Marvel’s New Iron Man Is Riri Williams—A Black Woman

By Sameer Rao Jul 06, 2016

Although Riri Williams might not exactly adopt the "Iron Man" moniker, a new Marvel character—a Black woman—will step into the iconic genius superhero’s suit in upcoming comics. 


Character creator Brian Michael Bendis told Time in an exclusive interview published yesterday (July 6) that Williams will take over for Tony Stark towards the end of the "Civil War II" comic book series. The piece describes Williams as a "science genius who enrolls in MIT at the age of 15" and replicates her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room. 

Bendis, who co-created Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Miles Morales characters, described some hardline fans’ racist responses to the new character:

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.

He also elaborated on the character’s origins, saying that he was inspired while working in Chicago:

One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn’t end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life—just random street violence—and went off to college was very inspiring to me. I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard. And I sat with it for awhile until I had the right character and the right place.

Read the full interview here.