A Black Female Teen Is Comics’ New Iron Man

The new face behind the mask. Photo: Stefano Caselli/Marvel Entertainment

In the pages of superhero funnybooks, the faces of the Marvel pantheon have been changing dramatically. First, we got an Afro-Latino Spider-Man in 2011; then came a female Thor and a black Captain America in 2014; most recently, we've seen an Asian-American Hulk. Later this year, readers will see a black teenage girl assume the chrome mantle of Iron Man. In an exclusive interview with Time, veteran comics scribe — and current writer of two Iron Man monthly series — Brian Michael Bendis announced that 15-year-old Riri Williams will take over for Tony Stark in a few months.

If you've never heard of Riri, you're not crazy — even most comics geeks haven't. She only just made her first appearance in one of the aforementioned Bendis titles, Invincible Iron Man, in March. She's a prodigious MIT student who crafted her own version of Tony's armor technology, but other than that, we know very little about her. Tony is in the midst of a big crossover event called Civil War II (a spiritual sequel to the decade-old Civil War event that sort of inspired Captain America: Civil War ... look, superhero fiction is complicated), so Riri's ascent could be the result of Tony's death (which wouldn't be permanent, obviously; this is comics we're talking about) or retirement.

In the case of all the above identity shifts, the original white-dude versions of the characters are still hanging out in the Marvel Universe, often using their old super-titles alongside their successors. So maybe that'll end up happening? It's also unclear whether she'll still be, y'know, Iron Man, or whether a new moniker is in order. We know oh so little, but this being geekdom, it's time for everyone to get excited, get mad, wildly speculate, and argue with one another!