'Captain America: The First Avenger' Originally Ended With Cap Fighting A Giant Nazi Robot

Ten years ago, Captain America made his MCU debut with his pinstripe torso and a star on his chest. The world's first superhero, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) had heart long before he got the physical ability to fight for justice, which made him the perfect person to lead the Avengers. But way before universe-shattering calamities like Thanos' infinity gauntlet or even aliens attacking Earth, Cap was dealing with manageable, small-time evil — ya know, like Nazis.

Captain America: The First Avenger gave us Steve's origin story (arguably the best of the bunch) and saw him facing off against HYDRA, the Nazis' deep science division headed by Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Along with its exciting villain, The First Avenger had everything you need for a solid superhero movie: Romance! Action! Nazi punching! A morally upstanding hero! And a giant Nazi robot!

Wait, no, that last one was definitely not there before...

Captain America vs Hydra’s Warbot

This might sound ridiculous, but it turns out the original script for The First Avenger featured a Red Skull-controlled robot that Steve spent the last act facing off against. It wouldn't be Marvel without a giant chaotic set-piece at the end, and why have aircraft action where you could have a robot?

Well, it turned out that there wasn't enough room in the budget or time to shoot the scene, which is probably for the best. While reflecting on their work on the film, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely mentioned the "huge Hydra robot" as the biggest change they made to the script. Markus said:

"A large chunk of the third act was Cap fighting this robot. It was a Nazi super robot under the control of the villainous Red Skull called Panzer Max."

He explained that constraints led to the robot being scrapped completely, adding:

"I think eventually it was a budget and time thing. Where it was like, 'We really can't be spending that much time.'"

This information leaves us with more than a few burning questions, so let's get to them.

What Is Panzer Max?

Hydra's Panzer Max doesn't have a very extensive history in the Marvel comics. It appeared in a single 2009 issue as a prototype warbot created by Baron Strucker. A member of HYDRA leadership, Strucker attempts to kill the Howling Commandos, but they end up destroying his toy and going home.

Development for The First Avenger begun in 2008 and was completed with its 2011 release, so Panzer Max's appearance in the 2009 comic makes sense. The recent issue likely caught the writers' eye and gave the perfect excuse for an action-packed conclusion to the film.

Any Chance We’ll See Panzer Max in the MCU?

Of course not! A giant Nazi robot would be wild and haven't we already defeated all the evil German scientists, anyway?

Who are we kidding? While it may be very unlikely, I hesitate to say "never". Given the MCU's recent weirdness, Panzer Max could easily be hiding in a background shot of Loki or wreaking havoc on a nearby multiverse.

In fact, the 2009 comic with Panzer Max's appearance ends with the Howling Commandoes watching a movie about Captain America. So if things start getting even weirder in the MCU, maybe the Commandos will get their own spinoff show, face off against a Nazi warbot and sit back to watch Captain America: The First Avenger. I don't know if we're lucky enough for things to get that meta, but let's cross our fingers and hope really hard.

Captain America 10 Years Later

Reflecting on the now 10-year old movie, Markus and McFeely had more to share about their time working on the First Avenger. They even discussed the casting of Chris Evans and the value he brought to the role (other than his face, of course).

Evans managed to capture the singular gravitas of Steve Rogers and was very intentional about his portrayal. He wanted Steve's values to be maintained throughout the film and even worked with the writers to help reshape the character. Markus said:

"He was very conscious of not wanting snark. It was a very good understanding of Captain America, which is that if this guy's going to fly as a character and as an authority figure, eventually, he's got to have the gravity right away, no matter what the situation. Which is what we all came to realize, that Steve Rogers was born Captain America, he just didn't have the body for it. And Evans got that. I think he may have taken a joke or two out is what I remember.

Anyone else missing Evans' Steve Rogers? This was meant to be a fun reflection on the beloved character but now I'm getting misty-eyed.

On the bright side, we'll always have Cap's trilogy to revisit, and what better time than the 20th anniversary of his big-screen debut?