BY ADEDIWURA OKELEYE
Marvel has announced a huge change to one of their major comic book characters, Iron Man.
Riri Williams, a 15-year-old black girl will be wearing the Iron Man suit instead of Tony Stark. Riri is a Chicago-born science genius studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology that grabbed the attention of Tony Stark when she built her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room.
This is another move by Marvel towards gender and ethnic diversity in their comics. In 2014 they announced a female Thor and later a black Captain America.
The writer of Iron Man, Brian Micheal Bendis said in an exclusive interview with TIME that amount of chaos and violence in Chicago and the bravery of a young woman who was marred by tragedy but refused to give up inspired the female character.
In his words, “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.”
When he was asked about the reception that the change has received, he said, “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.”
The next question now is who will play Riri when the change is effected in the movies. We’re thinking Quvenzhané Wallis from Annie or Zendaya. Lupita might be a bit too old for the role. Wait a minute! Is that the role Lupita is playing in the Black Panther movie?!