Marvel’s New Iron Man Is a Black Woman, and She’s Amazing








(Someone please cosplay this immediately. Photo via Marvel)

Marvel has been shaking things up in the comics world lately, and today they just made a pretty major announcement: Tony Stark is stepping down as Iron Man, and a young black woman named Riri Williams is taking up the mantle helmet.

 According to a Time interview with Invincible Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis, Riri Williams is a science prodigy who was accepted to MIT at the age of 15. When even MIT isn’t enough of a challenge for her genius, Williams decided to try her hand at building herself a suit of flying armor like Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. In her college dorm.

Stark, of course, knows about this immediately.

“You imagine that Tony has ‘Iron Man armor’ on his Google Alerts,” Bendis said. “He’s also aware that this young woman is flying by him in terms of how quickly she’s doing it. Her brain is maybe a little better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique. He can’t help but go, ‘Maybe I should buy her out.'”

Through various events in Civil War II, Tony Stark is going to be stepping away from the Iron Man suit, and it sounds like he’s picked Williams to be his successor. If there’s anything Stark respects, it’s genius, and Williams is a genius.

Bendis says he’s getting less blowback from traditionalist fans than one might expect, in large part because he’s been down this road before with Miles Morales, who took over as Spider-Man, and Kamala Khan, who is the new Ms. Marvel. There was some resistance to those changes, but by and large even the skeptical comics fans realized those characters were well-written, three-dimensional heroes who brought something new and vital to their books, and those characters have come to be much beloved by old and new fans. Bendis explained:

“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.

But increasingly we see less and less of that. Once Miles hit, and Kamala Khan hit and female Thor hit””there was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it’s here, you’ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love.”

Williams is reportedly going to be calling herself Iron Man, at least at first. She might change her handle later. She’s got the blessing of Tony Stark, and the fans will follow. Also, she looks pretty spectacular. Someone please cosplay her immediately.


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