Iron Man’s successor is no Iron Maiden.
Last month, fans of Marvel comics were introduced to Riri Williams, a young, black, female scientist to pick up the mantle left open by Tony Stark. We also received a first look at the character and her new mecha suit, but Invincible Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis revealed her hero persona to be Ironheart.
Explaining the choice to Wired, he said the name was decided upon through a group consultation with the editors:
Iron Woman seemed old fashioned to some. Iron Maiden looked like a legal nightmare. And Ironheart, coined by [Marvel CCO] Joe Quesada, after I told him my planned story for Riri, speaks not only to the soul of the character but to the Iron Man franchise as a whole. Tony first put on the armor to save his heart. Riri puts it on for different reasons altogether but still heart-related. When people see her story, you’ll be amazed at how simple and brilliant Joe’s suggestion was.
In addition to the new name, Marvel released a batch of new STEAM variant covers for some of its comics, including Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Spider-Man, and Gwenpool. The one for Invincible Iron Man by artist Mike McKone shows Riri working on her Ironheart suit.
The appointment of Riri to Ironheart status is a reflection of Marvel’s continuing efforts to bring more diversity to their offerings. Even beyond the realm of the page, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is featuring Black Panther with its predominantly black cast, including Chadwick Boseman; female heroes in title roles with Ant-Man and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and (according to a report) and race-swapped Mary Jane for Spider-Man: Homecoming (Zendaya).
Brace yourselves, Internet trolls. It’s a new world of inclusion.