July 15, 2016

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Riri Williams, Marvel's New Iron Man, Based on 14-Year-Old Actress Skai Jackson

Getty Images, Marvel
Getty Images, Marvel

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:

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:

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:

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