Over the past few years, Marvel has come in for some criticism with regards to a lack of diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with the under-representation of its female characters when it comes to toys and merchandise.
Well, it turns out that 2013’s Iron Man 3 could have seen Tony Stark going up against a female villain, had the bosses at Marvel not decided to nix the idea due to concerns that it would harm toy sales.
“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,” director Shane Black tells Uproxx. “We had finished the script and we were given a no-holds-barred memo saying that cannot stand we’ve changed our minds because, after consulting, we’ve decided that toy won’t sell as well if it’s a female. So we had to change the entire script because of toy making.”
Black also revealed that the film’s female characters such as Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and Brandt (Stephanie Szostak) also had larger roles in the early drafts: “New York called and said, ‘That’s money out of our bank,’ In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian — and they didn’t want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian. 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.’”
The director stressed that the veto came from Marvel’s corporate bosses, as opposed to Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige: “If you ever say anything about decisions made at Marvel, I hope you’ll qualify it by saying that Kevin Feige is the guy who gets it right. And I don’t know if it was [Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter], I don’t know who it was. They never told me who made that decision, we just got that memo one day and it was about toy sales. That’s all I know.”
As it happens, next year should see a female villain taking centre stage, with Cate Blanchett thought to be portraying the main antagonist in Thor: Ragnarok.