Shane Black's Iron Man 3 is well-known for a major twist regarding its villain. Who could have imagined a behind-the-scenes twist could be even more surprising? In a new interview, Black says that in an early draft of the script the main villain was female, but Marvel executives told him he had to change it. "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," Black told Uproxx. "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."
Black explained this was not a mandate of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige; it was from "Marvel corporate". He also added "you don't have that problem anymore", a reference to the fact that Marvel Studios in California now operates independently of Marvel corporate in New York, reporting directly to Disney (possibly because of requests like this).
"New York called and said, 'That's money out of our bank,' Black continued. "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.'"
Besides the obvious sexism here, the dollars and cents of it don't add up as most of Marvel's many toy licensors didn't even end up making any action figures of Aldrich Killian. So any "money out of [their] bank" wasn't even an issue. (This is also around the time that Black Widow toys were impossible to find at the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, if true, it explains a lot.)
If Black is to be believed — and honestly why would he lie? — this seems like a prime example of why Marvel Studios may have wanted to break away from its larger corporate entity.