Iron Man 3 director Shane Black has revealed that the movie's villain was originally written as a woman but that Marvel Studios overruled him. 

Black says he was sent a no holds barred memo from Marvel higher ups that he couldn't have a female villain as they were worried that toy merchandise wouldn't sell as well as a result. 

“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 [Marvel Studios president Kevin] Feige. That’s Marvel corporate.”

Black said that in the original script he had hoped audiences would assume the character was male, before her true gender was revealed. “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.’ ”

This is not something Marvel wanted in the news considering the bad press they've had in the past over their stance on female superheroes. In an email leaked during the Sony hack, Marvel Chief Executive Ian Perlmutter wrote to the CEO of Sony, Michael Lynton, with the subject line “Female Movies”. In the email he listed three superhero films with female leads he considered box office disasters: Electra, Catwoman and Supergirl.

Marvel plans to release their first female led superhero movie in 2019 with Captain Marvel. It will be the studio's 21st movie release. Kevin Feige has also recently commented that Marvel was 'committed' to making a Black Widow movie starring Scarlett Johannson but it's unlikely that it will go into production before the release of the two Avengers: Infinity Wars movies. 

Via The Guardian