Marvel?s new Iron Man is a Woman and Her Name is Riri Williams

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Marvel recently announced that the events at the end of The Civil War II comic book series may force Tony Stark to step out of the Iron Man suit and let a precocious young black woman named Riri Williams take over the Iron Man persona.

But it?s not really a case of the original character dying and being replaced. Instead, Tony learns that someone else?who is smarter and can think ahead of him?has been tinkering with his old armor and flying around in it.

That ?someone else? is Riri Williams.

At 15, Riri Williams is a science genius at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Tony Stark takes notice of her after he discovers that Riri is able to build her very own Iron Man suit inside her dorm room by reverse-engineering one of Tony?s old armors.

Riri Williams

In his exclusive interview with Time, Brian Michael Bendis, the creator and writer of Iron Man, said that the inspiration behind the story of Riri Williams was ?tragedy and chaos.? He was in Chicago, working on a TV show when the idea came to him a couple of years ago.

?One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn?t end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life?just random street violence?and went off to college was very inspiring to me. I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard. And I sat with it for awhile until I had the right character and the right place.

?As we?ve been slowly and hopefully very organically adding all these new characters to the Marvel Universe, it just seemed that sort of violence inspiring a young hero to rise up and act, and using her science acumen, her natural born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where even Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me.?

Brian said that the news of Riri Williams taking on the Iron Man persona drew mixed reactions from fans. He?s happy that fans didn?t shoot down the idea right away, and instead, gave Riri?s story the benefit of the doubt.

?Thankfully because of my involvement in the creation of Miles Morales and Jessica Jones and some other characters, it?s getting the benefit of the doubt from even the most surly fans. There are fans who say, ?Show us the new stuff,? and then there are fans who say, ?Don?t do anything different from when I was a kid.? So when you?re introducing new characters, you?re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood.

?I?ve been down this road with Miles Morales, Jessica Jones, Maria Hill. I knew I was in good hands with Mike Deodato and other artists who are helping visualize Riri.?

But still, there are some who didn?t hesitate to express their disappointment when they first heard the news. Brian said that the some of the comments that he?s read online tend to be a bit racist.

?Some of the comments online, I don?t think people even realize how racist they sound. I?m not saying if you criticize you?re a racist, but if someone writes, ?Why do we need Riri Williams we already have Miles?? that?s a weird thing to say. They?re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals. All I can do is state my case for the character, and maybe they?ll realize over time that that?s not the most progressive thinking.

?But increasingly we see less and less of that. Once Miles hit, and Kamala Khan hit and female Thor hit?there was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it?s here, you?ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love. I think what?s most important is that the character is created in an organic setting. We never had a meeting saying, ?we need to create this character.? It?s inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture.?

Brian also explained how Riri Williams would enter the picture. He said that Riri comes at the time Tony Stark is dealing with some major blows in his personal life and career.

?We?re in the middle of a very big Tony Stark storyline?actually three storylines converging. His best friend died, his company is collapsing and he?s finding out who his biological parents were all at the same time. That?s stressful for a character who is wired the way Tony is wired and has dependency issues the way Tony does.?

?Tony is also a master at not paying attention to the thing that?s most important and distracting himself with Avengers stuff. How that all shakes out such that Tony is no longer in the armor? You?ll have to wait to find out for the end of Civil War II. But it does create a path for Riri Williams, who Tony will know and will be interacting with very shortly in the comics.?

Brian also suggested that Riri Williams, young as she is, may be smarter than Tony Stark.

?He?s also aware that this young woman is flying by him in terms of how quickly she?s doing it. Her brain is maybe a little better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique. He can?t help but go maybe I should buy her out.?

It?s not sure yet if Tony Stark would give up the Iron Man suit once and for all. Who knows, we might even end up having a male and a female Iron Man in the Marvel universe in the near future.

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