Okay, this is a curious one. Uproxx ran an interview with Iron Man 3 director Shane Black in which he stated that the bad guy of the film, Aldrich Killian was a script change. Originally the big bad was going to be a woman and he suggest that would have been one of the other female characters in the film.
Stéphanie Szostak’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it. Rebecca Hall’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it.
Why? Rebecca Hall’s character does have an abrupt ending.
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.
Ike Perlmutter is gone.
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. 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.”
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But only /Film, had time to do one simple thing.
There were no action figures put out that were based on Killian. No individual toys. Nothing even from Hot Toys (they did the Trevor Slattery Mandarin). All you got was a HeroClix figure as part of a set…
Is half a Minimate really worth changing a movie villain’s gender over?
It is worth noting that Pepper Potts only appeared in exclusive convention-only Minimates toys, but she did get this figure from Hot Toys.
And no one at Marvel seemed to have any problem with that. There have, of course, been plenty of occasions when Marvel/Disney appear to have pulled back on the female representation in toylines. But has this ever before been a reason to change the films themselves?
Checking in with East Coast sources, I have received denials that any such memo or instruction regarding gender-switching an Iron Man 3 villain existed. I can see why it might have been believable, Bleeding Cool broke the story last year about Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter‘s list of female-focused superhero films that we inferred expressed his displeasure with the box office potential. But it’s also worth remembering that he also pushed the Spider-Gwen character at Marvel, personally green lighting the comic book ahead pushing a Spider-Gwen movie at Sony.
But in this case, as far as I can ascertain there was no memo from Marvel. Possibly from toy manufacturers Hasbro, as they had just re-upped their master toy license with Marvel at the time. But I have also been told repeatedly that when Kevin Feige gave actors, producers, directors some bad news, but didn’t want to be personally associated with the decision, he would always say it came from the comic book side of Marvel, based in New York. Whether it did or didn’t, it was a handy scapegoat. And Marvel Comics was happy to play that role if necessary. Sometimes you need a good cop and bad cop.
Of course, since Marvel Comics have now been removed from the Marvel Films equation, Feige reports directly to Disney and Civil War is the last movie that the likes of Joe Quesada, Brian Bendis and Dan Buckley will have creative input on, changes may have to be made that. Could Disney be willing to play the role that Marvel Comics once did?
Bear in mind as well, that Marvel doesn’t call the shots with respect to what toys get made, the licensee does.
This is also why there originally there were barely any Rey Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. Disney doesn’t make that call, the licensee does.
Often fans are yelling at the wrong people. But the yells do get noticed.
More on this to come….