbia Pictures asked Steven Spielberg to make a sequel. The script by Steven Spielberg was a dark follow-up to the first one. It also had blended bits of humor. When Spielberg went through the draft, the best thing he liked was the friendly alien and the little boy. Melissa Mathison, who was Harrison Ford’s girlfriend at that time, took the script and changed it a little. The family-friendly portions were taken and made as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
The original script had a group of short little aliens coming to Earth and terrorizing the planet by being annoying little, murderous, miscreants. One of them became friendly with a young boy and helped them fight against the evil ones. Well, this is Gremlins. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer of the film. The scene where an old lady is taken out by the Gremlins is similar to a scene from Spielberg’s script and the main antagonist, Spike, had the reworking of a bad alien named Scar.