Fans of Marvel Comics have gotten used to fresh new takes on their traditional superheroes in recent years. Thor became a woman, a black man took over as Captain America, and the current Ms. Marvel is a Muslim teenager from Jersey City. On Wednesday morning, news emerged that yet another marquee character was in for a big change.
This time it’s Iron Man, and a black woman named Riri Williams will be replacing billionaire playboy Tony Stark in the suit. The character, who was introduced earlier this year, will be headlining a new “Invincible Iron Man” series that will be spun out of Marvel’s “Civil War II” event. Brian Michael Bendis will write it, while Stefano Caselli will draw the art.
While Marvel’s recent approach to diversifying the makeup of its superhero stable has earned raves, it’s also triggered a lot of outrage among comics purists. Bendis addressed this in an interview with Time: “Some of the comments online, I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound,” he said. However, Bendis also acknowledges that he’s seen less of this kind of attitude as audiences flock to the new versions of tried-and-true characters.
As the new Iron Man, Riri Williams will have some big metal boots to fill, but Bendis describes her as a more-than-capable substitute for Tony Stark, who’s played by Robert Downey, Jr., in Marvel Studios’ blockbuster superhero films. Williams, like Stark, was a science prodigy. She enrolled in MIT at 15 and built her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room, which caught the attention of Stark.
“Her brain is maybe a little better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique,” Bendis told Time.
The new “Invincible Iron Man” series will kick off this fall.