Tony Stark is stepping down as Iron Man and will be replaced by a young black girl named Riri Williams at the end of the comic book event series Civil War II.
According to Time, "Riri is a science genius who enrolls in MIT at the age of 15. She comes to the attention of Tony when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm."
The character was inspired by the story about a woman in Chicago from years ago when creator and Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis was working on a failed TV show.
"And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life--just random street violence--and went off to college was very inspiring to me," Bendis told Time. "I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard. And I sat with it for awhile until I had the right character and the right place."
Bendis claims that some of the most die-hard fans have been willing to at least give the casting shake-up a shot, thanks to his involvement with other diverse heroes such as Miles Morales (aka black Spider-Man) and Jessica Jones. He admits, though, that while there are still some bizarrely racist comments out there over Marvel's increasingly diverse roster of characters, that's changing.
"There was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation," he said, "and now that it's here, you'll go online and be greeted with this wave of love."
And from what it sounds like, Iron Man is in good hands with Riri. "Her brain is maybe a little better than his [Tony's]," Bendis adds. "She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique. He can't help but go maybe I should buy her out."
Sounds about right.