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As we are fond of pointing out, it's easy to think of pop culture icons as having just walked onto the scene fully formed. But even the most timeless stories and characters went through creative tinkering right up until the last minute. You know, the way Batman was almost a blond geek in red spandex.

Some of the early versions of these characters weren't just different, but were utterly freaking insane. For instance ...

Indiana Jones: Pedophile

You Know Him As:

The adventurous, treasure-hunting, Nazi-murdering, Karen Allen-boning archetypal badass, responsible for thousands of disillusioned archaeology freshmen who didn't realize that "Bullwhip Acrobatics" is not included in most university curriculums.

"Also, should we bring our own Nazi to kill, or will the school provide one?"

But You Almost Knew Him As:

A creepy pedophile.

Talk about raping your childhood.

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, we find out that prior to the events of the movie, Indy and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) had an affair that ended when he was 27 and she was about 17. But their relationship took place in the 1920s, when (adjusting for inflation) 17 was like a solid 25 in modern breasts, so it's at least pretty much kosher according to the conventions of the time.

But no possible justification could make Indy anything other than a "sick child molester" if he had boned Marion when she was, say, just 11 years-old. Which is exactly what Lucas and Spielberg originally planned for him.

His winks are signals for help.

During a 70s brainstorming session for Raiders, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas seriously considered the idea that Indiana Jones' backstory should totally include the time he had sex with a girl who still had most of her baby teeth. Lucas commented that it would be "amusing," to which Spielberg immediately added that it would be even funnier if Marion was this 12 year-old slut who came on to Indy and seduced him!

Of course, the first movie wouldn't actually show Indiana Jones molesting a tween, but the terrifying implication would have still been there.

Other ages were also suggested, but Lucas made it clear that they shouldn't go higher than 16 with the sex, because then "it's not interesting anymore."

"Harrison, you got a minute? I have something interesting to show you."

Edward Cullen: Vampire Commando

You Know Him As:

The delicate, sparkling, "vegetarian" "vampire" -- played by Robert Pattinson in the Twilight movies -- who in spite of being over a hundred years old spends most of his time hanging around high school kids.

Perhaps we owe George Lucas an apology.

But You Almost Knew Him As:

Blade, basically.

It's hard to believe, but when Stephenie Meyer's novels about teens making out with walking corpses were first being optioned for a movie, the studios weren't treating it like a box office gold mine. That's probably why when Paramount finally did acquire the Twilight movie rights, it decided to just ignore the books and turn the whole thing into a huge action flick aimed mostly at guys.

Accordingly, its version of Edward had less of him breaking into girls' rooms to creepily watch them sleep and more of him taking down vampire-hunting SWAT teams from the treetops.

We're totally seeing a lunch box tie-in here.

Other major changes to the books included turning the bland Bella into a vampire action-heroine (that is, she'd get to play a character who wasn't completely useless). But perhaps most interestingly of all, this other Twilight would introduce an original nemesis for Edward -- a Korean FBI agent who tracks and hunts vampires across the country. And of course he knows karate -- we shouldn't even need to type that part.

To summarize, Edward Cullen could have been a genuinely threatening vampire murdering swarms of human commandos and getting into martial arts fights. Instead, the only thing he ended up killing was the dignity of vampires everywhere.

Even the Count from Sesame Street lost street cred.

Paramount eventually sold off the Twilight rights in 2007 after production was held up for too long. We like to imagine that it was due to problems with acquiring that much fake blood and military-grade explosives. After that, the new studio made the questionable business decision to stay faithful to the books -- a decision so questionable that the films have pulled in close to $2 billion in worldwide box office so far (to say nothing of merchandise and DVDs) and have become a bona fide cultural phenomenon the likes of which the planet has seldom seen.

I could be fighting a Korean FBI agent right now instead of bathing in my millions.

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Woody From Toy Story: A Murderous Giant

You Know Him As:

A courageous leader and loyal friend to the other toys in Pixar's Toy Story, but also a fairly complex character capable of petty acts of jealousy, especially when his status as favorite toy is being threatened by the new arrival, Buzz Lightyear.

But You Almost Knew Him As:

An abusive jerk and would-be murderer. Oh, and his face was pure fucking nightmare fuel:


The conflict between Woody and Buzz has been the central point of Toy Story from the get-go, but the original characters were quite different. The first draft of Buzz, for one, was a naive, easygoing toy who just wanted to impress his new owner, Andy. Woody, on the other hand was this smooth-talking, huge ventriloquist dummy and kind of a dick who cheerfully tricks the gullible Buzz into getting stuck behind a drawer so that Andy can't find him.

In other words, he was a lot more like Tim Allen.

That's not the "would-be murderer" part. As production continued, then-head of Disney Studios Jeffrey Katzenberg got involved in the project. He wanted to make it more "edgy," demanding that Pixar steer away from family entertainment and go for a darker, more "adult" approach.

By the time Pixar was done, Woody had become a cynical regular-size doll who terrorized and abused the other toys. Here he is with Slinky Dog:

And, oh yeah, he fucking judo-threw Buzz out the window in a fit of murderous rage.

"He's MY owner, bitch!"

In this version, when the other toys confront Woody over WHAT THE HELL, MAN?!, he basically tells them to fuck off and tries to sic his Slinky dog on them (it's implied he has mistreated him for years). Finally the toys realize there are more of them, so they gang up on Woody and hurl him out the window.

"But I let you clean my shoes!"

Thankfully, when other Disney executives were shown the above storyboards, they utterly hated them and Pixar was given creative control over the movie. That gave us the current version, where all of Woody's vicious murders happen offscreen.

Mr. Magoo: Commie Hunter

You Know Him As:

Created in 1949, the cartoon character Mr. Magoo is a stubborn but kindly older man who constantly gets into trouble because of his poor eyesight. Kind of a one-joke premise, we suppose, but he has remained famous enough to have been portrayed by Leslie Nielsen in the 1997 Mr. Magoo live-action movie that, despite protests from the National Federation of the Blind, made almost three times its budget.

Oh, Magoo, you've done it again! And by "it," we mean "insulted handicapped people for cash!"

But You Almost Knew Him As:

A paranoid political nutjob.

The whole thing was supposed to be a political statement about paranoid red hunters like Joseph McCarthy. The creators wanted Mr. Magoo to be a bitter, mean-spirited asshole, constantly spouting off as many misanthropic political rants as they could get away with. Even his nearsightedness was part of the joke, a metaphor for fanatics who saw only what they wanted to see, without regarding the facts.

Serious business.

To understand the weird-ass early version of the character, you have to know the dark story behind his creation. Mr. Magoo was created by Millard Kaufman and John Hubley near the end of the 1940s, right when the Red Scare was gaining momentum ... and the House Un-American Activities Committee had blacklisted both men. Hubley actually was an ex-communist who participated in labor strikes.

Their McCarthy-like Magoo was a protest of the paranoid politics of the era that turned neighbors and friends against one another. We assume that's also why his head looks like a giant scrotum.

Cutting political commentary.

Eventually, though, Kaufman and Hubley decided their involvement in the project would most likely get it shut down, so they backed away. The production was then handed over completely to Pete Burness, who got rid of all the political stuff and concentrated on making fun of Magoo's failing eyesight and senility, which of course means instant hilarity. The cartoon then won two Academy Awards, in 1955 and 1956.

It ... was a different time.

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The Alien: Quite the Talker

You Know It As:

The unstoppable extraterrestrial killing machine from Ridley Scott's Alien franchise and one of the most iconic movie monsters of the modern age. Also, a space rapist.

"You have purty eyes."

But You Almost Knew It As:

The unstoppable extraterrestrial killing machine from Ridley Scott's Alien and one of the most iconic movie monsters of the modern age ... that can freaking talk.

Once again, Mel Brooks was right on the money.

This rumor has persisted on the Internet for some time now and goes back to an alleged Ridley Scott quote where the director discusses his early idea for the first movie's ending. In the version you know, the story ends with the alien creature dead and Ripley putting herself in stasis (and in tiny panties). The original plan, however, was for the alien to bite off Ripley's head, sit in her chair, and record a final entry in the ship's log, imitating Ripley's voice. Then, we assume, lie back as scary music plays and the camera slowly pans to the alien's growing smile right before the end credits roll.

Co-directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Some of you may think that would be just an awesome ending, and some of you probably feel like that would be the most unintentionally hilarious climax outside of Darth Vader's "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" at the end of Revenge of the Sith. All we can say is that it's kind of hard to imagine what the subsequent films would have looked like with talking xenomorphs. (If you're not sure what we mean, picture the first huge action scene in Alien, only instead of the aliens creeping silently out of the walls, imagine them talking shit the whole time. With, let's say, thick Wisconsin accents.)

The producers purportedly rejected the ending, not so much because of the talking alien but because they wanted Ripley to survive and take out the alien for the happy ending (and leaving the door open for sequels).

It's too bad Ridley Scott has dropped plans for an Alien prequel/reboot (it will be an original sci-fi film instead). Maybe he was intending to go back to his original vision.

"Ow! That burns! You bitch!"

Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a freelance online journalist and Japanese-English-Polish translator. Contact him at c.j.strusiewicz@gmail.com.

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