Here's the thing with great stories—they basically all start out terribly. The best movies and books all took countless drafts and revisions and a metric shit-ton of bad concepts before something resembling quality came forward. Back to the Future was supposed to have a time-traveling refrigerator instead of a DeLorean. Harry Potter originally opened with the mangled bodies of Harry's parents being found by Hermione's dad for some reason. The first Star Wars draft was completely batshit insane.
And now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, we have yet another example of a classic story beginning its life as a very, uh, bad idea: According to Ed Solomon, co-writer of the stone-cold cinematic masterpiece that is Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the original film plot involved Bill and Ted kidnapping Adolph Hitler.
Last weekend, to celebrate the blessed day of Keanu Reeves's birth, Solomon tweeted a series of photos of his and co-writer Chris Matheson's handwritten notes from 1984, back when they were developing Bill & Ted. The movie they outline on paper is pretty drastically different from one that eventually hit theaters—Rufus is a "28-year-old sophomore" instead of a future man, they travel through time in a van instead of a phone booth, and, shockingly, the fateful Circle-K was originally a 7-11. Oh, and there's that whole Nazi Germany subplot, too.
In their time-traveling van, Bill and Ted "drive back into history," the notes read. "They end up, say, in Nazi Germany, and after causing trouble, bring Hitler back to San Dimas. He's stranded there and they go back in time again."
The notes might not give the kind of in-depth look at the creative process as those infamous Indiana Jones development transcripts do, but it's still a fascinating peek into how Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure came to be.
When another Twitter user brought up the Hitler arc to Solomon, he pointed out that a version of the idea actually made it into the final film—but with Napoleon, instead of Hitler, which was undoubtedly the better move, especially since it led to one of the movie's greatest puns.
Sadly, it seems as though the fate of the long-awaited third Bill and Ted movie, Bill & Ted Face the Music, is back up in the air. But while we all sit around waiting for Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted "Theodore" Logan to grace the silver screen again, read through the notes above and thank Rufus that the whole Nazi Germany plot never made it past the brainstorming phase. It's a bummer that the scene where Bill and Ted get stoned with a caveman never made the cut, but we wound up with Clarence Clemons in the future listening to that epic knockoff U2 song, so who's complaining?
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