There was nearly an hour of footage cut from Avengers: Age of Ultron, just to whittle it down to a measly two hours and twenty minutes. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Thor’s little sidequest felt a bit rushed, there was a ton of stuff from that scene that didn’t make it into the final version of the film.
According to director Joss Whedon on the Empire Film Podcast, at one point there was a cut of the film sitting at a monstrous 195 minutes (for the record, I would have loved to see a three-hour Avengers movie). That particular version had a ton more material following Thor after his Scarlet Witch nightmare.
In the theatrical cut, Thor finds Erik Selvig, goes to the Water of Sight, has some brief glimpses of a vision that might be related to Ragnarok, then drops back in with the Avengers to unload a ton of exposition. In Whedon’s original version, it plays out quite a bit differently.
What was cut from the Water of Sight sequence?
According to Whedon, Thor wasn’t just seeking out the Water of Sight, he was specifically looking to speak with a Norn. If you’re not familiar with that term, the Norns are sort of like the Norse mythology version of the Fates; mystical female beings who control the destiny of both gods and mortals.
So if you’re a Norse god and you’re looking for answers, the Norns would be a good place to start.
In that 195 minute cut, Thor would find a Norn, and be instructed to enter the pool. The Norn would then possess Thor, and would answer Erik Selvig’s questions.
That’s a very different angle than the sort-of-explained-but-not-really powers of the Water of Sight. It also seems very likely that this mysterious woman from the trailers (who Kevin Feige wrote off as “marketing material,” in an answer that makes sense to no one) is one of the Norns.
Why was it cut?
Whedon says that Chris Hemsworth really “threw himself into it, and he did a beautiful job,” so the performance wasn’t an issue. Instead, it seems test audiences really didn’t like the scene. Whedon blames this on the fact that it was a rough cut with no visual effects, and also that it’s something he could maybe get away with in a Thor movie, but doesn’t mesh as well with the tone of Age of Ultron.
Joss Whedon also admits that there was quite a battle with Marvel execs to even have any of the cave sequence at all. Apparently, the Scarlet Witch dreams were not very popular with the studio heads, and it was something of a miracle we even got to see what we did:
“The dreams were not an executive favorite. The dreams, the farmhouse, these were things I fought [for]. With the cave, they pointed a gun at the farm’s head and ‘Give us the cave’. They got the farm. In a civilized way – I respect these guys, but that’s when it got really unpleasant. There was a point when there was going to be no cave, and Thor was going to leave and come back and say, ‘I figured some stuff out.’ And at that point I was so beaten down, I was like, ‘Sure, okay… what movie is this?’ The editors were like, ‘No no, you have to show the thing, you just can’t say it.’ I was like, ‘Okay, thank you, we can figure this out!’ You can tell it was beaten down, but it was hard won.”
Will we ever see the original three-hour version?
If you’re still feeling sore over all of the footage that was cut, you’ll be glad to know that an extended edition with an alternate ending is very much rumored. It’s not confirmed, so don’t get your hopes too high up, but there’s a good chance we’ll be able to see Joss Whedon’s original vision for the film at some point in the future.