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.

28 Comments

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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Avatar image for johno357
johno357

bad film full of plotholes. i loved the second one for some reason

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mtm2490

they cancelled new thundercats becuase toys didn't sell :(

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wexorian

First of all iron man 3 sucked because they F ED up with mandarin sooo hard, as for female villain there are many female villains in mcu and few more will appear in thor ragnarok ....

Avatar image for brownyyy
brownyyy

@wexorian: Agreed Shane Blacks iron man 3 was really good up until that point for me at least. Why use Ben Kingsley to bring a truly great character to life then make him a joke.

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Mogan

@brownyyy: The Ben Kingsley twist scene was the best part of that whole movie.

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brownyyy

@Mogan: Really I disagree I felt the terrorist angle worked really well for him and it was setup from ironman. Can I ask why you liked the twist?

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Mogan

@brownyyy: It was hilarious. That whole movie had a way lighter tone than the previous Iron Man movies, and I'm glad they embraced that, rather than try to make another, purely earnest, straight faced Marvel movie, because we've already got a ton of those.

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YummyMango

@Mogan: I agree and I liked that twist. It was funny and unexpected.

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brownyyy

@Mogan: Fair enough I saw it the other way I thought the movie had the right amount of light heartedness but in my opinion The Mandarin should have been the character we saw in the trailers but each to their own just my thoughts.

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LouiXIII

Iron Man 3 was my least favorite of the series. The Mandarin was NOT the Mandarin lol

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ClunkerSlim

Actually the male-Killian worked out better since he ended up having a romantic rivalry with Killian over Pepper. Unless Piper was going to start swinging both ways then that entire subplot would have been lost. Female-Killian would have ended up just being a pissed off ex that Tony slept with and pushed aside. Thus painting Pepper as the clueless current girlfriend defending her womanizing boyfriend against his former one night stand. Awful. Iron Man 3's fault in the villain was the butchering of the Mandarin character, not the portrayal of Killian. The fact that Shane Black can't see that is probably why IM3 ranks at the bottom of the MCU movies.

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Saxondale

The embargo against Gibson demonstrates what utter hypocrites run Hollywood. Let's make another dozen films about the injustice of 1950's blacklisting and ignore the blacklisting we're doing today. That's consistent.

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Bread_or_Decide

Gibson is one hell of a director. Hollywood needs to forgive and forget. If they can do it with Polanski they can do it with anyone.

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JackSpazzow

@Bread_or_Decide: Iron Man 4: The Passion of the Stark

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Camou504

Toy wont sell that well? Im not a marketer but im pretty sure if you make the character memorable enough im sure that they will sell

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@camou504: that is pathetic marketing i think , like tracer from overwatch is not popular enough , and since when selling figures is more important than the main god damn movie it self just pathetic

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Camou504

@al2ian: sad but thats the world we're living in nowadays. The people with a passion barely can get a headline while the rich guys with no passion control the show

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Razrabbit

Thats pretty messed up. Not that a female antagonist would've made that pile of crap movie any better.

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Mogan

Has there been a female title character or main villain in any of the Marvel movies so far?

Moderator
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Razrabbit

@Mogan: Despite all the money they make, Marvel can never get either of those things right in their movies. The villains always suck, and female characters are always boring.

Meanwhile, DC has Wonderwoman kicking more ass than Superman

Avatar image for stage4saiyan
stage4saiyan

@razrabbit: GTFO. Zemo is a better villain than Zod, Doomsday, or """""""""""""Lex Luthor""""""""""""""

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thecman25

@stage4saiyan: ok now we know your delusional af. Zemo was a shitty villain

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DarthRevenX

@razrabbit: DC's film side is a joke at this point, don't try and defend BVS and slam DCU.....BVS was as bad as Iron Man 3......Civil War is typical Marvel making great films....

and really i'd say BVS was worse than Iron man 3......at least IM3 showed Tony as a hero still......what do you call saving a dozen people falling out of a plane??? that's heroism.....what did Batman & Supes do?? act out of character and fight in a pointless fight and get mired in a crap story.....

I guarantee you Batman's rep has been knocked a peg or two now and Superman's is even lower than ever cus DC puts zero effort in and is reactionary to Marvel......eww we gotta gain ground, you had a great start with Nolan's trilogy and ruined it with Sntder's Man Of Steel let alone BVS.......now everything is in jeopardy and directors are even leaving their movies cus most likely the rules came down that it needs to be dark and gritty and they know it'll ruin the characters......

I want Marvel and DC to succeed but DC films look inept at this point.....

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MILK

If they do Iron Man 4, they should recast Tony Stark as a female.

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wexorian

@milk: Tina stark

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Mogan

@milk: Tanya Stark?

Moderator
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JackSpazzow

@Mogan: Toni Stark