‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’: Riri Williams’ backstory explained

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand its roster of next-gen heroes.

In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, out Friday, someone new will assume the mantle of Black Panther following the death of Wakanda’s king, T’Challa. There has been much speculation about the identity of the mysterious woman behind the mask, but we won’t go into those details in this spoiler-free post.

The Black Panther sequel, directed by Ryan Coogler, also introduces a few new faces to the MCU, including Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, who will star in her own Disney+ series Ironheart, which premieres sometime next year .

Riri is a fairly new character, especially when compared to Tenoch Huerta’s Namor, whose comic history dates back to 1939. Making her debut in a 2016 issue of Invincible Iron Man, Riri quickly became a fan favorite, especially after taking on the role of the comic book series’ main character.

Here’s everything you need to know about Riri Williams:

A comic book cover featuring a woman in workout clothes holding a superhero helmet and standing in front of a man in a suit

The cover of Invincible Iron Man #1 (2016) by Jeff Dekal.


Who is Riri Williams?

Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, Riri Williams made her comic book debut on the last page of “Invincible Iron Man” #7 (2016), where she tinkers with her own high-tech armor in her dorm room at MIT. The 15-year-old super genius from Chicago is introduced in more detail a few issues later when it is revealed that the grantee “borrowed” from around campus what she needed to build her own Iron Man armor.

After taking her suit – replicated from an official Iron Man suit – on a test run to stop some criminals, she catches the attention of Tony Stark. Shortly after Riri’s comic book debut, it was announced that she would be taking on the role of the “new Iron Man” in a 2016 reboot of the Invincible Iron Man series (co-written by Bendis and Stefano Caselli).

More of Riri’s backstory will be revealed in her Invincible Iron Man run, such as how her best friend and stepdad were killed in a shootout at a park when she was younger.

Riri, introduced in Wakanda Forever, is a little older but still a teenage super genius.

How did she become Ironheart?

Shortly after Tony and Riri first meet, a major comic book event decommissions the original Iron Man. Riri thinks it’s up to her to bridge the gap and act as the new Iron Man before she even comes up with a superhero name. (She understandably didn’t want to get stuck on “Iron Girl,” “Iron Woman,” or “Iron Maiden.”)

But because Tony Stark is Tony Stark, he had prepared a digitized version of his consciousness to be sent to Riri to help her navigate her way as the new superhero and act as the AI ​​for her armor. This AI even helps her come up with the name Ironheart.

Riri’s path to becoming Ironheart may be different in the MCU, but Tony’s absence makes it a good time for her to become a superhero.

Comic cover of a woman in a chair touching high-tech armor

“Invincible Iron Man” #1 STEAM variant cover by Mike McKone.


What other characters has Riri interacted with?

Early in her tenure as Ironheart, Riri meets Pepper Potts, aka Rescue, who wants to make sure Riri knows what she’s getting into by embracing the superhero lifestyle.

She was also recruited to join a team of young superheroes known as the Champions. The team’s roster has included such well-known characters as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales/Spider-Man and other next-gen characters like a newer, younger Hulk, and even Vision’s daughter.

Riri even visited Wakanda in a story where she worked with Shuri, Okoye, and others to defeat the Ten Rings. (It’s not spoilers to say that the Ten Rings aren’t present in Wakanda Forever.)

What do we know about the Ironheart series?

Little! Ironheart will be set after the events of Wakanda Forever. Alongside Thorne, the series stars Anthony Ramos as Parker Robbins, also known as The Hood.

The cast of the six-episode series also reportedly includes Lyric Ross, Alden Ehrenreich, Zoe Terakes, Manny Montana and Shea Couleé.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-11-10/black-panther-wakanda-forever-riri-williams-ironheart-marvel-backstory ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’: Riri Williams’ backstory explained

Sarah Ridley

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