In a cool twist, Marvel’s Iron Man comic series will see Tony Starks’ character replaced with a black girl named Riri Williams.
According to Time, via an interview with Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis, Riri (hi, Rihanna) is a brilliant 15-year-old MIT prodigy who “comes to the attention of Tony when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm.” Leading to the shift, there’s a (perhaps cliché) turn of events that Bendis says was inspired by his time in Chicago. “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,” he tells Time. “I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard.”
Other non-white male characters introduced to the Marvel universe have gotten pushback from comic fans who want even a fantasy world to resemble their little bubbles. Riri will face the same. “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,” says Bendis. “But increasingly we see less and less of that. Once Miles hit, and Kamala Khan hit and female Thor hit—there was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it’s here, you’ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love.”
Then there’s this point, which @BlackGirlNerds makes, that it would’ve been great if Marvel went a step further and had a black woman writer involved for the Riri-centered series.