The Next Iron Man Will Be A 15-Year-Old Black Girl

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By Karen Valenzuela, @VictoriaNoir89

 

The events at the end of Civil War II have Tony Stark passing along his Iron Suit to another hero. In TIME’s exclusive with Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, he discusses the new Iron Man. Or should we say, Iron Woman?

 

Riri Williams is a fifteen year old African American girl who is enrolled at MIT. She’s a science genius whose brain is even more developed than Tony Stark’s was at the same age, according to Bendis, and she very quickly gets on Stark’s radar when he discovers she’s built her own version of an Iron Suit in her dorm room.

 

Arguably the most important part of the Riri character is that she grows up witnessing violence and tragedy. She comes from a tough background, but she perseveres to get into college. Instead of her situation causing her to dive into a life of crime and violence, she uses that experience to rise above and try to save the world. Bendis said that “using her science acumen, her natural born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me.”

 

Riri Williams TNM PIC 1

 

Just like with their introduction of Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man, Marvel readers have given both positive and negative feedback. Some have expressed their disdain for a black, young female as Tony Stark’s replacement. But many others are excited to see something new, something that perhaps reflects more of what an audience in 2016 wants to see in their superheroes–not just a black hero, but a young black woman who is born into a life in which society and politics are stacked against her, a young black woman who still manages to rise above and succeed in spite of all of that.

 

To say this will be a turning tide for superhero comics might be an understatement. This isn’t any old superhero we’re talking about. This is Iron Man. People of color, and especially young women of color, will be able to pick up an issue of Iron Man–or whichever super-name Riri Williams ends up with–and they will be able to see themselves in her. They’ll see themselves in one of the biggest and most popular heroes in the Avengers. This is massively huge.

 

In the interview, Brian Michael Bendis was careful to say that this announcement does not spoil the ending of Civil War II. So don’t worry! No spoilers here! According to Bendis, Tony Stark will still have a journey ahead of him, in spite of no longer being Iron Man, but he will also open the door for Riri to take over. In fact, a large part of the upcoming storyline will be about Tony searching for this 15 year old girl who’s been flying around the country in an Iron Suit she built.

 
Are you excited about Riri Williams? Sad to see Tony Stark go? Let us know in the comments!

 

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    3 Comments

  1. StormsJuly 7th, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Although the idea of having a young girl (of any race color or creed really) is an awesome leap forward for Marvel Superheroes, I kind of wish she had her own persona to build, not take over a persona that another character paid for with his own blood, sweat and tears. Have Tony being her mentor would be awesome but let her create something on her own laurels.

  2. RonJuly 7th, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I agree with Storms

  3. LumenkaJuly 8th, 2016 at 2:11 am

    Have nothing against the new character, would love to see a new nerd in the Marvel universe, but OMG that’s not a replacement for Stark!

    He’s a charismatic playboy. So sure of himself. When you meet such a person, you want him to like you. That’s what drove us toward the Stark persona. None of the other characters fill up this role. Cap is too sweet.

    Give me another smoking hot genius. A bad boy!

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