“There’s a new Iron Man. Well, Iron Man for now. She’s still working on the name. The events at the end of the comic-book event series Civil War II will result in Tony Stark stepping out of the Iron Man suit and a new character, Riri Williams, taking over, Marvel tells TIME. (Note: Tony’s departure doesn’t mean you know the end to Civil War II yet.)
Riri is a science genius who enrolls in MIT at the age of 15. She comes to the attention of Tony when she builds her own Iron Man suit in her dorm. Creator and Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis spoke exclusively to TIME about the creation of Riri Williams with comic-book artist Stefano Caselli and Marvel’s increasingly diverse cast of characters.
How did you come up with the character of Riri Williams?
One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn’t end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life — just random street violence — and went off to college was very inspiring to me. 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.
As we’ve been slowly and hopefully very organically adding all these new characters to the Marvel Universe, it just seemed that sort of violence inspiring a young hero to rise up and act, and using her science acumen, her natural-born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where even Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me…”