Shane Black Says Marvel Made Him Turn a Female Villain into a Man To Sell More Iron Man Toys. But the Problem is Fixed

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And Mel Gibson Should Direct Iron Man 4.

It’s time for another round of spot the contradictions! Whee! For today’s installment, let’s check in with Shane Black. Uproxx has an interview the director where he drops some bombs related to how women characters were handled in Iron Man 3. And although the knee-jerk reaction of some readers is always to blame interviewers for asking “the woman question,” let it be known that Black brought the subject up all by himself.

Black was asked if he agrees with Kevin Feige that Iron Man 3 was the toughest Marvel movie to make and he replied:

We had troubles. Memories are short. You can go through hell together, then six months later go, “That was kind of fun, wasn’t it, John?” The good news is, Downey and I seem to get on pretty well. We’ll bicker now and again, but to me just having him on board elevates the material. So, the toughness was in the logistics instead of the relationships. That’s the good news. We replaced a lot of things. The plot went this way and that way. 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.

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….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.”


The point Black was trying to make was that Ike Perlmutter was gone and Kevin Feige is better.

Update: Quite a few fans online are insisting Marvel actually made no toys of that particular character, which adds a new layer of who’s-to-blame intrigue to this interview. 

About Iron Man 4, if it ever comes to pass, Black says Mel Gibson should direct it. And also:

“I’ll go on record saying I don’t believe anyone should be held accountable in any way for something they say while they are drunk. It’s not who they are….Mel’s a great guy and I understand his new directing project is actually quite interesting. So, whatever. If you say something sober it’s one thing. If you’re drunk, you’re going to deliberately be belligerent just to piss people off.”

I’ll also go on record: I don’t know Mel Gibson personally and many people have said he has been an important person in their lives, including Robert Downey Jr. and Jodie Foster. So, whatever. However, I can’t agree that “anyone” gets a free pass for making anti-Semitic (“F****** Jews started all the wars”), racist (“if you get raped by a pack of n****** it will be your fault”) and homophobic (“they take it up the a**, this is only for taking a s***”) comments because they may have been drunk at the time.


It’s pretty brazen to pass all this off as someone just trying to be belligerent to piss someone off. Some people say things they do not really believe whilst drunk, while the booze brings out the truth-teller in others. Unfortunately Gibson’s various tirades were not isolated incidents. Gibson’s history of saying these things (and hitting his ex) – subjects Black brought up by the way – goes back decades.

Has this hurt Gibson’s career? Eh…. not really. He was dropped by his agency at the time and there was a firestorm of publicity and negative attention and half-apologies, but my gut tells me if he wants to direct Iron Man 4, and Downey wants him to direct Iron Man 4, it will happen. That’s also what Black seems to believe since he wanted to boost their chances via this interview. It also helps Black make more money in the event they make Lethal Weapon 5.


I don’t know enough about the inner-workings of Marvel to have an opinion on any of that stuff. However, when you’re willing and eager to turn over a multi-billion franchise to a guy who has smacked up his ex and said some horrifying things about women and Jews and gays, you can’t really claim that any of the problems relating to women in the entertainment industry are “fixed,” Shane.

Alex is a lawyer and opinionated.

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