Robert Downey Jr. better watch his back. Time reports Marvel Comics is getting a new—female—Iron Man: a black teenager named Riri Williams. Williams will be stepping into the role of Iron Man at the conclusion of the current Civil War II event. “She’s probably smarter than Tony, which is a lot of fun to write in a book starring the man who is always smarter than everybody in the room. Or thinks he is,” Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis tells io9. Williams is a genius who gained admission to MIT at 15 before building her own Iron Man suit in her dorm room. Bendis says he was inspired by street violence in Chicago, wanting to write a character who was able to overcome and be motivated by that environment.
Bendis tells Time he's been "greeted with this wave of love" by female and minority comics readers desperate for greater representation. But he's also faced criticisms, racist and otherwise. “When you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood," Bendis says. However, some people are wary of Riri Williams for another reason, the Washington Post reports. While Marvel's cast of heroes is getting more diverse, the people creating the comics remain largely white and male—and that includes Bendis. “If you’re going to bring in a new, young, black character ... the least you could do is give her an authentic black, female voice," the Post states. (Read more Iron Man stories.)