Meet Riri Williams — a 15-year-old black woman and the new Iron Man


Marvel has been no stranger to mixing things up with its characters, from passing Thor’s hammer to a woman, to Miles Morales (another black teenager) donning the Spider-Man costume, and also rebranding Ms. Marvel as a Muslim teenager. That trend is continuing as Riri Williams, a 15-year old black woman and science genius, is poised to take over the Iron Man mantle from Tony Stark.

Invincible Iron Man cover

According to an exclusive interview between TIME and Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis, Tony Stark is stepping away from the Iron Man role at the end of the Civil War II comic book event series. Before you get your panties in a bunch over that Civil War II tidbit, Bendis is quick to clarify:

More people are going to be upset that they think they know the ending to Civil War II now than anything we just talked about. But I can tell you just because we’re hearing what we’re saying doesn’t know you mean how Civil War II ends. We’re not telling you the end, at all.

As for Ms. Williams, the young black woman is a 15-year-old MIT student and science genius. Stark takes notice of her when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm, something that has already transpired in the Iron Man comics.

In the latest issue of Iron Man, Tony is in a lab talking to himself, and he’s already aware that there’s some student at M.I.T. that’s reverse-engineered one of his old armors all by herself in her dorm room. He’s aware of her immediately.

Of course the move isn’t without controversy — as were some of the other recent character changes made by Marvel, but Bendis is no stranger to controversy, mostly from die hard fans.

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.

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.

Oh, and it’s also possible that Riri Williams might be just a little smarter than Tony Stark herself:

Her brain is maybe a little better than his.

This isn’t the first time Iron Man has been portrayed by a black woman, Rhodey Stark (Tony Stark’s alleged granddaughter) had that distinction as Iron Man 3030 in the Earth-12665 universe.

What do you think about the latest change to Marvel’s lineup of “classic” characters? Have you been following Civil War II and Iron Man and can see how this may play out? Any guesses on what the new Iron Man name will be when Invincible Iron Man #1 hits stores this fall? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

[button link=”” icon=”fa-external-link” side=”left” target=”blank” color=”285b5e” textcolor=”ffffff”]Source: TIME[/button]

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