When out promoting his latest films The Nice Guys, Shane Black noted back his experiences with directing Iron Man 3 in an interview with Uproxx. Whether the split reception of the film has caused you to like it hate it, there may be more fingers to point than Black’s involvement.
Black spoke about Marvel’s control over the matter of the script, with one particular of him stressing the identity of the villain.
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.”
If it worked to his favor, the role would have been played by Rebecca Hall (who still played Maya Hansen in the film) as opposed to Guy Pearce. Black went on to continue what his initial plan was:
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.”
This isn’t the last time Marvel diminished female characters for toy marketing. Gamora, the sole female member of Guardians of the Galaxy, was excluded from T-shirts and toys for kids when the film was originally released because they didn’t believe it would attract the demographic. Similar occurrences happened with the female characters Black Widow and Scarlett Witch upon the release of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, even going as far as to completely censor Black Widow from the toyline featuring her own scene.
We only hope Marvel films take some inspiration from the Netflix Marvel. With highly acclaimed shows like Agent Carter and Jessica Jones, the superhero demographic has proven that female characters, if not leads, are very well accepted by the community.