You might not have heard of Riri Williams, a newly introduced minor character in Marvel's lore. But soon Ms. Williams will be getting her own shot at costumed crusading when she takes on the mantle of Iron Man, filling in where an aging Tony Stark left off.
The events come at the end of Marvel's Civil War II storyline, in which Iron Man will step down from his position as a super-powered world protector and hand off the responsibilities to someone a bit younger. Little is known about the new character but TIME reports that she "is a science genius who enrolls in MIT at the age of 15. She comes to the attention of Tony when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm."
Unsurprisingly (because racism) the reactions to the new character have not been 100% positive. Marvel legend Brian Michael Bendis (a critically acclaimed writer and artist in the comics world) is standing behind the company's creative decision, saying, "[W]hen you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood ... I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound ... 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."
On the increasing diversity of The Avengers, Bendis added: "Talking to any of the older creators, it’s the thing they said they wish they’d done more of—reflecting the world around them. It just wasn’t where the world was at at that time. Now, when you have a young woman come up to you at a signing and say how happy she is to be represented in his universe, you know you’re moving in the right direction."
Elsewhere, Bendis revealed a few details on Riri specifically: "We don’t even know her backstory or her family situation or anything like that. We do know that she’s probably smarter than Tony, which is a lot of fun to write in a book starring the man who is always smarter than everybody in the room. Or thinks he is."