Black Panther Wakanda Forever brings us one of the newest Marvel comic book characters to the MCU—Riri “Ironheart” Williams. But who is RiRi Williams aka Ironheart?
Riri Williams aka Ironheart
However, while we'll get a quick intro to Riri in Wakanda Forever as she works alongside Shuri, one of the new series coming to Disney+ is “Ironheart.” Starring Dominique Thorne as Riri “Ironheart” Williams, “Ironheart” is a live-action show slated for Fall 2023.
Who is Riri Williams aka Ironheart?
Comic fans may be familiar with Riri's origin story—child genius turned hero donning an advanced Tony Stark suit. But for the non-comic readers, we've got you. Here's a quick background on Riri Williams' history.
The Comic Origin Story of Riri Williams aka Ironheart
First introduced in “Invincible Iron Man” #7 (2015), Riri quickly became a fan favorite with her black girl brilliance and as Tony Stark fan who creates her own suit of armor. The two would eventually meet.
Riri Williams comic controversy
Nothing good comes without controversy in our society. Because Riri was created by a white male comic creator (Brian Michael Bendis) with zero input from any black females and an overly sexualized cover of a teen girl per common comic styling, which was later changed, you can imagine some of the backlash that ensued regarding the portrayal of how black girls and women are seen in society.
Riri Williams aka Ironheart gets her own comic series
Ultimately the popularity of Riri’s character led to her own series in 2016, “Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart.” The “Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart” series gave deeper look at Riri’s backstory.
Riri is a 15-year-old Chicago native who lived with her mother and paternal Aunt Sharon after her father died. Attending MIT on an engineering scholarship, the genius tech hacker designed a suit using stolen materials from campus and makes some major enemies along the way.
Much to her aunt's chagrin, Riri becomes a crime-fighting superhero, and this is when her work captures the eye of her superhero tech idol Tony Stark, and he essentially endorses Riri to become the next suited hero the world needs.
Riri takes Tony’s place following his coma after the events of Civil War II and later becomes Ironheart.
Obviously, this can't jive with the MCU as Stark died at the end of Avengers: Endgame but this is a pretty smooth tie-in with Stark gone.
Comic Crossovers with Riri Williams
In the comics, Pepper and Riri often crossed paths. Pepper would often show concern for Riri.
In one storyline, Riri saves Moon Girl (dubbed the smartest person in the Marvel Universe) and helps her fend off Doctor Doom. Riri is also seen battling Hydra in “Marvel’s Secret Empire” (2017) storyline.
Riri Williams and a new era: 2018 and beyond
Eve Ewing, a black woman writer, scholar, and Chicago native, took over the writing mantle in 2018, bringing Riri into her own as a hero. Ewing develops Riri into a character with much more depth than just a teen “girl Iron Man.”
In 2019, Riri also appeared in the “Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron” animated special for an MIT-based storyline and joined the Champions, a hero collective of younger heroes including Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and Cyclops.
In 2020, “Ironheart” was set for another comic run but after only a couple of issues, it was canceled due to the pandemic. However, Riri was united with Shuri, Okoye, and others in a fight against Ten Rings, a seemingly perfect connection to tie Riri into the MCU.
How Will Ironheart Fit Into the MCU?
Riri and Shuri's comic connection is a great tie-in to the MCU. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Riri will still be a Chicago native, genius inventor, and engineering student who builds a Tony Stark-esque iron suit.
However, Riri will be 19, not 15, so she's typical college student age and more of a peer to Shuri. If you've seen any of the Wakanda Forever trailers, we see Riri working on her first suit build in her garage.
What we see in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will most assuredly tie into the Disney+ “Ironheart” series where we're sure to get more character development.
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