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Marvel Said No to Female Villain for Iron Man 3, Director Says

"We've decided that toy won't sell as well if it's a female," Shane Black says he was told by Marvel executives.


A draft of 2013's Iron Man 3 featured a female villain, but Marvel nixed the idea because action figures based on the character would sell better if it was a man. This is according to director Shane Black, who spoke with Uproxx about the situation.

"All I'll say is this, on the record: There was an early draft of Iron Man 3 where we had an inkling of a problem. Which is that we had a female character who was the villain in the draft," he said. "We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand and we've changed our minds because, after consulting, we've decided that toy won't sell as well if it's a female."

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As a result, Black and his team "had to change the entire script," he said, mentioning that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was not the one to shoot down the idea for a female villain.

Instead, "That's Marvel corporate," he said about who made the call. "But now you don't have that problem anymore."

That is likely a reference to the 2015 Marvel reorganization. As part of this, it became possible for Feige to report directly to Disney Studios boss Alan Horn instead of the "infamously micromanaging Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac 'Ike' Perlmutter," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

After scrapping the script, Black and company put forth the idea for the male character Killian, who went on to become the main antagonist of Iron Man 3.

"In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian--and they didn't want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian," he said. "I liked the idea, like Remington Steele, you think it's the man but at the end, the woman has been running the whole show. They just said, 'No way.'"

Black went on to say that he's not sure who exactly vetoed the idea for a female antagonist. "They never told me who made the decision, we just got that memo one day and it was about toy sales. That's all I know," he said.

Uproxx also asked Black if he would be interested in making another Iron Man movie. Black said Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr.--who recently said he would be open to the idea of making a fourth film--would like to see Mel Gibson direct a new entry in the series.

"Mel was great to [Downey Jr.]," Black said. "Mel's been really nice to a lot of people, including me."

"I'll go on record saying I don't believe anyone should be held accountable in any way for something they say while they are drunk," he added, referencing Gibson's controversial anti-Semetic comments in 2006. "It's not who they are."

Gibson and Downey Jr. appeared together in the movies Air America and The Singing Detective. As for Black, he produced Lethal Weapon, which starred Gibson.

Black's latest movie is The Nice Guys, which opens in the US this coming Friday, May 20. He's also directing 2018's The Predator.

Iron Man 3 made $1.2 billion globally at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. In related news, Iron Man director Jon Favreau recently told Comic Book Movie that he can't imagine the Iron Man series moving forward with anyone other than Downey Jr. in the lead role.

The Iron Man character was most recently seen played by Downey Jr. in this month's Captain America: Civil War.

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