Movies

Who Is Ironheart? How ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Introduces Riri Williams

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever faces a tall task in continuing the story of the Black Panther mantle while dealing with the heartbreaking loss of star Chadwick Boseman. But in addition to finding heroic hope in the midst of tragedy, director Ryan Coogler also took on another meaningful creative moment in his sequel: introducing some important new characters to the MCU.

Apart from new antagonist Namor the Sub-Mariner, Wakanda Forever also introduces audiences to Riri Williams, aka Ironheart, a long-anticipated character and important addition for the future of several Marvel franchises.

In the comics — where she was first introduced during the Invincible Iron Man run in 2018 — Riri is a brilliant teenager from Chicago, studying engineering at MIT following the tragic death of her father. Inspired by Tony Stark, she creates her own suit of armor using materials stolen from the campus labs and takes up her own heroic mantle, coming face to face with heroes and villains from throughout the MCU.

Judas and the Black Messiah star Dominique Thorne is donning the super suit in Wakanda Forever, where the character will be introduced before spinning off into her own Disney+ series, due out late next year. And while it remains to be seen exactly how Riri/Ironheart will fit into the fabric of the MCU’s Phase 5 and 6, the comic canon provides multiple possible storylines for the new hero.

In Eve Ewing’s Ironheart: Meant to Fly run from 2018, the character helps track down missing Spider-Man Miles Morales, while also facing off against the shadowy Ten Rings organization, which MCU fans will remember from the first Shang-Chi film. She’s also encountered Doctor Strange and The Wasp and fought against villains like Baron Zemo, Armadillo and Blackheart within comic storylines, leaving plenty of potential for team-ups in the future.

Ironheart
Marvel Studios

The Black Panther cast kept mum about any specifics surrounding Ironheart during their Wakanda Forever press tour, however, star Letitia Wright did take a moment to celebrate the introduction of the character at the New York City premiere.

“Black women are being empowered,” she shared. “Black women are being celebrated, for all their beauty, for their intelligence and all that they are. November 11, big things.” 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now. Ironheart is set to debut on Disney+ in late 2023.

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