Tony Stark is leaving behind his super suit — and a new hero will soon be stepping in.
Marvel announced today, via TIME, that black teenage science genius Riri Williams will be taking over for Stark in the upcoming Invincible Iron Man comic series. After enrolling at MIT when she was only 15, Williams built her own Iron Man suit from scratch in her dorm and immediately attracted the attention of Stark.
Speaking to TIME, writer Brian Michael Bendis revealed that at the end of the Civil War II storyline, Stark will be stepping away from his suit, and Williams will then take over for him full-time — although the fictional character still hasn’t decided on whether she’ll stick with the name Iron Man.
“One of the things Tony does to distract himself from all the things going on in his life is he goes to find this young woman who is flying around the middle of America in an armor that’s not completely made, to try to find out what her deal is,” Bendis said.
The new Invincible Iron Man series, which is penned by Bendis and artist Stefano Caselli, marks the latest attempt to diversify Marvel’s cast of characters by having women and people of color play the iconic heroes. Riri Williams joins recent introductions like Kamala Khan as the Pakistani American Ms. Marvel and Jane Foster as the female Thor. Bendis, who is known for creating characters like Jessica Jones, Miles Morales, and Maria Hill, told TIME that his process for creating characters is “inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture.”
“Some of the comments online, I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound,” Bendis said. “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.”
“But increasingly we see less and less of that,” he added. “Once Miles hit, and Kamala Khan hit, and female Thor hit — there was a part of an audience crawling through the desert and looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it’s here, you’ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love.”
Get a glimpse of Riri Williams below.