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Marvel Axed Female Villain in Iron Man 3 Over Toy Sale Worries, Director Says

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The gender of the villain in Iron Man 3 was changed from female to male after Marvel reportedly expressed concerns over toy sales, according to director Shane Black in a recent interview with Uproxx. Black says the character of Aldrich Killian — a role that eventually went to Guy Pearce — was originally written for a woman.

“There was an early draft of Iron Man 3 where we had an inkling of a problem,” he 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.”

Read More: Marvel CEO Says in Leaked Email That Female Superhero Movies Have Been a ‘Disaster’

Black went on to say that the decision had nothing to do with current Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. “Now, that’s not Feige,” he said. “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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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com