‘Iron Man 3’ writer says Marvel vetoed idea of female villain to sell more toys

Screenwriter Shane Black says the memo came from Marvel's 'corporate' division

Iron Man 3 screenwriter Shane Black has claimed that Marvel forced him and co-writer Drew Pearce to change a key character’s gender in a bid to sell more action figures.

Black revealed that actresses Rebecca Hall and Stéphanie Szostak, who played Maya Hansen and Brandt in the 2013 movie, both had larger parts at an earlier stage in the screenwriting process before their roles were “reduced”.

When asked why, Black told 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.”

Black explained later in the interview that it was Guy Pearce’s character Killian, who is revealed at the end of the film to be the main villain, who was originally conceived as female.

“In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian – and they didn’t want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian,” Black said. “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 clarified that it wasn’t Marvel’s president Kevin Feige who made the decision to change Killian’s gender, but the company’s “corporate” division, adding: “But now you don’t have that problem anymore.”