While I wasn’t crazy about Tony Stark’s very active role in the new Spider-Man movie, there was one aspect of the character which I liked and thought would be a tremendous role for him going forward. I would love to see a retired Tony Stark become the Avengers de-facto recruitment officer slash consultant for new would-be heroes, and he should start with Riri Williams aka Lionheart.
It’s already happened in the comics after the conclusion of the Civil War II storyline, so why not on the big screen? Imagine having Peter Parker and Tony Stark visit MIT either as themselves or their alter egos and run into Riri? A new younger more exciting Avengers squad is inevitable so why not plant the seeds now so that the transition is a smooth and exciting one?
They’ve already had Riri interact with Black Widow during her time with the Champions, themselves mostly younger ex-Avengers, so if the MCU is planning a phase 4, 5 and 6 it seems logical, in fact, entirely possible that she’ll show up at some point.
But just who is Riri Williams you ask? Well…
Riri Williams, created by Iron Man scribe Brian Michael Bendis, is a 15-year-old engineering student who started attending MIT on a scholarship. Working alone, she reverse engineers a crude suit of armor similar to Iron Man’s first suit using material stolen from around her campus. She was forced to leave campus however when campus security caught wind of her activities when they knock at her door, she dons the suit and escapes.
She is a highly skilled inventor and engineer and much like Tony Stark, reached genius-level intellect by the time she was 15 years old and has since surpassed him. Riri has tendencies which can be called heroic but also displays sociopathic tendencies, again, much like Stark.
Once Stark gets word of her accomplishments, he seeks her out to tell her that he will endorse her decision to become a superhero if thats the life she chooses for herself. He can’t just simply buy her out so becoming a mentor to her is the best way, he thinks, to keep a watchful eye on her progress.
Regarding this change Bendis has said about Tony:
He’s very aware that this young woman is flying by him in terms of how quickly she’s advancing and able to engineer the Iron Man suit. Her brain is maybe a little better than his at this point. She also looks at things from a different perspective than he does obviously and that makes for interesting points of view, in particular her armor is familiar but unique.
When we got out first peak at Ironheart’s new suit (above), it was refreshingly not over-sexualized and completely ambiguous, unlike many female superhero costumes are nowadays. In fact, the writer’s indicate that the design should give Williams an advantage when entering into combat.
In the comics, her first appearance was in Invincible Iron Man Vol 7 #7 written by Bendis and drawn by Mike Deodato. She would later assume the name Ironheart and star in the Vol 8 series of Invincible Iron Man in late 2016. The original goal was to have her replace Stark as Iron Man after the events of Civil War II in which Tony suffers through personal losses and financial hardships with the death of War Machine and Stark Enterprises going bankrupt.
When the announcement was first made by Marvel, it was met with a full range of fandom emotions. Many thought the decision to go with a black female was just paying lip service to the social justice warriors currently raising their fists on campuses across America. Of course, the answer to “why can’t it be a white male” is why can’t it be a black female? The proprietorship of this character lies with Marvel and Stan Lee and if they don’t have a problem with it then why should we? Still, Bendis understands and accepts the world we currently live in…
“Don’t do anything different from when I was a kid.” So when you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood.
And what does Mr. Tony Stark himself think of the switch? Robert Downey Jr. himself took to Twitter after Marvel made the announcement…
Get ready for a new generation of Marvel BAMF… pic.twitter.com/nMChfQkh0n
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) July 7, 2016
So, the times they are a changing and these current crop of Avengers aren’t getting any younger. They have to replace the hackneyed with the new, the old with the young, that’s the just cycle of life. The MCU has established enough credibility to last 100 years and they’re about to change the course of movie history, again, with the release of Avengers: Infinity War so now’s the time to dig deep.
Now the fun part begins, which lucky actor gets to play Ms. Williams?
Till next time…