Ryan Coogler had the distinct honor of introducing not one but two major Marvel Comics heroes in his follow-up to 2018’s Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The first character was probably the most impactful as it also introduced a new group of people to the MCU: Namor. The other character plays a significant role in various Iron Man comics and becomes the genius’s protege. That character is Riri Williams, otherwise known as Ironheart.
Ironheart, played by the dynamic Dominique Thorne, entered the MCU in a very different manner than her comic book counterpart. Coogler and his writing team had to fit Ironheart into the MCU landscape as it was, drastically different from the universe of the comics. While changing certain origin stories and backgrounds is common in any adaptation and not uncommon in the MCU by any means, Riri Williams underwent some significant changes because of the way previous entries into the MCU played out.
RELATED: Marvel’s Ironheart: Who Is The Hood?
Ironheart in Marvel Comics
The Marvel Comics version of Riri Williams presents a strong tie to Tony Stark, much in the same way the MCU has Peter Parker tied to him. Riri in the comics, creates a suit of armor similar to Iron Man’s using stolen parts from MIT, where she’s a student. She ends up using the suit of armor to stop a pair of convicts from escaping prison, at which point her suit of armor sustains damage. After hearing about the armor and attempted prison break, Tony Stark meets Riri and ends up endorsing her bid to become a superhero due to her impressive intellect and skills.
The young MIT student builds a second suit of armor with the help of Tony Stark himself and assists him in a second superhero Civil War against Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel. Talk about throwing someone in the deep end. The events of Civil War 2 leave Tony in a coma and the world without an Iron Man. Riri decides to take up the Iron Man mantel with her own suit, calling herself Ironheart.
Riri made a name for herself within the comic book version of the Marvel Universe, facing imposing threats such as Rhino, Lady Octopus, and Armadillo. Her most formidable nemesis is Lucia von Bardas, a criminal cyborg from Latveria who initiated an attack against the United States of America. Ironheart launched a one-person counter-offensive and defeated the criminal mastermind. Furthermore, she brought democracy and free elections to the country previously ruled by Doctor Doom.
Her character is so entwined with Tony Stark that she has an A.I. version of him as a mentor/sidekick. Tony Stark’s mother, Amanda Armstrong, allowed Riri to work out of Tony’s old lab and even teamed up with Pepper Potts, who equipped herself with the Rescue armor.
Ironheart is still too new of a character within the MCU for all of this to have happened yet. Still, with her new series coming out, some of it may make it to the character’s cinematic interpretation. However, even with her brief appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, there are some drastic differences that the MCU won’t be able to reconcile.
Ironheart in the MCU
Ryan Coogler, the director of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, managed to keep some core character traits intact but had to make some concessions here and there for the character to fit within the cinematic universe. For starters, there’s no connection to Tony Stark. This is largely due to the character dying in Avengers: Endgame. Instead, Riri Williams received a significant connection to Shuri, who is also a technological genius. The two worked together in Shuri’s lab, where Riri crafted her Mark II armor, and Shuri created an artificial heart-shaped herb to become the new Black Panther.
Secondly, Shuri and Okoye didn’t seek out Riri because of her prototype armor. Instead, they were after her because she created a device capable of finding vibranium. The CIA initially used the device to find vibranium outside of Wakanda, which Namor determined was a threat to Talokan. This put Riri in Namor’s sights as well. Additionally, Riri didn’t stop a prison break.
The comics showed Riri use Iron Man’s classic gold and red color scheme with her armor as a vow to Tony after he fell into a coma. Again, since Riri has no connection to Tony in the MCU, her final suit in Wakanda Forever barely resembles her armor from the comics. Her suit in the MCU is much bulkier, with large shoulder plates. She also likely crafted it out of vibranium, a little upgrade Tony never had a chance to make in the MCU. This provides Riri’s armor with significant durability.
Lastly, the MCU Riri doesn’t own the Ironheart armor. At the end of Wakanda Forever, Shuri tells Riri that Wakanda will retain possession of the armor until she returns to Wakanda. This puts a significant limitation on Ironheart’s ability to become the same superhero she is in the comics. It will be interesting to see in her series if she has to get the armor from Shuri, makes a new suit, or if she manages to steal it without detection. Going against The Hood, Riri will need her armor and all the upgrades she can muster.
Ironheart’s debut to the MCU drastically differed from her original appearance in the comics. Read More