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Black Panther 2 Will Introduce A New Marvel Hero, And The Choice Is A+

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Because Marvel Studios decided not to recast T’Challa following Chadwick Boseman’s passing, someone else will take over the Black Panther mantle for next year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. However, they won’t be the only new superhero to shine in the sequel. It turns out that Black Panther 2 will also feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut of Riri Williams, a.k.a. Ironheart.

It was announced last year that Ironheart will star in her own Disney+ series, with Dominque Thorne being cast as Riri Williams. But before that show hits the Mouse House’s streaming service, we’ll meet Riri during the events of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige informed Comicbook.com:

We're shooting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, right now, and the character of Riri Williams, you will meet in Black Panther 2 first. She started shooting, I think, this week before her Ironheart series.

Much like how T’Challa debuted in Captain America: Civil War a little under two year before the Black Panther movie came out, we’ll be meeting Riri Williams on the big screen before the spotlight is pointed on her in Disney+’s Ironheart. Kevin Feige didn’t share any details about how specifically Riri fits into Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s story, including whether she’ll actually suit up as Ironheart. It’s possible we’ll simply see her as a civilian in the Phase 4 movie, and her superhero origin story will be saved for her TV series.

Riri Williams next to Ironheart armor

Introduced to the comics in 2016’s Invincible Iron Man #7, Riri Williams is a teenaged genius who built her own Iron Man-like suit of armor while attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This caught Tony Stark’s attention and he endorsed Riri’s decision to become a superhero, and a copy of his consciousness even served as the A.I. for the Ironheart armor for a time. Riri has also been a member of the Champions, and outside of the comics, the character has appeared in the animated special Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron and the animated series Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever would shoot at MIT, and now that know Riri Williams is appearing in the sequel, this filming location makes sense. To be clear, Kevin Feige didn’t outright say that Dominique Thorne’s Black Panther 2 scenes would be set at MIT, but it’s reasonable to assume that she’s enrolled there like her comic book counterpart. No doubt Riri will cross paths with one or more of the sequel’s Wakandan characters there; I imagine she and Shuri would get into some especially stimulating conversation given their respective scientific prowess.

Along with the newly-revealed Dominique Thorne and Leitita Wright reprising Shuri (who may end up taking over as Black Panther, if the comics are any indication), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will see the return of Danai Gurira as Okoye, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Angela Bassett as Ramonda and Martin Freeman as Everett Ross. Michaela Cole and Tenoch Huerta have also reportedly been cast in undisclosed roles, although it’s been rumored that the latter will play Namor the Sub-Mariner. Ryan Coogler returned to direct Black Panther 2 and also co-wrote the script with Joe Robert Cole.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is slated to arrive on July 8, 2022, and while Ironheart doesn’t have a premiere date set for Disney+ yet (use this link to sign up for the streaming service), as Kevin Feige noted, the series is about to begin filming. Keep track of what else the MCU has coming up with our guides detailing upcoming Marvel movies and Marvel TV shows.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.