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Ironheart – The MCU’s New Genius Engineer Explained

3 Minute Read
Nov 10 2022

Young heroes are taking to the screen in the MCU – including Tony Stark’s protege. Who is Riri Williams aka Ironheart?

The young engineer that caught the eye of Tony Stark is having a breakout moment in the MCU right now. Riri Williams is a power-suited hero that has taken on Hydra, Thanos, and the Ten Rings. Ironheart is going to prove an integral part of the next MCU saga – but where did she come from?

First Appearance: Invincible Iron Man (Vol. 4) #3 (January 2017)
Created By: Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato


Who is Riri Williams aka Ironheart?

Riri actually debuted a year before her power-armored hero version did. She grew up in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago with her sister, mother, and stepfather. Her intelligence and curiosity led her to have behavioral problems as a young child, leading her parents to talk to a psychologist. Testing revealed a genius intellect and a move to a foster facility to develop her abilities and support her emotionally. She was accepted to M.I.T. at eleven.

She started building power armored suits after her best friend and stepfather were killed in a drive-by shooting. Taking the protection of her loved ones (and eventually humanity) into her own hands. The first prototype Riri built was based on reversed-engineering the Iron Man Armor Model 41. During her test flights across the country, she helped stop a couple of inmates from escaping New Mexico State Penitentiary.

Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2 #12 via Marvel

Her heroics caught the eye of Tony Stark, who encouraged her. He took her under his hand repulsers (?) and became her mentor. After Tony was left in a coma due to injuries he sustained during the second Civil War, Riri continued his legacy. She customized and upgraded her suit and took on the name Ironheart. She installed an AI navigation system with Tony’s voice. Since then she’s worked with the Champions, S.H.I.E.L.D., and gone on numerous solo missions.

Ironheart suit design by Kevin Libranda via Marvel

In the MCU

Dominique Thorne is playing Riri in the MCU. She’ll star in a Disney+ solo series that’s set to come out in 2023. Before she does that, she’s making an introductory pit stop in Wakanda. This is going to be amazing for her. I’m assuming she’s an exchange student working with Shuri when things start to go down. Her skills are going to make her a great ally to Wakanda in this fight.

Her link to Wakanda is clear, but there are a few other places in the MCU she fits. She has connections to the Ten Rings, so adding her to Shang-Chi‘s corner of things would make sense. While her first team in the comics was the Champions, Ironheart could easily be added to the Young Avengers team Marvel Studios seems to be building in the background. Right now those characters include:


We’ll have to wait till next year to see where Riri fits and how that team shapes up – and how big a role they’ll play in the upcoming war against Kang. A conflict that includes a battle over time and the multiverse is going to need all hands on deck.

Author: Mars Garrett
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