Iron Man 2 isn’t the most beloved MCU film, but thanks to some behind-the-scenes decisions, we avoided seeing hero Tony Stark ruin his credibility with the audience early in his tenure. According to an article from Bleeding Cool, Ike Perlmutter established a Creative Committee in the early days of the MCU whose members would influence the direction of the movies.
While this committee strategy later blew up in Perlmutter’s face, its members made one crucial decision on Iron Man 2 that would have negatively impacted the audience’s view of Tony Stark. According to the report, there was a planned scene where Tony Stark hit Pepper Potts.
The Scene That Would Have Left Iron Man 2 In Infamy
Reporter Ben Fritz detailed what happened during a series of episodes of The Wall Street Journal’s podcast, The Journal, which detailed the rise of Marvel Studios from comic book publisher to the Disney-owned film studio, along with the creator battles within during that time. Fritz stated, “During the production of Iron Man 2, members of the Creative Committee hated how Iron Man acted when he was drunk, including a moment when he pees in his suit. That scene stayed in the movie, but the Committee convinced Feige to trim some dialogue they thought made Iron Man seem cruel.”
Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston reports that the scene involved a drunk Tony Stork (portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in the films) striking Pepper Potts (portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow) in frustration. At the time, the Marvel Creative Committee argued that this would’ve been hard to bring Tony Stark back from, comparing a similar scene that occurred between Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne in the comics. Eventually, the scene was changed.
In case you haven’t seen Iron Man 2 in a while, there’s a scene in the film where Tony Stark becomes thoroughly inebriated at his birthday party and starts acting like a fool in front of the partygoers in his house, only for Pepper Potts to try and defuse the situation by taking a bottle of wine and the microphone out of his hand. While it takes an armored fight with best friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes to snap Tony out of his stupor, he never lays a hand on Pepper in the scene.
While Ike Perlmutter burned plenty of bridges during his time at Marvel Studios, and studio head Kevin Feige did not like answering to the creative committee, the decision to omit this moment from the movie was absolutely the right way to go. Tony Stark had appeared in all three MCU films at that point and was being positioned as the flagship character of the franchise. Having Stark hit Pepper could’ve possibly derailed the whole MCU.
To put it simply, you can’t have the face of your then-burgeoning franchise strike his love interest. A move like that would have followed the character around into future movies, especially in current times, and it would’ve had Tony Stark and Iron Man 2 seen in a very negative light.
As the above quote alludes to, there’s an infamous moment in The Avengers Issue #213 comic when then-current the former Hank Pym, who went under the superhero moniker Yellowjacket at the time, slaps his wife Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp. While the comics obviously continued and Hank Pym would go on to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it damaged the character’s reputation among comic readers.
This potentially could have been part of the reason why Scott Lang was chosen to be the primary Ant-Man of the MCU with Pym in the mentor role. However, it should be noted that the films never suggest this event happened in the MCU. Having a similar legacy befall Tony Stark’s iteration of Iron Man would have hurt not only the movie in the short run but also the film in the long term.
Of course, Spider-Man 3 also has a similar scene between a black symbiote suit-donning Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, but the film is vague about whether or not they got back together following its events. Also, it’s made clear that this is what pushes Peter to realize the suit is harming him, so that the film’s legacy isn’t tarnished by it.
Additionally, there was also a similar scene that took place during The Clone Saga of the Spider-Man comics where Peter strikes his wife Mary Jane which was also incredibly controversial and highly derided by fans and readers at the time. The incident took place in Spectacular Spider-Man Issue #226, and Mary Jane was also pregnant with her and Peter’s child at the time. Regardless of one’s feelings on Iron Man 2, I’m pretty sure most people would agree omitting the strike was the right call for the film and its lead character in the long run.
What do think of this news regarding Iron Man 2? How would Tony Stark’s legacy as a character in the MCU have been impacted if it was left in? What’s your favorite of the Phase 1 MCU movies? Let us know on our Social Media.