Yesterday, Marvel proved that they are very much committed to the idea of adding diversity to their comics, and that they aren't afraid to ruffle a few feathers in the process. The comic book publisher revealed that following the events of Civil War II, the new Iron Man will be a 15-year-old, African-American girl named Riri Williams. This most definitely came as a shock to many, and the reception has been mixed from fans. The next question, though, is: Will Riri take over for Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
There are plenty of people who don't at all seem to like the idea of making such a dramatic change to the character of Iron Man, but a very important someone seems to think it is pretty great. Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man for most people around the world, and he recently took to Twitter to declare his very positive feelings about this new development. Here is what he had to say.
"Get ready for a new generation of Marvel BAMF..."
Downey decided to accompany his Tweet with the cover art for the first issue of the new Invincible Iron Man series, which prominently features Riri up front, with Tony Stark looking dapper as ever in the background. Iron Man has nearly 50 years of history in Marvel Comics and is the character that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it is understandable that fans have an attachment to the classic version of the character. But it probably helps to ease the minds of many fans to have the endorsement of the man who essentially is Iron Man.
The news of the shakeup was first revealed Yesterday via an interview Time did with comic book master Brian Michael Bendis, who came up with the idea and created the character of Riri Williams with artist Stefano Caselli. Bendis revealed that Tony Stark discovers Riri after she enrolls at MIT at the age of 15, and then proceeds to build a replica Iron Man armor in her dorm room. He also gave a very in-depth look into what inspired him to create the character.
"One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn't end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life-just random street violence-and went off to college was very inspiring to me. 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. As we've been slowly and hopefully very organically adding all these new characters to the Marvel Universe, it just seemed that sort of violence inspiring a young hero to rise up and act, and using her science acumen, her natural born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where even Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me."
This is far from the first time in recent history that Marvel has proven that they are perfectly happy to feature diverse superheroes very prominently in the comic books. Last year the publisher shook things up in a big way by making Jane Foster the new Thor, giving a woman the mantle that was traditionally held by a large, muscular white God of a man. Bendis also introduced the character of Miles Morales several years ago, who is a half black, half hispanic kid from New York who takes up the mantle of Spider-Man following Peter Parker's death.
There are very few indications as to how this new character is going to affect the Marvel Universe as a whole, or if it will have any effect on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is no specific release date set for the new Invincible Iron Man book yet, but Marvel has said it is due for a release in the fall sometime. Be sure to check out Robert Downey Jr.'s tweet for yourself below.