Meet M.I.T. genius Riri Williams, the new Iron Man. Marvel announced that Williams will inherit Tony Stark‘s throne on Wednesday, with Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis breaking down the fresh comic book character’s impact on the Invincible Iron Man series in a candidchat with TIME.
“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,” Bendis said of developing the new character. “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.”
Williams, a science genius who enrolls in M.I.T. when she’s just 15 years old, quickly gains Stark’s attention after she builds her own Iron Man suit from the comfort of her dorm. For those screaming “THANKS FOR SPOILING CIVIL WAR II,” please calmly check yourself. Marvel confirms that announcing Stark’s exit as Iron Man “doesn’t mean you know the end” of Civil War II.
“Some of the comments online, I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound,” Bendis said of some comic readers’ mind-boggling aversion to diversity, i.e. the reaction to the recent Kick-Ass relaunch. “I’m not saying if you criticize you’re a racist, but if someone writes, ‘Why do we need Riri Williams we already have Miles?’ That’s a weird thing to say. They’re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals. All I can do is state my case for the character, and maybe they’ll realize over time that that’s not the most progressive thinking.”
Indeed. Welcome to the throne, Riri.