Comic book publishers have been playing some serious catch-up after decades of characters that were mostly white men filled their pages. The latest step towards a better, more representative future falls in the middle of Iron Man’s storyline.
According to a TIME exclusive interview with Bendis, a black girl named Riri Williams will be holding down the mantle that Tony Stark will leave behind once Marvel’s current Civil War II storyline is done. Williams was created by Brian Michael Bendis, who’s credited with helping create Miles Morales and Jessica Jones, and is a 15-year-old MIT student who reverse-engineered an Iron Man suit out of stolen school supplies. Of course, this gets her on Tony Stark’s radar.
Bendis claims that he was inspired to create Williams while he was working in Chicago and heard stories of young women moving on to college and other successful ventures despite growing up in a violent setting.
“I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard,” Bendis said. “And I sat with it for awhile until I had the right character and the right place.”
Public response has been varied. Some are thrilled at another attempt to add diversity to comic books. Others are, of course, bothered by the change. While a certain population is proud of movement in the right direction, they acknowledge that Bendis, a white man, repeatedly being treated as Marvel’s “diversity guy” is a bit concerning when there are a number of diverse comic book writers to pull from instead.
This still doesn’t make up for them killing off Rhodey though…
Photo Credit: Marvel