Female Iron Man - Ironheart

Back in July, Marvel Comics announced that Tony Stark would be stepping down from the mantle of Iron Man and passing it off to a 15-year-old black girl named Riri Williams. Since the Iron Man title didn’t really apply anymore, she was revealed to take on the name of Ironheart.

Tony Stark already encountered Riri Williams in Invincible Iron Man #12 after the MIT prodigy reversed engineered an old Iron Man suit and used it to stop a prison break, but an upcoming issue of the comic gives us a little more insight into her backstory, including a glimpse at one of her suits.

Here’s the new Invincible Iron Man panels revealed by TIME:

These panels provide a little background for Riri Williams, showing the moment her parents are informed that she’s a super genius. While that’s good news, it’s clear her parents are also unsure of how to proceed to make sure she gets the attention she needs for the level of her intellect. And if you’re wondering just how smart she is, writer Brian Michael Bendis reveals, “She’s smarter than Tony.”

What’s interesting is how they approach this revelation as something that needs to be nurtured so she doesn’t get too caught up in her own head, become jaded with the world, and go down the path of a villain instead of a hero. Bendis explains more about this decision:

My wife and I always thought that was one of our jobs as parents. But then I discovered, through research, that it is a thing that gifted children need desperately. As we say in the story: high intellects, out of frustration, can sometimes retreat into their own world. This young woman has had that burden but she also has a grounded parent who helped her get to this point. But she also has had terrible tragedy that has informed her more than anything.

Some of the intellectual characters at Marvel get to the point where they want to conquer the world and make it over in their own image. The fact that Riri, even after all she has been through, does not makes her mother the hero of this story. And we need to celebrate that kind of thing more anyhow.

Marvel Comics has done an impressive job of creating a more diverse roster of heroes with ties to the classic characters that fans love. While some haven’t been as receptive to these changes, many fans like seeing how the Marvel universe is evolving. It should provide plenty of fuel for future Marvel movies down the road as the cinematic universe begins to explore other arenas from the comic books. After all, Robert Downey Jr. can’t be Iron Man forever, so maybe years from now we’ll see Riri Williams suit up as a female Iron Man on the big screen.

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