Marvel’s New Iron Man Is a 15-Year-Old Black Woman

Riri Williams Iron Man Promo Art

After Civil War II winds up, Marvel is relaunching Invincible Iron Man as part of their Marvel NOW! line-up — only it won’t be Tony Stark in the suit this time. This time Iron Man won’t even be a man.

15-year-old genius Riri Williams was already introduced in the book as an certified genius who has made her own armor in her MIT dorm room. Now she will be stepping into some pretty big shoes as she assumes the role of Iron man.

Invincible Iron Man #9 - 1st Riri in armor
Invincible Iron Man #9 – 1st Riri in armor

Marvel has been diversifying their superheroes at a rapid pace over the past few years, introducing new characters like Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, and giving older characters new relevance and new roles like Sam Wilson as Captain America and Jane Foster as Thor.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis has already introduced Riri in the pages of Invincible Iron Man, and he talked to Time about how fans have responded to  the character so far.

“Thankfully because of my involvement in the creation of Miles Morales and Jessica Jones and some other characters, it’s getting the benefit of the doubt from even the most surly fans. 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,” he said.

But like with Miles Morales, Kamala Khan and the female Thor, Bendis is prepared for an ugly backlash from some fans that prefer the status quo.

“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. They’re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals. 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.”

Bendis cautions fans that they should not imagine that Riri taking over for Tony is a clue that gives away the ending of Civil War II, which shows Tony going head-to-head with Captain Marvel. ” I can tell you just because we’re hearing what we’re saying doesn’t know you mean how Civil War II ends. We’re not telling you the end, at all.”

Invincible Iron Man #1 will go on sale in the fall.