In case you missed the big news out of the world of Marvel Comics this week, Tony Stark will no longer be the face behind the metallic face of Iron Man. This step down comes as part of Marvel’s “Civil War II” storyline, a game-changer as far as the status quo of the current Marvel Universe in the comics goes. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is one of the architects of this arc, which occurs as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch that includes Michael Bendis’ new series, “Invincible Iron Man.” It’s in this series that Stark will have given up the suit while Riri Williams – a 15-year-old Black woman and genius MIT student – takes over.
While Robert Downey Jr. has come to represent the living embodiment of Tony Stark for many comic and movie fans alike, this paradigm shift in the world of comics may one day (likely far, far down the line) have repercussions on the cinematic universe, too. So despite the fact that the reveal of Williams as the new “Invincible Iron Man” has caused divisive reactions, RDJ is fully embracing the change.
Here’s Downey Jr.’s tweet:
Get ready for a new generation of Marvel BAMF… pic.twitter.com/nMChfQkh0n
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) July 7, 2016
If you haven’t been keeping up with the relatively recent “Civil War II” storyline, Williams was actually introduced in a subplot from “Invincible Iron Man #6” in which she noisily cobbles together a prototype power-suit that she reverse-engineered. Williams could have been written off as a sidekick or a replacement for other characters killed in the conflict, but clearly the plans were for her to take on the title role in earnest. She’s already gotten in on the superheroic action, as revealed in recent issues:
In a chat with Time, Michael Bendis talked at length about the changes to the Marvel Universe present in the “Civil War II’ storyline, what that means for Stark, and how Williams will take on the mantle of Invincible Iron Man. There’s a lot of great stuff in the interview for those of you who are caught up on the comics storyline, but as for Williams’ creation, he said:
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.
Michael Bendis is also the mind behind new characters like Miles Morales, and new takes on Jessica Jones, and Maria Hill, so he has some experience with adding diversity to Marvel’s slate while shouldering his share of controversy and angry fans. We’ll see how Williams is received when “Invincible Iron Man” #1 debuts this fall.
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