Decoding the MCU’s “new Iron Man” identity

The departure of Tony Stark/Iron Man in Avengers: Endgame (2019) has left a huge void in the Marvel cinematic universe (MCU). For nearly 4 years, Marvel Studios has been constantly searching for the most worthy replacement for this superhero. And until now, when the blockbuster Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released, they had the most convincing answer: It was Riri Williams/Iron Heart, played by Dominique Thorne.

Riri Williams has officially made her debut in the MCU in the blockbuster Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Photo: Marvel Studios.

More than just a cameo role or just a “pave the way” for future MCU projects, Dominique Thorne plays a particularly important role for the script of the Black Panther sequel. Right in the pitch to Marvel fans, her character left a deep impression when she invented the first device in history capable of detecting the rare metal vibranium.

Not only that, Riri Williams also continues to create high-tech armor to support herself in combat – a familiar detail but has been absent from the big screen of Marvel Studios for many years. Riri’s genius mind and extensive knowledge make her the perfect replacement for Iron Man, similar to the original Marvel comics.

Origins of Riri Williams

Decoding the MCU s new Iron Man identity | Living

Riri Williams once shouldered the role that Iron Man left in Marvel comics – Photo: Marvel Comics.

In the comics, Riri Williams was originally a super prodigy and soon showed many genius, even monstrous qualities. However, it is also because of her high intelligence that she shrinks herself and becomes a taciturn person, afraid to communicate. Throughout her childhood, Riri was always immersed in technology, in her own inventions, with the dream of one day being able to help other superheroes.

Riri’s genius mind and vast knowledge of technology helped her become a student at the prestigious MIT university at the age of 15. But during her time here, she stole a lot of school resources to create her first armor, which was based on Iron Man’s long outdated Model 41 armor.

After being discovered by the school, Riri decided to put on her newly made armor and leave. In the process of getting used to her new ability to fly, she suddenly encounters a group of prisoners who have just escaped from the New Mexico State Prison. In a moment of excitement, she decided to try playing the role of a superhero, taking action to eliminate the violence. Even so, despite successfully stopping the enemy, in exchange, Riri’s armor also melted into smoke.

Decoding the MCU s new Iron Man identity | Living

Riri Williams’ first armor was built with inspiration from Tony Stark’s armor – Photo: Marvel Comics.

However, when one door closes, another opens and welcomes her to better things. Impressed with what Riri has done, Tony Stark actively contacted her and expressed his support for the superhero dream that Riri is pursuing. She even became an effective assistant to Tony in the second superhero civil war, when the multi-talented billionaire confronted Captain Marvel.

At the end of this fight, Tony fell into a deep coma, and no one was sure if he would ever wake up. Riri decided to take over the legacy left by her mentor. With the help of a Stark AI program, she created a more advanced armor, also taking on the nickname Ironheart and becoming a temporary replacement for Iron Man.

Throughout her superhero career, Riri Williams has defeated many fierce villains, including Techno Golem and Biohack Ninja. In addition, Riri was also trained by SHIELD, joined the superhero team Champions, and assisted Wakanda in the fight against N’Jadaka/Eric Killmonger.

Ironheart’s Power

Decoding the MCU s new Iron Man identity | Living

Similar to Tony Stark, the most powerful weapon that Riri Williams possesses is her genius mind – Photo: Marvel Studios.

Considered the truest heir of Tony Stark, Riri Williams’ strength lies not in her monstrous superpowers, but in her genius mind. Although she is just an ordinary human being, Riri’s inventions, especially high-class iron armor, enable her to fight “on par” with even the most feared villains.

Similar to Iron Man, when wearing armor, Riri can freely fly easily at high speed, and also release energy beams with great destructive power from her hands to attack enemies. In addition, she often uses abilities related to magnetic fields to hold opponents in invisible energy bubbles.

As mentioned above, Riri was once confirmed as a super prodigy when she was only 5 years old. In the process of growing up, she gradually accumulated superior manufacturing skills, knowledge of the most advanced science and technology. In short, Riri is a copy of Tony Stark, but much younger and more creative.

Differences between MCU’s Ironheart and the original

Decoding the MCU s new Iron Man identity | Living

Marvel Studios has made some small changes when bringing Riri Williams to the big screen – Photo: Marvel Studios.

Stepping onto the big screen, the story of Riri Williams has changed quite a bit compared to the comic version, although the essence is still the same. Because of participating in a Black Panther project, most of the information about Riri’s background is not exploited too deeply. All the audience knows is that the US government used her invention of the vibranium detector to exploit the resources of the Talokan people.

That really made Namor angry and tried to take Riri’s life. However, Shuri stood up for her and sparked a war between Wakanda and Talokan. Once again, Riri is caught up in the war between supernatural forces, similar to how she participated in the second superhero civil war in the original comics. Marvel Studios replaced Tony Stark with Shuri and Queen Ramonda in Riri’s story, and thereby officially brought Ironheart into its cinematic universe.

Besides, it is likely that Riri’s background will still stick very closely to the original, because she mentioned her stepfather and her father’s death in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The biggest difference so far is probably that the MCU’s Riri is 19 years old, not a 15-year-old “girl” when creating the first armor.

Will Riri Williams be able to shoulder the role of Iron Man left?

Decoding the MCU s new Iron Man identity | Living

Until now, Riri Williams is the most perfect successor of Iron Man in the MCU – Photo: Marvel Studios.

Riri Williams and Tony Stark are two of the smartest characters in the MCU to date. However, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever shows that Riri seems to be a bit better than her predecessor. Proof that just one of her school assignments caught the eye of the US government.

Not only that, but Shuri, who was once confirmed by the Marvel Studios screenwriter team to be smarter than Tony Stark, also had to “stand still” in front of Riri’s genius brain when the two met in her dorm room. . Remember that this 19-year-old student built the world’s first vibranium detector without anyone else’s help. Even when first approaching Wakanda’s technology, Riri was not overwhelmed and quickly created her own armor.

However, the lack of experience probably made Riri’s product not comparable to Tony Stark’s armor. During the battle with the Talokan, she faced many difficulties even when facing only one opponent. Meanwhile, Iron Man fought the alien Chitauri army, Ultron’s robots, and Thanos’ army.

Decoding the MCU s new Iron Man identity | Living

Riri Williams possesses all the qualities to become the new Iron Man of the MCU – Photo: Marvel Studios.

Summarizing the above factors, it can be seen that Riri Williams can completely shoulder the role of Iron Man in the MCU. What is needed most for her right now is a teacher with a heart and a vision, and a generous investor to help her perfect and enhance her inventions. Shuri and Wakanda are currently the best candidates for that position.

Marvel fans will also get to see Riri Williams again in the Ironheart TV series, scheduled to air in the fall of 2023 on Disney+. Dominique Thorne will reprise the role, alongside Anthony Ramos as the villain Hood.


Marvel, ScreenRant

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