Your mileage may vary, but Shane Black‘s 2013 film Iron Man 3 is arguably Marvel’s most original, genre-busting entry yet … but it could have been even more so. On the heroic side of things, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) had his traditional role handled, but he partnered up with a kick-ass Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who had some strong heroic moments of her own. On the villainous side, there was a fantastic reveal (probably the best in Marvel movie history) regarding Ben Kingsley‘s Mandarin role, but there was also the troublesome and problematic Aldrich Killian, as played by Guy Pearce.
However, Rebecca Hall, who played the jilted one-night-stand/brilliant scientist Maya Hansen, originally had a much more substantial role than the aforementioned one. As we previously reported, when Black was developing the film, Killian was going to be gender swapped, but Black was forced by certain Marvel execs to make the character male for fear of negatively impacting toy sales. Here’s what he had to say:
“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.
“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.’”
Black didn’t come right out and say that Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter was the one behind the decision, but it certainly wasn’t Kevin Feige. That was then, this is now.
I signed on to do something that was a substantial role. She wasn’t entirely the villain – there have been several phases of this – but I signed on to do something very different to what I ended up doing. Halfway through shooting they were basically like, ‘What would you think if you just got shot out of nowhere?’ I was meant to be in the movie until the end… I grappled with them for awhile and then I said, ‘Well, you have to give me a decent death scene and you have to give me one more scene with Iron Man,’ which Robert Downey Jr. supported me on.
Hall will probably not forget that slight any time soon, though she has come out in support of one of Marvel’s latest, more inspired casting announcements:
Look, [Marvel] is paying for their mistakes right now. and I applaud them for casting Brie Larson in Captain Marvel. Hallelujah. It’s about time women started being the heroes of things. They can also be the anti-heroes of the things and that’s what I feel I’m getting to do with Christine.
I’m not sure how exactly Marvel is paying for their mistakes, but perhaps the studio is learning from them at the very least. As for Hall, you can see her in Christine, which opens on October 14, 2016. The aforementioned Captain Marvel will bow on March 8, 2019.