Given the regular furores and petitions that spring up over the lack of female superhero toys from fans and parents, one might think that film studios such as Marvel would be doing more to get them on the shelves.

However, it has emerged that Marvel, which makes blockbuster adaptations inspired by its comic book stories, vetoed having a female villain in Iron Man 3, the Tony Stark film that was released in 2013.

Iron Man 3 writer and director Shane Black told the Uproxx website that although he had written the film with a female villain, there wasn't one on screen because Marvel feared it would hurt toy sales.

It is believed that originally Rebecca Hall would have been cast as a version of Aldrich Killian, the film's puppet-master baddie who was eventually played by Guy Pearce.


Marvel has long faced criticism over the lack of women in its films. It has one female-led superhero film slated for release in coming years - Captain Marvel - which has been pushed back twice to accommodate male-fronted films, until March 2019. They are currently being trumped by rival studio DC, who will release a standalone Wonder Woman film next summer and are reportedly working on a standalone Harley Quinn film that will feature Batgirl and the Birds of Prey to boot.

In October, a study of the the top grossing 25 films between 2006 and 2015 showed that those that had female-focused plotlines made US$45.5 million ($67.4 million) more than those about men.