Iron Man 3 director Shane Black claims that Marvel nixed the director's original plans to have a female lead villain in the 2013 over what he said were concerns about sales of female toys. In an interview with Uproxx, Black goes into detail about the role, which evolved to become Rebecca Hall's Maya Hansen.
"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," Black said. "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 was careful to say that it wasn't Marvel Studios or its president Kevin Feige, but referred to "Marvel corporate" and "New York." The interview mentioned Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter being "gone" from oversight of the film division, and Black confirmed.
"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," 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 goes on to endorse Feige, and clarify that he doesn't know if the decision came from Perlmutter himself or someone under him at Marvel Entertainment.
"But just so you know, too, I’m a Kevin Feige fan. If you ever say anything about decisions made at Marvel, I hope you’ll qualify it by saying that Kevin Feige is the guy who gets it right," said the director. "And I don’t know if it was Ike, I don’t know who it was. They never told me who made the decision, we just got that memo one day and it was about toy sales. That’s all I know."