Marvel has found a new Iron Man to don Tony Stark's armor after Civil War II wraps later this summer -- and her name is Riri Williams.
Riri, a 15-year-old MIT student introduced in Marvel's Invincible Iron Man #9, will be rocking the Iron Man armor she reverse-engineered in her dorm room long-term. On Wednesday (July 6), prolific Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis announced that they will be relaunching the Invincible Iron Man title with Riri, a young black woman, as its groundbreaking new protagonist.
Bendis, who's currently writing the title, said that he came to the decision to create the character after realizing how underrepresented young black women were on Marvel's pages. "I think what's most important is that the character is created in an organic setting," he told Time. "We never had a meeting saying, ‘We need to create this character.' [She's] inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture."
But Riri isn't just filling Stark's shoes; she's reconfiguring them. "Her brain is maybe a little better than his," Bendis said. "She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique."
Needless to say, people were psyched to see Riri in action.
And some even started casting for the inevitable movie.
However, the news highlighted an even larger issue: the fact that Marvel isn't hiring very many women or people of color to pen these diverse titles. Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther is one of the most celebrated new comics of 2016, and yet zero women of color contributed to Riri's creation. Again, this just shows how important it is to have people of color behind the scenes as well as on the cover.
Still, Riri Williams deserves to be celebrated. I can't imagine how many young girls, especially girls of color, will read Invincible Iron Man #1 and believe that they, too, can be superheroes. They can build armor. They can be engineers. They can fly.
It's about damn time.