Shane Black, for better and worse, has always been a straight shooter. The long-tenured screenwriter and filmmaker is making the press rounds for The Nice Guys as it ramps up to open in theaters on Friday, and out of one interview came some fairly eye-opening insight into what it’s like to direct a Marvel Studios production.
While chatting with Uproxx, the Iron Man 3 director was asked about the difficulties that factor into working on a film with so many different interests being served. He mentioned the following about some of the film’s unusual storytelling choices:
“[Black:] …so, the toughness [of the shoot] was in the logistics instead of the relationships. That’s the good news. We replaced a lot of things. The plot went this way and that way. Stéphanie Szostak’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it. Rebecca Hall’s character was bigger at one point and we reduced it.
[Uproxx:] Why? Rebecca Hall’s character does have an abrupt ending.
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 … So, we had to change the entire script because of toy making. Now, that’s not [Kevin] Feige. That’s Marvel corporate, but now you don’t have that problem anymore.”
Yikes. While Black does point out that the decision-makers in charge when this happened are not making those decisions anymore, it’s not as though this is a new issue with the marketing of massive, mainstream films; just last year, Star Wars fans were incensed by toy companies’ disinterest in including Daisy Ridley’s Rey, the film’s protagonist, in many of the toy tie-ins for the film. But it’s just one more reminder that, while a lot of positive change has washed over the industry in recent years, there’s still a lot of work to be done (industrially and culturally at large) to address just how much outdated logic is still applied to so many different facets of filmmaking.