Marvel’s new Iron Man is a 15-year-old black girl, Time Magazine reports.
Character Riri Williams is expected to make her comic book debut at the end of the “Civil War II” series when Tony Stark steps out of the red and gold suit and hand the reigns over to Williams.
Williams, a science buff attending MIT, captures the attention of Stark when she builds an Iron Man suit in her dormitory.
In an interview with Time on July 5, Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis delved into the inspiration behind the character. According to Bendis, it was during his time working on a T.V. show in Chicago that inspired him to give birth to the character of Williams. The story was about a young black woman who defied her violent circumstances to attend 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 awhile until I had the right character and the right place,” said Bendis. “It’s inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture.”
The character change will be different for viewers who are familiar with the franchise, originated in the 1960s. Some fans are receptive to the changes occurring in the comic series. Others aren’t, which Bendis understand given its history.
“There are fans who say, ‘Show us the new stuff,’ and then there are fans who say, ‘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,” Bendis said.
Bendis has contributed to the diversity of characters before, including Miles Morales who is of black and Hispanic descent and Jessica Jones, a superheroine. The change is reflective of today, which Bendis acknowledges.
“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,” Bendis said.