Iron Man 3 was a huge success, but was also one that had fans divided about the villain, the Mandarin. As the character was nothing like what he was in the comics. In fact, in an interview with Uproxx, Iron Man 3 Director Shane Black revealed that the villain of the film wasn’t meant to be a guy at all:
“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 told 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.”
In fact, the character of Maya Hansen, who was big in the Extremis storyline in the Iron Man comics, was meant to have a bigger role herself, possibly be the big reveal, but Marvel Corporate wouldn’t allow it:
“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,'” Black said.