If it’s one thing Marvel Comics seems to be very good at these days, it’s making headlines.
The latest news grabber? Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, will be replaced by a 15-year old black female named Riri Williams. Making the new Iron Man, uh, a woman. And a minority at that.
As reported by TIME, writer Brian Michael Bendis, he of Ultimate Spider-Man fame, will find Tony Stark stepping down as Iron Man, replaced by the aforementioned Williams, “a science genius who enrolls in MIT at the age of 15.”
Written by Bendis and drawn by Stefano Caselli, the decision to replace the popular Stark as Iron Man with a minority female character is a move that was surely designed to move the needle. And according to Brian, he’s ready for the reaction from the expected reaction from the fans.
“There are fans who say, ‘Show us the new stuff,’ and then there are fans who say, ‘Don’t do anything different from when I was a kid.’ So when you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood.”
He also brought up that his experience introducing a new character in Miles Morales, who donned the guise of Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe, has at the very least, softened the blow.
“Thankfully because of my involvement in the creation of Miles Morales and Jessica Jones and some other characters, it’s getting the benefit of the doubt from even the most surly fans.”
But regardless, a move like this was sure to draw the ire, or at the very least, attention from social media.
“In the past I have had reservations about creators changing the race/gender/orientation of existing characters. Too often it feels forced,” Iron Man fan Christopher Gouin commented on Facebook. “[But] I am intrigued with the potential of this character. Remember, Ironman’s powers come from the suit (and Tony’s super-genius IQ). If written correctly, Riri could be a completely different character than Tony’s Ironman.”
While on the other end of the spectrum, fans like Connor Arbiter focused their opinion on the fact that Marvel insists on changing the status quo of their more established heroes rather than create new ones, a complaint that many fans have echoed.
“If you wanna prove that minority women can enter the stem field, make a new character that represents that. Why does she have to emulate a man and fill his shoes and basically repeat his steps? She can find her own claim to fame, according to the message you were trying to send.”
And Connor does have a point. Phil Vargas, a self-proclaimed fan of Marvel Comics, summed it up in his post, that Marvel’s entire established universe has been completely re-written to include more diversity or simply for shock value.
“Thor is Jane, Hawkeye is a girl, wolverine is x-23, hulk is cho, cap is cap but is on the wrong side or is Falcon Captain America? We have 3 spider-people.”
Marvel recently made headlines for completely re-writing Captain America’s past. Instead of the patriot we all knew Steve Rogers to be, writer Nick Spencer shocked the world when it was revealed Steve was really a Hydra agent all along. The move was something that, at the time, did not sit well with fans of the book, as reported by Bleeding Cool.
In the end though, Marvel is simply trying to compete in a 24-hour social media world. And just like the Captain America storyline before it, most fans recognize that Tony Stark will one day reclaim the mantle of Iron Man and that Riri will eventually step aside. The only hope for those applauding the diversity angle is that Riri will eventually become like Miles Morales and justify his inclusion in the permanent Marvel Universe.
In the meantime, her appearance as the new Iron Man will simply ignite a firestorm on social media, like the Twitter posts seen below.
How is iron MAN going to be a woman? Im all for equality but come on thats legit not what the character is
— Malique P♏️ (@Leke03) July 6, 2016
So much salt over a fifteen year old girl being the new Iron Man.
— Space Man Spiff (@Space_Man_Spiff) July 6, 2016
Well, that’s that. Looks like I’m burning my copy of Iron Man 3…
— Brett Booth (@Demonpuppy) July 6, 2016
I know it’s a bit racist of me, but the only person who can be Iron Man is Robert Downy Jr.
— Robert Graham ❄ (@ErrataRob) July 6, 2016
[Image via the Verge]