One of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s most prominent new characters is Riri Williams – aka Ironheart.
Played by Judas and the Black Messiah Dominique Thorne, she’s an MIT genius student who has invented a Vibranium detector, making her of extreme interest to the U.S. intelligence services and also Namor, the tough-as-nails leader of the Talokan, whose very existence is threatened by Riri’s smarts. Even more intriguingly, echoing her arc in the comics, she has crafted her own Iron Man-style armoured suit.
Created in 2016 by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato, Riri is portrayed in the comics as a genius teenager living with her family in Chicago. After winning a scholarship to MIT, she reverse-engineers an old Iron Man suit of armour. With Tony Stark still alive – unlike in the MCU, following events of Avengers: Infinity War – she even fights alongside the original Iron Man, even creating a Stark-like A.I. for her suit, before eventually adopting the name ‘Ironheart’.
More recently, the comics have seen her pared with Shuri, which is arguably the path the filmmakers have plotted for her going forward. Fans won’t have too long to wait for Thorne to reappear as Riri. Next autumn sees the launch of Ironheart on Disney +. Filming in Atlanta is now coming to an end on the limited series, which is being produced by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. Co-starring with Williams will be In The Heights’ Anthony Ramos, with speculation rife that he is playing the villainous character The Hood. Also joining the show is Solo: A Star Wars Story actor Alden Ehrenreich.
There is no indication yet that Robert Downey Jr. would make a reappearance, if the show follows the idea of a Stark A.I. Yet the possibilities seem endless for Ironheart, who may yet be teamed up with Ms. Marvel and others for a small-screen series of Champions, the story of a group of adolescent superheroes that first appeared in the comics in 2016.