UPDATED! Black Says Original ‘Iron Man 3’ Villain Was Female, But Nixed Because Girl Toys “Won’t Sell”
This time last year, a controversy started erupting about Disney, toys, and Marvel Studios‘ then-latest hit Avengers: Age of Ultron. A LEGO set was released, based on a prominent action scene in the film, but one of the players in that scene was conspicuous by *her* absence. From there, a #WheresNatasha campaign was launched as mothers and fathers of young girls asked hopelessly for toys featuring the sole female Avenger. Did Disney still labor under the opinion that a) girls don’t like action figures and b) that boys won’t play with girl action figures? Apparently that was the opinion of Disney execs, or at least it was circa 2013.
In a new interview Uproxx promoting his new film The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3 director Shane Black recalled a time when he wanted the film’s villain, Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pierce), to be a woman, but corporate dudes at Disney didn’t like that idea.
“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,” says Black. “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 [Kevin] Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore.”
The “Marvel corporate” Black was referring to was Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, who was more or less unceremoniously dumped from the Marvel film division last year with total creative control being given to Feige. Perlmutter was known for being cheap, and for having a gift in honking off prime talent with his penny-pinching. He’s also known for those old-fashioned attitudes about girls and toys.
“Yeah, Ike’s gone,” Black admits. “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.’”
As a result, the roles played by Rebecca Hall and Stephanie Szostak were diminished in screen time, which is fairly readable when you see the movie as they seem like characters that were meant to have bigger roles. There was one creative decision in Iron Man 3 that Black stands by, and it’s one that to this day still angers a lot of fans, the creation of fake Mandarin played by Ben Kingsley.
“We didn’t know,” Black says of the fan backlash. “We all thought they’d eat it up because it never occurred to us the Mandarin is as iconic to people as, say, the Joker in ‘Batman.’ They just wanted to see the magic rings shoot lasers. You’d need to take the piss out of it and explain how this can happen. In the comic books, it’s literally magic. It’s magic from outer space. I love the fans. I really want to please them.”
UPDATE! – May 17, 11:30 am
So perhaps this isn’t quite the controversy we think it is…. END UPDATE!
Black’s The Nice Guys is in theaters everywhere this Friday.
Source: Coming Soon