August 7, 2019
20 Fascinating Facts About Ironheart, the Female Iron Man

Dwelling with her mom and sister in Chicago’s South Shore, Riri Williams’s Ironheart is one of the newest young superheroes to join the Marvel comics canon. Bringing some seriously next-level Black Girl Magic to the Marvel universe, Ironheart is a resourceful and inventive tech whiz. She wants to continue Iron Man’s legacy and superhero in her own right as the female Iron Man.

A certified super genius and the first Black woman to don an Iron Man suit, Riri slays in the STEM field. She’s capable of stopping cyborg supervillains, hacking alien tech, and is even shortlisted for a Nobel Peace Prize!

Buckle up and get ready to meet one of Earth’s mightiest and most promising new defenders– Ironheart!

1. She Knows Great Loss

Before Riri Williams became Ironheart, she was just a brainy thirteen-year-old. She never knew her biological pops, Riri Sr., but she had her mom, sister, and step-dad. Then, one afternoon, a sweet picnic with her family in Chicago’s Marquette Park quickly veered into tragedy.

Riri’s BFF, Natalie, and her step-father were struck and killed by stray bullets from a drive-by shooting. The traumatic deaths of Nat and the only father Riri ever knew ignited a fire inside her. She didn’t don the proverbial superhero cape yet. However, she REFUSED to let any more innocent people die on her watch.

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man: Riri Williams Is Ironheart #1, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2016

2. She’s A Spacey Girl

One of Riri’s most significant inspirations is Mae Jemison. In 1992, Jemison was the first Black woman to go to space. Jemison’s historical trip on the shuttle Endeavor inspired Riri to throw herself entirely into her STEM passion.

She dedicated her time to making her mark in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This put her on the path to Ironheart superherodom! To infinity and beyond, amiright?!

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man: Riri Williams Is Ironheart #8, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2016

3. She’s One Of The Youngest Students At MIT

When Riri was just five-years-old, her parents found out that their little tyke was a bit of a genius. That said, it’s no great shocker than ten years later, Riri began studying at MIT. At just fifteen-years-old, Riri is one of Marvel’s most intelligent and innovative young heroes.

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart Vol.1, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2016

4. An Actress Inspired Her Character

Invincible Iron Man comic book author Brian Michael Bendis and the artist Mike Deodato created Ironheart with someone specific in mind: Disney Channel actress Skai Jackson. Deodato proudly shared his inspiration in a now-famous Tweet!

5. She Created Her Supersuit

Using what she knew about the mechanics in Iron Man’s famous suit, Riri crafted her armored suit through reverse engineering. Why do you think that is? She wanted to challenge herself to best Tony Stark.

Image Sources: Invincible Iron Man #7, Art by Mike Deodato, Marvel, 2016

However, don’t you dare call Riri’s Iron suit a copy of Tony’s. An Arc-Reactor didn’t power Riri’s first suit. It also didn’t have A.I. guidance, YET it was still capable of flight. When she wore it, she was also powerful enough to flip over a speeding 18-wheeler truck!

6. She’s Thrifty…

Just like any broke AF college student, Riri was all about scoring freebies. When she was building her Iron suit from scratch like a boss, she gathered most of the parts *cough* junk *cough* secondhand from around campus.

7. … But, Sometimes To A Fault

But, here comes the problem. Some of those used parts Riri snatched up? Well erm, Riri’s “borrowing” looked a lot like stealing to some of the MIT professors and staff.

But before they could either punish or *gulp* expel Riri, the female Iron Man launched herself skyward. She flew far away and hasn’t been back to MIT since. She has, however, moved back home to Chicago. Double welp.

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man #9, Art by Mike Deodato, Marvel, 2016

8. She Started As An Accidental Superhero

When Ironheart was on the lam from MIT, she spied two inmates escaping New Mexico’s state prison. While Ironheart was able to stop them (and the speeding truck they commandeered!), she permanently damaged her suit in the process.

9. She Was Given Tony Stark’s Blessing

Riri’s New Mexico stunt caught the attention of none other than Tony Stark himself, who paid Riri a house call. He didn’t call the techy teen out for tinkering with his super suit or blast her with his signature snark. Instead, Tony Stark, the OG Iron Man himself, gave her props for her ingenuity.

Impressed by her engineering prowess and quick-thinking, Tony welcomed Riri as a mentee of sorts. Like Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the most recent MCU films, Riri’s “internship” with Mr. Stark immersed her in Stark Industry’s highly advanced tech. It also gave her professional combat training, and even personal access to Stark’s exclusive armored suits and A.I. systems.

Images Source: Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart Vol.1, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2016

10. She’s a Civil War Veteran

Civil War II that is! Ironheart fought on the side of Tony Stark against Carol Danvers’s Captain Marvel during the brutal chaos of Civil War II. Although Riri came away from the battle relatively unscathed, Tony ended up in a coma.

With Tony Stark out of commission, Riri officially became Ironheart, the female Iron Man. She decided to continue carrying out Stark’s brand of justice in her similarly powered armored suit.

11. She First Appeared In The Invincible Iron Man

Tony Stark name-dropped Riri Williams in The Invincible Iron Man volume 3 issue #1 in December of 2015. The aspiring Iron Woman made her official comics debut on the last page of issue #7.

Scattered piles of wires, gadgets, and gizmos surrounded her in her MIT dorm at 3 a.m. Why? She was plugging away at a crude model of her very first Iron suit.

Image Sources: Invincible Iron Man #7, Art by Mike Deodato, Marvel, 2016

12. She Headlines Her Own Series

As of 2018, Riri Williams has been headlining her own comic*, Ironheart. Written by Black Chicago-based playwright and poet Eve Ewing, and illustrated by Luciano Vecchio, the Volume #1 collected edition, Those With Courage, just hit comic book store shelves this year!

*Note: Before this, Riri was also featured in Brian Michael Bendis’s Invincible Iron Man and Invincible Iron Man: Riri Williams Is Ironheart comics beginning in 2015.

Image Source: Ironheart Iron Man Vol.1 Those With Courage, Art by Luciano Vecchio, Marvel, 2019

13. She’s A Champion.

In the Earth-616 comics Secret Empire, Ironheart is a proud member of the teen superhero squad The Champions. The team is made up of Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales’s Spider-Man after Civil War II. Their mission? “enforc[e] justice without unjust force” and to “win the right way — not with hate [or] retribution, but with wisdom and hope.”

Along with the other Champions, Amadeus Cho’s Hulk, Nadia Van Dyne’s Wasp, and Patriot, Ironheart fought to defeat the Hydra imposter Captain America. The Champions also defeated the rest of Hydra sleeper cell forces from taking over the U.S.

14. She Already Made Her TV Debut

Riri is featured in the episode “Heart of Iron” in the animated series Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors. On Marvel Rising’s Earth-TRN684, 15-year-old Riri is a student at the Empire Tech University. Kree baddie Hala The Accuser steals Riri’s armor and hijacks its programming.

This sets the suit, powered by Riri’s A.I., Amy, loose on the city. Doing what, you ask? Spewing anti plasma (“the more stuff it eats, the bigger it gets!”).

Riri teams up with the superpowered teens Squirrel Girl, Quake, Ms. Marvel, Patriot, Ghost-Spider, Inferno, and Miss America to shut down the suit and evacuate the city.

#Plotwist: on this Earth, Riri’s female Iron Man has zero interaction with Tony Stark. She comes into her own superhero identity after working with the Secret Warriors! Friendships like these are forever!

15. She Can LARP Like A Boss

Image Source: Champions #26, Art by Max Dunbar, Marvel, 2018

Well, to some extent. In The Champions  #26, Ironheart and her other criminal crushing companions were zapped to another dimension known as Weirdworld. In the World of Warcraft meets Dungeons & Dragons medieval fantasy world, Riri’s transformed into a magical scepter wielding knight– Lady Ironheart.

As the Supervillain Eshu races to gather mystical crystals that could make him unstoppable, Riri has to reunite the rest of the Champions. All of them lost their memories upon poofing into the warped Ren Faire.

16. She Gets By With A Little Help From Her . . .

A.I.! The artificial intelligence in Riri’s second Ironheart suit is based off none other than the billionaire playboy snark master himself– Tony Stark! After what happened in Civil War II, Riri got one-on-one training from an A.I. Tony Stark. A coma can’t keep a good man down!

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart Vol.1, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2016

17. She Hit The Mentor Jackpot

Not only did Ironheart have A.I. Tony Stark’s wisdom and mentoring, but three powerful women also had her back! In the comics, Pepper Potts (moonlighting as the Iron suit-clad superhero Rescue) and Mary Jane Watson played a part in Ironheart becoming her best superhero self.

Even Tony’s biological mother and one time Stark Industries President, Amanda Armstrong, helped.

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart Vol.2 Choices, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2017

18. She’s a Queen

S.H.I.E.L.D. dispatched Ironheart to battle cyborg terrorist dictator Lucia Von Bardas. She had seized control of Latveria with nefarious plans for America and her own country. Joining the ranks of other S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives who tried (and failed) to take down Von Bardas, the female Iron Man did what they couldn’t: succeeded.

Ironheart hacked Lucia’s Doomtech and triggered her energy field. This trapped her in her own defense ‘til the S.H.I.E.L.D cavalry arrived and took the villainous Von Bardas into custody. Ironheart proved her brilliance in politics and diplomacy as well.

She was appointed Latveria’s Queen, but she forgoed the throne in favor of helping Latveria become a democracy again!

19. Third Suit’s The Charm

Image Source: Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart Vol.1, Art by Stefano Caselli, Marvel, 2016

Riri’s Ironheart 3.0 armor is her most FErocious model yet. Significantly lighter than her other suits, its highly calibrated aerodynamics allow Riri to soar her fastest and furthest yet.

Riri’s current Ironheart suit is more powerful than her previous two combined. It also boasts a more sophisticated A.I. system, and when it’s not in use, a small arm bracer contains it. Once activated, Ironheart’s 3.0 armor can encase her in seconds. It is equipped with repulsor blasts and a faceplate that can turn completely transparent.

20. Robert Downey Jr. Wants Her To Join The MCU!

Ironheart is endorsed by the MCU’s own Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.!

Downey announced at the Gene Siskel Film Center gala that he’d love to see Ironheart join the next phase of the MCU.

Ironheart writer Eve Ewing’s tweet about that momentous moment at the gala took the entire internet by storm. It also encouraged other MCU actors to share their hype about Riri potentially hitting the big screen. This includes Spider-Man’s Tom Holland.

With rumors of an already written Ironheart screenplay emerging we might get Ironheart’s MCU debut sooner than we think!

Not going to lie, we love this 3,000.

Riri Williams’s Ironheart is so much more than just the female Iron Man.

She is not a gender-bent take on Tony Stark’s Iron Man. There’s a reason why Riri doesn’t go by Iron Woman or Iron Girl.

As Ironheart, this high-spirited Champion and super-genius has forged her own identity. She has claimed a place for herself in the Marvel universe. With incomparable moxie and courage, she’s carrying out Iron Man’s superhero legacy but on her own terms.

Victoria Tomis

Contributor

Hiya, my name is Vicky and I’m your friendly neighborhood Marvel-loving, Studio Ghibli-obsessed, Queer Potterhead.

I may be in my mid-twenties but I’ve been an enthusiastic Potterhead for over a decade. I can’t go a day without firing off at least half a dozen Harry Potter references and have a small museum of Potter and Wizarding World merch… one with FAR too many Funkos.

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