Update: When Marvel's Tony Stark passes the torch to Riri Williams, her character will be known as Ironheart. Marvel confirmed the superhero title exclusively to Wired. Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis said Iron Maiden and Iron Woman were considered, but Ironheart gets to the crux of the link between Stark and Williams. "[Ironheart] speaks not only to the soul of the character but to the Iron Man franchise as a whole," Bendis told Wired. "Tony first put on the armor to save his heart. Riri puts it on for different reasons altogether but still heart-related." This article was originally published on July 6, 2016.
Marvel is making a groundbreaking change to its iconic Iron Man character. At the end of the limited series Civil War II, the follow-up to 2006's Civil War (on which the latest Captain America film is based), Tony Stark will hand the reigns over to Riri Williams, a Black woman. Writer Brian Michael Bendis spoke to Time magazine about the creative shift in an exclusive interview.
The eight-issue miniseries, illustrated by David Marquez and Justin Ponsor, marks a major shakeup for one of Marvel's most beloved characters, the latest in a string of superheroes contributing to a more diversified landscape. Marvel is surely trying to do its part to up representations of women and people of color; its roster of female-starring comics has risen from zero in 2012 to more than 16 now. And Iron Man isn't the first Avenger to drop the Y chromosome. In 2015, the new Thor was revealed to be Jane Foster (portrayed by Natalie Portman in the films), formerly a background character now worthy of wielding the mighty Mjölnir. Riri Williams will be joining her, as well as Muslim-American teen Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) and Latino Miles Morales (Spider-Man) in this new, more diverse Marvel Universe. For anyone questioning her qualifications, "Riri is a science genius who enrolls at MIT at the age of 15," Bendis told Time. She first catches Tony's eye when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm. Bendis continued, "Her brain is maybe a little bit better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique." In case you have any lingering doubts as to whether she's up to the task, I suggest picking up the next few issues of Civil War II. I know I will be.