With Civil War II now off to the races, Marvel is gearing up for its next big shake-up. Time reports that, by the end of the event, Tony Stark will pass the mantle of Iron Man to 15-year-old Riri Williams, a young genius, former MIT student, and the first black woman to don the armor. (She likely won’t keep the Iron Man name, though.)
Riri was first introduced to readers back in May’s Invincible Iron Man #9. In that story, she’d just reverse engineered her own Iron Man armor, though it wound up getting her kicked out of school. According to series writer and Civil War II architect Brian Michael Bendis, Tony Stark quickly discovers her and, in the midst of all the turmoil going on in his life, sets out to meet her in person.
Riri Williams is a young genius who designed her own Iron Man armor
“One of the things Tony does to distract himself from all the things going on in his life,” Bendis told Time, “is he goes to find this young woman who is flying around the middle of America in an armor that’s not completely made to try to find out what her deal is.”
Fans who’ve been paying attention will also note that Riri figures prominently in the artwork promoting Marvel’s next initiative, Divided We Stand, which, according to Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, will be the new status quo for the comics company’s properties going forward.
It’s worth noting that Riri isn’t the first person of color or woman to take up the Iron Man mantle over the years. Characters like James “Rhodey” Rhodes and even Aunt May Parker (yes, we know it was a What If? story) have all suited up over the years. But Riri taking center stage makes her part of a generation of Marvel heroes featuring Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, Sam Wilson, and Jane Foster, who’ve all stepped into classic superhero roles and made them their own while making the Marvel universe more diverse in the process. Even if Tony Stark is still around for the foreseeable future (and he probably will be in some capacity) it’s good to see the House of Ideas embracing more change.