Will Ironheart Uphold Iron Man’s Legacy?
By Edward Kasule
“Ironheart” expresses something all people experience: pain. RiRi Williams, who the book is based on, went through a lot during her childhood. She was born with a deceased father and lived on the southside of Chicago with her step-father, mother, and sister. Her parents noticed that RiRi had behavioral problems, so when she was five years old, they took her to see a child psychologist. She was diagnosed as a “super genius” which caused her to become an introvert and hide in her mind. The psychologist advised RiRi’s parents to get her special care that would help her keep up with her own mind. When she was ten years old she met her only friend, Natalie, who saw her working in her garage on some superhero inventions. She got a scholarship to M.I.T. a year later at only eleven years old, and her luck seemed to take a turn for the better. Despite her good fortune, tragedy struck again when she was thirteen: Her step father and Natalie got hit by stray bullets during a family picnic at Marquette Park.
This event prompted RiRi to work even harder on her superhero inventions. She started working on her own version of Iron Man's suit by using parts she stole from M.I.T.’s campus. She reverse-engineered an old version of his suit to make her own prototype, but she got caught by security; ultimately, she manages to escape by using her suit to fly away. While soaring around the country and testing her suit, she used its weaponry to stop a group of escaping prisoners in New Mexico, which damaged it. She returned home, where her mother expressed her disapproval of her superhero activities. However, Tony Stark quickly heard about her achievements and decided to visit her as a result. He recruits her to help him fight in the second superhero Civil War. With his help, she went on to become “Ironheart,” an improved version of himself.
“Ironheart” is yet another sign that Marvel is moving away from the typical superhero archetype. From “Black Panther,” to “Ms. Marvel,” to the new “Spiderman” “Thor,” and Hulk, Marvel is shifting from its traditional use of caucasian, male superheroes. Of course, the announcement that the new “Iron Man” was an African-American woman made some angry, but most were satisfied with the refreshing change of perspective. Michael Bendis, a writer for “Ironheart,” stated that, “It’s inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture." Many agree with Bendis, and hope that popular culture can continue to reflect the opinions and experiences of all of its consumers.