Iron “Man” won’t be a man for much longer. Come this fall, a young black girl with a fierce afro will assume The Golden Avenger mantle.
At the end of the comic book series, Civil War II, Iron Man steps out of his suit and a new character, Riri Williams, takes over. Riri is a science genius, who attended MIT at the age of 15. She catches Tony’s attention when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room. It isn’t until the child prodigy takes his armor for a test drive that he seeks her out.
Iron Man writer and creator Brian Michael Bendis received inspiration for Riri’s character after working on a Chicago TV show. Bendis says he was inspired by the redemption stories of the youth overcoming their environment and succeeding to their highest potential.
With growing communities of black women who love comic books, like Black Girl Nerds, this is giving representation to an audience that doesn’t get much attention. It’s also got the potential inspire more women of color (and women, in general) to go into STEM fields.
Bendis also says that although we are getting a new Iron Man, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the end for Tony Stark. In the meantime, Riri’s origin and motivation will definitely blaze a new trail for the series.