When it’s not signing Steve Rogers up for Hydra, Marvel Comics has made some impressive moves in diversifying its superheroes in recent years. Thor is now a woman, Spider-Man is Miles Morales, and now Iron Man will be Riri Williams, a black prodigy who is, yes, also a lady.
Time revealed that Riri will take up the Iron Man-tle following the end of the Civil War II series. The character’s also a tech whiz: Riri started MIT at the age of 15, where she’s been crafting Iron Man suits in her dorm room. Creator Brian Michael Bendis tells Time he was inspired to create Riri after spending time in Chicago:
“One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn’t end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. 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. 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.”
This news will undoubtedly spark reasonable, not-at-all bigoted discussion, as is its wont. But there’s also some legitimate criticism coming Marvel’s way—a number of people have already pointed out that there is something off about the fact that a new heroine of color is being written by a white man.
Marvel Comics: “Iron Man as a black woman would be dope.”
Black Woman: “I would love to write —”
Marvel: “We have white people for that.”
— Ira Madison III (@ira) July 6, 2016