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Iron Man 3’ Director Says Female Villain Was Cut Over Toy Sale Concerns

LOS ANGELES — Shane Black, director of "Iron Man 3," revealed that the original villain in the third installment of the Iron Man franchise received a gender-swap before going into production.

"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," Black said in interview with online news site Uproxx.

"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 added.

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Hasbro Inc. toys based on the "Iron Man" character, at a Toys "R" Us Inc. store in New York, U.S. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Black said many of the female roles were reduced in "Iron Man 3" — including actress Stephanie Szostak as bad gal Ellen Brandt and Rebecca Hall as scientist Maya Hansen.

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Comic-book fans became critical of the film after one of the main villains of the "Iron Man" universe, Mandarin, was revealed to not be main antagonist in a plot twist. Actor Guy Pearson took over the role as the villain, playing scientist Aldrich Killian.

"In the earlier draft, the woman was essentially Killian — and they didn't want a female Killian, they wanted a male Killian," Black continued. "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 said Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, had nothing to do with the decision and that "we had to change the entire script because of toy making."