This Marvel Character Was Supposed To Be A Woman

Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX/Shutterstock.
It's no secret that the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't always do right by its women. Now, a new interview with Iron Man 3 director Shane Black reveals that we were actually deprived of a female villain in that movie — because of concerns over toy sales.

"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."

The female character was a variation on the role of Aldrich Killian, a part that eventually went to Guy Pearce. "In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian — and they didn’t want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian," Black explained. "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 took care to note that it wasn't Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige making this call; it was "Marvel corporate," he said. Black added: "You don't have that problem anymore," alluding to a change in Marvel's leadership. Regardless, that information still doesn't lessen the blow of the revelation, even if it's not particularly shocking.

Toy companies have repeatedly shown they have little faith in female characters. The Avengers' Black Widow, Guardians of the Galaxy's Gamora, and Star Wars' Rey have been notably excluded from merchandise in recent years.

Black's anecdote may also explain why Marvel hasn't been too invested in developing projects focused on women. Feige has discussed making a movie about Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), but it has not come to fruition. Meanwhile, Captain Marvel, the first Marvel movie set to focus solely on a female hero, isn't scheduled to come out until 2019. It's worth noting that Marvel has changed the gender of a traditionally male character to female for the screen. Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One in November's Doctor Strange, but that's not a lead role and comes with its own set of baggage.

At least there's some good news, coming from Marvel's rival. Warner Bros., which controls the DC Comics empire, is releasing a Wonder Woman film in 2017. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the studio is also mulling a movie centered around female heroes and villains featuring Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, who will make her debut in this summer's Suicide Squad.
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