Marvel has announced a new candidate who will step into Tony Stark's Iron Man suit after the billionaire retires at the end of the comic book series Civil War II.
Riri Williams is a Chicago born and bred genius who enrolls in MIT at the young age of 15. She comes under Stark's radar when she tries to build her own Iron Man suit in her dorm. The new avenger suits up in the upcoming issue Invincible Iron Man #1, which is a part of Marvel Now! The prodigal heroine is still working on a name for her Armoured Avenger.
But this leaves us wondering what happened to Tony Stark, what could have happened during Civil War II to make him want to quit trying to save the world?
Speaking to TIME magazine, writer and creator Brian Michael Bendis said that they were in the middle of a very big Tony Stark storyline.
“His best friend died, his company is collapsing and he’s finding out who his biological parents were all at the same time. How that all shakes out such that Tony is no longer in the armor? You’ll have to wait to find out for the end of Civil War II,” said Bendis. The comic book was first introduced in 1963 and Tony Stark has been one of the most popular Marvel superheroes ever since.
The introduction of a young black girl as a superhero is a part of Marvel's decision to diversify their superhero lineup. The good news is there are a few more characters that underwent gender swaps and changed their ethnicities.
The most talked is the introduction of a mixed race Spiderman, Miles Morales. Morales has a black father and a Puerto-Rican mother.
There was also the much hyped introduction of a female Thor, whose real identity had not been revealed to the audience till eight issues of the comic book came out.
Here's the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, whose origin story just came out a few weeks ago. Kamala was born to Pakistani parents in Bombay, who fled the city during the Indo-Pak partition of 1947.
Marvel Comics' Dust is an Afghan woman from the X-Men universe who has the power to manipulate sand and dust.
There's also DC Comics' Nightrunner, a 22-year-old Algerian Muslim who lives in Paris, France.
But this isn't the first time that comic book characters have switched genders or ethnicities. Back in 2003, Marvel put out a limited edition issue Truth: Red, White and Black which featured an African-American version of Steve Roger's Captain America.
However, this push for diversity is far from receiving a fair percent of representation in comic books. The racially diverse characters just seem to be of a novelty value, introduced in limited edition comic books for a short period of time. Women are also vastly misrepresented in comics, their characters being nothing more than cardboard cutouts of the femme-fatale stereotype. A Tumblr called The Hawkeye Inititative has fans recreate problematic comic-book depictions of women by swapping out the women with male superheroes.
Impetuous for creating female and ethnically diverse superheroes has two advantages — one being to reach out to a larger audience who begs for cultural diversity and two, because these racially diverse characters create more of a buzz in the media. With the amount of buzz Riri Williams is already creating, and with the media hype around Kamala Khan, is proof of this.