Marvel Comics has done a wondrous job with diversifying their comic line; incorporating Miles Morales into the mainstream 616 universe, introducing Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel and making Jane Foster Thor just to name a few. But feathers were a little ruffled when it was announced that the new Iron Man would actually be a teenage African American girl.
Until now, it was believed that Riri Williams would go by the codename Iron Man, wearing a suit of armor that obscured her gender.
It wouldn’t be unheard of. For decades, the general population did not know that Tony Stark was the armor-plated Avenger. Instead, they believed that Iron Man was Stark’s bodyguard. When James Rhodes (who later became War Machine) assumed the Iron Man identity in the 80s, it caused some confusion in the superhero community.
But now comes word that Riri will not go by the moniker Iron Man, as previously believed. Instead, she will be known as Ironheart!
Writer Brian Michael Bendis spoke on the topic, saying:
“Iron Woman seemed old fashioned to some. Iron Maiden looked like a legal nightmare. And Ironheart, coined by 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.”
As for accusations of PC-pandering, Bendis stated:
“We never had a meeting saying, ‘We need to create this character.’ It’s inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture.”
As a bonus, check out the covers to Ironheart’s first issue:
The suit is still gender neutral. (In other words, there are no Iron Boobs.) And editor Tom Breevort assured that while Tony Stark won’t be the star of the book, he will remain a large part of the narrative.
“Regardless of where he might be physically, he’ll be soaring along with her spiritually.”
What do you think of the name Ironheart? Are you interested in this next-gen Marvel hero?