Black Talks Marvel Success & Female Villains

In the past we’ve heard about some rather stupid decisions by both Disney and Marvel in regards to toy manufacturing and their treatment of female characters. The lack of toys based on Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Daisy Ridley’s Rey characters was met with outrage to the point that Disney had to issue them in ‘second waves’ and even then there seemed to be reluctance.

Now, filmmaker Shane Black has spoken about a similar problem on the creative side at Marvel and Disney which he encountered when he made “Iron Man 3” a few years ago. Speaking with Uproxx, he revealed some major script changes took place – one of which was the changing of the gender of the villain:

“We replaced a lot of things. The plot went this way and that way. Stephanie Szostak’s character (an Extremis baddie) was bigger at one point and we reduced it. Rebecca Hall’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it.

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.

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.'”

Black goes on to say that this wasn’t a decision that Kevin Feige made, but rather Marvel corporate – thankfully it’s also not as much a problem anymore with the splitting off of Marvel Entertainment from Marvel Studios.

Black also spoke with Screen Rant about why Marvel has had such creative success:

“The reason (Marvel is) scoring so big at the box office is they have these mythic caped heroes come striding out of the fog, lit from below and backlit. And then they stub their toe! They remember to do that part. Even with the latest one Captain America: Civil War, The Winter Soldier is brutalized and tortured. But then there’s this scene where he’s in the back of a car (chuckles) and he’s just nudging his buddy, ’cause Cap’s kissing a girl. They know to do that…they know to go straight to that kind of a choice. Those decisions are made routinely there.

I am really a fan of the Marvel sensibility, mostly because the guys running the show-the studio itself-they’re comic book guys. They grew up with this shit. It’s very important (to them). When I was leaving to go home (on Iron Man 3), Kevin Feige was staying ’til midnight working to get the details right from these comic books. I just think that’s why they’re good. Everyone else is a suit trying to make a superhero movie, and these guys are comic book guys.”

Shane Black’s “The Nice Guys” opens in cinemas this week.