Marvel Comics Introduces 15-Year-Old Black Girl as Iron Man

Over the past three years Marvel Comics has been undergoing efforts to diversify its comic books

Tony Stark is shedding his Iron Man suit and stepping in his role is new character RiRi Williams, a black 15-year-old science genius, Time reported.

According to the magazine's interview with Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, the end of the comic book event series "Civil War II" will usher in a new Iron Man, but this time the robotic armor will be controlled by a girl.

Williams, a young genius who enrolls in MIT at age 15, garners Stark's attention when she reverse engineers her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room.

Over the past three years Marvel Comics has been undergoing efforts to diversify its comic books. Though the company has made diversity a conscious effort, Bendis told Time that adding Williams, and other female characters, has been an organic process inspired by the world around him.

"I think what’s most important is that the character is created in an organic setting," Bendis said. "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."

Though Bendis did not reveal why Stark decided to hang up his Iron Man suit, he did provide insight into the character's way of thinking.

"We’re in the middle of a very big Tony Stark storyline—actually three storylines converging," Bendis said. "His best friend died, his company is collapsing and he’s finding out who his biological parents were all at the same time. That’s stressful for a character who is wired the way Tony is wired and has dependency issues the way Tony does."

The new female character has garnered a lot of excitement from fans, though there is a subset of readers who have pushed back against Marvel's diversification efforts.

"There are fans who say, 'Show us the new stuff,' and then there are fans who say, 'Don’t do anything different from when I was a kid.' So when you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood," Bendis told Time.

This is not the first time Marvel has reintroduced a long-time favorite male superhero as female. In 2014 Marvel created a female Thor after she picked up the hammer when the old Thor could no longer wield his weapon.

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