‘Iron Man 3’s Main Villain Was Originally Supposed to be a Female, According to Shane Black

By May 17, 2016

Possibly the most divisive of all of Marvel’s films, Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 was one of the biggest topics of discussion amongst the fan community in 2013, and remains a constant subject of debate even to this day as well. You can learn fairly quickly, what kind of a Marvel fan someone is by whether or not they liked the film, which makes it probably one of the more interesting films in the universe’s lineup as well.

You can’t talk about the film though, without talking about the twist, which involved revealing Ben Kingsley’s seemingly menacing version of the Mandarin to actually be nothing more than a paid, coked out British actor working for Guy Pearce’s Killian, the real Mandarin.

As it turns out, the film’s villain was originally supposed to be a female as well, but Marvel forced Black and the creative team (including Kevin Feige) to change the script because they didn’t think a female villain would sell as many toys (via 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… So, we had to change the entire script because of toy making. Now, that’s not Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore.”

I’m not even going to get into the extreme level of wrongness involved in this decision by Marvel corporate (Black went on to stress heavily that Kevin Feige had no say in the matter, unfortunately) because that’s a rabbit hole I can’t go down.

I do recommend checking out the full interview though because it’s a fascinating one, with Black revealing that the Marvel one-shot “Hail the King” was in fact Marvel’s attempt to please fans and tell them that “No, that wasn’t actually the Mandarin, he’s really alive still!” Black even reveals that no one involved in the movie had anticipated the backlash that the decision would face, and that they thought fans would actually eat it up, rather than say, spit it out back at them.

Apparently both Rebecca Hall and Stephanie Szostack’s characters’ roles in the film were reduced as well in the later drafts, which makes sense considering Hall’s rather abrupt end in the film. It’s interesting to hear Black talk so extensively about the divisve film though, and while I’m one of the few who wasn’t a huge fan of Iron Man 3, I can respect the ballsy moves that Black and co. attempted to take with the story. He tried to make a Shane Black movie fit into the Marvel cinematic universe, and it worked for the most part. But sometimes, as Black puts it, when it comes to their villains, fans  “just wanted to see the magic rings shoot lasers.”

Make sure to keep checking back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

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Alex Welch

Alex Welch

Alex dreams of meeting a girl with a yellow umbrella, and spends too much time* staring at a movie screen. His vocabulary consists mostly of movie quotes and 80s song lyrics. *Debatable
  • David Johnson

    How many Kingsley or Pierce toys did they end up selling?????