Last week, the comic book world trembled with the awesome surprise that Marvel's Civil War II arc would introduce an Iron Man replacement, Riri Williams. The 15-year-old MIT student reverse engineers Tony Stark's trademark armor, gaining his admiration and support. In less than a week, all available issues of Invincible Iron Man #7 (Williams' debut) through #11 sold out completely.
Now an interesting bit of backstory's bubbled up through the inter-ether: Invincible Iron Man artist and co-creator Mike Deodato, Jr. tweeted that Riri Williams was not only inspired by but based on 14-year-old actress Skai Jackson:
Jackson thanked the artist on Instagram, writing, "Thank you @mikedeodato ! I am so honored that I was your inspiration. Young black girls can be superheroes too! #blackgirlmagic #skaisthelimit #ririwilliams #ironman #marvel."
Jackson starred in Disney Channel's Jessie as Zuri Ross from 2011-'15; she's currently starring on the spinoff Bunk'd, which launched last summer and will return in August. She previously voice-acted on Nick Jr.'s Bubble Guppies. Interestingly, folks on Twitter were already spotting the likeness and calling for Jackson to play Iron Man in Marvel's upcoming movies:
I can see Skai Jackson being a great Riri Williams!!! 😀😀😀 #IronMan— Audrey Clark (@ebonyfox85) July 6, 2016
The Riri Williams storyline is an exciting move to diversify Marvel's lead characters, but the book being written by Brian Michael Bendis—a celebrated comics writer but, nonetheless, a white man—has been criticized:
Glad Iron Man is a Black woman. Will be gladder once @Marvel hires more Black women to write, pencil, ink, color, letter, edit, market...— The Nerds of Color (@TheNerdsofColor) July 6, 2016
I'm happy for all of these Black women leads in Marvel comics, but really wish the publisher would give Black women a chance to write them— Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) July 6, 2016
Marvel Comics: "Iron Man as a black woman would be dope."— Ira Madison III (@ira) July 6, 2016
Black Woman: "I would love to write —"
Marvel: "We have white people for that."
This. A black girl as Iron Man is great. Zero black women on the creative team creating her story? Not great. https://t.co/iEaQEoMax0— Toni McIntyre (@ToniMacAttack) July 6, 2016
Marvel does not have Black women writers. This is fact. Black male writers at Marvel doesn't balance this out in the least...— Rebecca Theodore (@FilmFatale_NYC) July 6, 2016
Upon the Riri Williams x Civil War II reveal, Bendis said, "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." He also noted that Williams' "brain is maybe a little better" than Tony Stark's.
Next, kick it with some cosplayers at New York Comic Con: