In an interview with Uproxx, director Shane Black talked about many things, including his original plans for Iron Man 3:
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 Feige. That's Marvel corporate, but now you don't have that problem anymore.
Ike Perlmutter is gone.
Yeah, Ike's gone. 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."
I like the Remington Steele comparison. That would have been great.
I remember Remington Steele probably better than it is. But just so you know, too, I'm a Kevin Feige fan. If you ever say anything about decisions made at Marvel, I hope you'll qualify it by saying that Kevin Feige is the guy who gets it right. And I don't know if it was Ike, I don't know who it was. They never told me who made the decision, we just got that memo one day and it was about toy sales. That's all I know.
And the thing is they didn't even make toys of the villain! There's a Lego and a Minimate, but Hasbro sure never made one in any scale. That's like changing your plot so you don't offend leprechauns.
Stephen Colbert even talked about the attitude with Jessica Jones' Krysten Ritter: