The 'Iron Man 3' Villain Was Originally Female, But Disney Wanted More Toy Sales

Disney seems to have a very specific problem when it comes to women and the studio's biggest franchises. They don't mind cranking out merchandise for the latest Disney animated princess, but when it comes to Star Wars and Marvel...well, their thinking is a little old-fashioned. We've seen issues pop up in regards to the curious lack of merchandise for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Daisy Ridley's Rey, and now we're learning that kind of mentality affected Iron Man 3, too.

The Nice Guys director Shane Black also was at the helm for Iron Man 3, and he says the original villain was a female, but Marvel forced a change because male toys sell better. Ugh that's awful. He tells Uproxx...

"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."

You may recall that whole flap a few months ago with the Marvel Creative Committee, the group led by Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter that micromanaged the MCU to death. Kevin Feige fought to get the group disbanded and to basically run the MCU on his own, and Black says the decision to change the villain may have come from Perlmutter. Basically, don't blame Feige.

"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.”"

Black also reiterated Robert Downey Jr.'s comments from a couple of years ago that he'll do Iron Man 4, but only if Mel Gibson directs it.

“I think he wants Mel Gibson to direct it. And for good reason. Mel was great to him. 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. It’s not who they are. I know this because I’ve said horrible things to people and made them feel bad. And it wasn’t who I was, I was just drunk. Mel’s a great guy and I understand his new directing project [‘Hacksaw Ridge‘] is actually quite interesting.”

When Downey's career was in the dumps due to his own personal demons it was Gibson who gave him a comeback shot in The Singing Detective. The rest is history. Now maybe it's Downey's turn to do Gibson a solid. Doubtful the family-friendly folks at Disney would green light something like that, but stranger things have happened.