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Marvel's Ironheart: Everything You Need To Know About Riri Williams Before Her Disney+ Show

Now seems like the perfect time to introduce Marvel’s Ironheart character into the MCU, seeing as how the shared universe’s most famous armored superhero is no longer with us. To be clear, though, anyone assuming that Riri Williams is simply going to be the new Iron Man is sorely mistaken.

In fact, both Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr., and Spider-Man actor Tom Holland have been pulling for the young heroine to finally receive an official induction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon since last year. Yet, upon the recent announcement of a live action Ironheart TV show coming exclusively to Disney+, with If Beale Street Could Talk Star Dominique Thorne in the title role, I suppose that the comic book movie veterans can call that a mission accomplished. It should be mentioned, however, that Riri Williams is still a relatively new character to the comics and, for more casual Marvel fans who only look to the movies for their superhero fix, the news of this upcoming series may be the first time they have ever heard of Ironheart.

Well, in the hope of preventing anyone from mistaking the Disney+ original with a 1992 kung fu movie of the same name, I have compiled a collection of details that every interested party should know about Riri Williams, such as the time she had a nearly fatal run-in with Thanos in 2018. Of course, I would not bet on that as anything to be concerned about seeing in Ironheart, but there is plenty more to be excited about what this fascinating character could bring to the MCU, based on the following six facts I found, which start at the very beginning of her story.

Riri Williams working on her Ironheart armor

Riri Williams Is A Super Intelligent Teenage Tech Prodigy

Created by acclaimed comic book writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato, Riri Williams first appeared in a 2016 issue of Invincible Iron Man and officially debuted as Ironheart the following year. Flashbacks show how, at 5 years old, her mother, Ronnie, and stepfather, Gary, sought a psychological evaluation to solve her behavioral problems which revealed she was really an astoundingly gifted genius frustrated by a life that lacked much to challenge her abilities. This led Riri to become an introvert dedicated to inventing, eventually earning a full ride to MIT at 10. There are some more relatable elements to her character, however, such as a love for hip-hop, admiration for the astronaut Mae Jemison, occasional cosplay as Star Trek’s LeVar Burton, and a violent act that set her on the path to heroism.

Natalie Washington, Gary, and Riri Williams try to outrun a drive-by shooting

Tragedy Inspired Riri Williams To Become A Superhero

By the time she turned 13, Riri had finally found a friend in a girl her age named Natalie Washington, until a random drive-by shooting would claim the lives of both Natalie and Riri’s stepfather, Gary, while the three of them were enjoying a picnic. Having born witness to the murder first hand, yet coming out unscathed, she would become haunted by the event and the question of why she survived. It was then when she started to see the world from the point of view of its costumed vigilantes and sought to be one of them. Yet, we would eventually discover that the origins of her becoming Ironheart truly began much earlier.

Iron Man saves Riri Williams and her stepfather, Gary

Riri Williams Actually Met Iron Man Years Before Becoming Ironheart

It should come as no big surprise that Tony Stark does play a large role in Riri Williams’ superhero evolution, including paying the teenage prodigy a visit after catching wind of her homemade prototype armor and later in some more unique ways that we will touch upon soon. Yet, a flashback to Marvel’s Secret Invasion arc revealed that their first run-in occurred when she was much younger. After Iron Man rescued her and her stepfather, little Riri noticed a glitch in his boot, which she would later figure out how to fix on her own. While she never actually made the repair (which Stark probably managed himself anyway), you could say that Stark would return the favor by helping her improve the design of her own armor, but not in the sense that you might expect.

Tony Stark's A.I. copy

Riri Williams Was Trained By An A.I. Copy Of Tony Stark

Not long after completing her first armor model, which she built using parts she stolen from MIT, Riri Williams was offered the assistance of an out-of-commission Tony Stark, but in the form of a digital copy of himself that would help train her, help guide her on missions, and even give her the name Ironheart. To anyone still mourning the events of Avengers: Endgame, this may sound like a perfect opportunity to bring Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man back into the MCU posthumously, but to me, it sounds like a threat to what has been a mostly unblemished record of continuity maintenance in the shared universe. However, Riri would later create an A.I. modeled after her late friend Natalie, who sounds like a more natural fit as the Disney+ series’ resident J.A.R.V.I.S., if you will.

Ironheart fighting Doctor Doom clones

Riri Williams Became The Ruler Of Latveria For A Brief Period

Riri Williams’ story often borrows from real-world sociopolitical themes, such as the character’s consumption of both left-wing and right-wing centred media to keep tabs on what propaganda may come from either side. This well-rounded political perspective likely inspired her reaction to being declared queen of the fictional country that Doctor Doom calls home, Latveria. After defeating a native terrorist, per S.H.I.E.L.D.’s request, and being made the monarchical leader, she negotiated a truce between the country and the defense organization before renouncing her throne, and paving the way for Latveria to become a democracy. Not only would this be an interesting topic for Marvel to touch on in Ironheart, it is more likely to happen now with the announcement of the long-awaited MCU reboot of the Fantastic Four, whose top enemy is Doctor Doom.

Ironheart with the Champions

Ironheart Is A Member Of The Champions

The Ironheart series could also be a jumping off point for a team known as the Champions (otherwise referred to as the “Baby Avengers” by their elders) to join the MCU. During the Secret Empire storyline, Riri Williams joined the group, whose founding members include Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, the latter serving as team leader. Khan is also joining the shared universe in her own Disney+ exclusive series Ms. Marvel, starring newcomer Iman Vellani, in 2021. Hailee Steinfeld as Clint Barton’s successor Kate Bishop is in the new Hawkeye show, and Kathryn Newton is filling the role of Cassie Lang, who would go on to become Ant-Girl, in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. All this being said, are all these young heroes (minus Morales, probably) destined to come together as the new Champions for the MCU? Time will only tell.

What do you think? Are you excited to see what Riri Williams will bring to the MCU, or are you one of those fans who still criticize the character for stealing the Iron Man title from Tony Stark? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the upcoming Ironheart series, as well as even more insight into your favorite comic book characters, here on CinemaBlend.

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.