“Not your grandfather’s Iron Man” is how the newly announced next iteration of Iron Man is being dubbed online.
In a surprising move from Marvel, whose primary line up traditionally lacks diversity in gender and race, a young black woman has been introduced as the next iteration of Iron Man. Riri Williams is a 15 year old who has genius intellect and is studying Engineering at MIT on scholarship. She comes to Tony Stark’s attention when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm.
The announcement is being generally well received online, but critics are quick to point out that even though a black woman filling the role of a major Marvel character is a step in the right direction the character is not actually being written by young black women, which seems like a wasted opportunity.
Some fans worry this will mean Riri lacks an authentic voice, but the writer of the new Invincible Iron Man, Brian Michael Bendis, has been consistently one of the strongest voices in the comic book industry recently and has been using his position to diversify comic-book universes.
Bendis says that the idea came to him when he was working on a cancelled television show that featured a brilliant, young girl whose life is marred by tragedy but still manages to make it to college. “I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard. And I sat with it for a while until I had the right character and the right place.”
Bendis explains that the move to include this character wasn’t so much a planned move as it was an organic one. “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.”
Maybe it’s time for a name change, too?
— Richard (@TeemalGames) July 6, 2016