Marvel Removed Female Villain from ‘Iron Man 3’ over Toy Sales

In a recent interview with Uproxx, The Nice Guys writer-director Shane Black dropped a quiet bombshell about his work on Iron Man 3.

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. 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.


So, we had to change the entire script because of toy making. Now, that’s not Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore.

Ike Perlmutter is gone.

Yeah, Ike’s gone. But 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.”

Killian was Guy Pierce’s villain from the film. So the original plan was that he wasn’t the true villain. There was a woman actually pulling the strings behind the scenes. Looking back over the characters, it isn’t too hard to guess who that would have been. Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen was one of the developers of the Extremis technology but she made a strange and abrupt exit from the movie. Perhaps she was the original mastermind? Black seems to confirm this.

Stéphanie Szostak’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it. Rebecca Hall’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it.

Szostak played super-powered henchwoman Elle Brandt who made a fair impression with limited screen time. Evidently we were supposed to have more of her — a lot more.. So not only did we lose a female criminal mastermind, we also lost a kick ass female henchwoman.

Like Paul Dini’s experiences with Young Justice, this is yet another director confirming that major studios are interfering in the creative process and squashing female characters — not for legitimate story reasons — but because they believe girls will not buy toys. When you combine that with the toy industry’s reluctance to make superhero toys for girls, and you have a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Hopefully, Marvel Studios will do better now that Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has been removed from the creative process. His views that “female heroes are a disaster” were well known in the industry.