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Who Is Ironheart – Black Widow 2’s New Hero. Photo Marvel

The Judas and the Black Messiah actress will appear in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever before starring as the titular hero of Disney+'s upcoming Ironheart show. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige revealed the news during a recent interview with

"We're shooting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever right now, and the character of Riri Williams you will meet in Black Panther 2 first," Feige said. "She started shooting, I think, this week, before her Ironheart series."

Who is Ironheart?

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Photo Variety

In the comics, Riri Williams is a teen super-genius growing up in Chicago. She tinkers with inventions intended to assist passing superheroes until, at an impressive 11 years old, she receives a scholarship from MIT. But then tragedy strikes: Riri's best friend Natalie and her step-father are killed in a drive-by shooting.

Ironheart has been described as the "new Iron Man", and this is a statement that is paradoxically likely both true and false. Riri Williams will be continuing the honored age-old Marvel tradition of putting a high-tech suit of armor in order to do various superhero feats - and her origins do tie her to Tony Stark, as a successor of sorts - so it is fair to say she does in a sense take on the role of Iron Man. However, it's also not strictly accurate to say she is a new version of the MCU's most iconic figure, as the Ironheart mantle is something decidedly different; inspired by Stark, but more honoring him than taking his place.

What's her connection to Iron Man?

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Photo Screen Rant

Given the fact that Riri was only introduced in 2016 - and would become Ironheart the next year - it's understandable that her introduction to the MCU has garnered a fair amount of confusion, as the role is both a relatively new one, and also one that can often fall somewhat to the wayside in favor of bigger heroes like Thor or Spider-Man. However, this should be abated with this new show, which can provide fans a look into Ironheart's origins, her abilities, and place her among the esteemed ranks of superheroes who have made it into the MCU.

At the MIT campus, Riri challenges herself to secretly build her own suit of armor. She does so by stealing material from the university, ending up with her own version of an Iron Man suit. She then puts her new capabilities to the test by stopping two prison inmates during their attempted jail break.

A certain Tony Stark catches wind of Riri's victory and visits the budding armored hero to give her his blessing.

Dominique Thorne has one more stop before she stars in Ironheart, an upcoming Marvel series on Disney Plus. Her character Riri Williams, a teen so clever she creates her own Iron Man suit and becomes superhero Ironheart, will debut in Black Panther sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

"We're shooting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, right now, and the character of Riri Williams, you will meet in Black Panther 2 first," Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige recently told "She started shooting, I think, this week before her Ironheart series."

Ironheart Origin and Story In Marvel Comics

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Photo Marvel

Riri Williams was born to Sharon Williams and Riri Williams Sr. just after the untimely death of her father. Her immense intellect would become noticed at a young age, although it would combine with her introverted nature to make her something of a recluse - notably avoiding human interaction to work on inventions to help superheroes do their job, even at this point in life. As with many heroes, Riri's life would again be struck by tragedy as a drive-by shooting saw her step-father and sister become collateral damage, which proved to be the catalyst for Williams to decide to make a super-suit of her own, reverse-engineered from Iron Man tech.

Although this armor did ultimately prove a failure, it gained the notice of Tony Stark, who would go on to become a mentor for the young woman, akin to his relationship with Spider-Man in the MCU. As a result, she would fight in Civil War II, and when Tony fell into a coma at the end of the comic, Riri would take on some of his superhero responsibilities as Ironheart, wanting to do right both by her mentor and for the world - and being assisted by an AI Stark to help her along the way.

When will the Ironheart series come out on Disney Plus?

No official release date yet, but it's speculated to arrive sometime in 2022 at the earliest.

Ironheart's Powers In Marvel Comics

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Photo Marvel

The Ironheart armor, in the comics, has gone through three editions - much in the same vein as the comic and MCU Iron Man possess several different suits with various upgrades. The first edition is the reverse-engineered Iron Man suit, which is not only notably bulkier and less refined, but also significantly less powerful. Despite looking intimidating, it basically served as a wall of metal around the user - allowing them to take more hits and throw heavier punches. Aside from this, though - and of course its ability to fly - it wasn't all that useful, which is why it would basically be destroyed upon collision with a truck full of criminals. This isn't a bad thing, though, as a weaker first suit allows viewers to see Riri doesn't start out the perfect hero - much like the scenes dedicated to showing Tony Stark failing to properly use his Iron Man armor.

The second and third versions of the armor are a very different story, however, as not only did Riri have assistance from the AI Stark on the construction of them, but she'd also learned from her previous errors. Not only are these armors able to take a beating from both physical attacks and various energy beams, but they also come equipped with repulsor blasts and grenades - although the mark 3 also boasts micro-impact precision missiles and more nonlethal takedown options.

Dominique Thorne Is Ironheart In MCU

Dominique Thorne - who is set to play the role of Ironheart in the Disney+ series - may have rung a bell for some film fans, for her role in the 2018 Oscar-winning movie If Beale Street Could Talk. The film offered an upsetting and honest look into police corruption and racism in the 1970s through the false incarceration of Fonny Hunt, interwoven with a love story as his pregnant partner attempts to deal with his time in jail. While Thorne did not win the Oscar - as it went to Regina King, who won Best Supporting Actress - her role as Fonny's sister is still interesting, even if only because it lets MCU fans have some insight into her acting prowess. Dominique Thorne will also be appearing in 2021's Judas and The Black Messiah, which covers the story of the FBI's attempts to take down Fred Hampton, the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party.

Predicting Ironheart's MCU Story

Tony Stark Plays Sidekick to Marvel's New Iron Man

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Photo Toys Matrix

The peculiar thing about the timing of introducing Ironheart is that it comes more or less still in the wake of Iron Man's death in Avengers: Endgame - whereas, in the comics, the pair had time to bond and for Riri to learn from him, both technologically and in terms of what it means to be a hero. However, it seems borderline impossible Williams won't have been affected by him in some way, so the chances are either that she was one of many talented young people Stark sponsored - as it seems unlikely Peter was his only mentee - or otherwise one of the many people inspired by the work Tony carried out. Either is a good idea, as both make it clear that Ironheart is not "stealing" the role of Iron Man, but rather respecting the good he did by taking a name similar to his mantle.

On another note, it would also allow for Ironheart and Spider-Man to have an immediate bond, as both would have been taught by Tony. Their shared grief and love for the hero would be a powerful way for them to connect, as well as potentially breaking the cycle of mentors Peter is currently stuck in with the MCU, by having him instead help and bond with one of his peers. With the "next generation" of Avengers no doubt featuring both Riri and Peter, allowing for them to share in this element of their origin would solidify the idea of legacy that the MCU thrives on - as, despite Iron Man's death, his hope for humanity is able to live on in the two heroes he left his mark on. As it stands, the future for Ironheart in the MCU is bright, as she could be used as a stand-in for Tony in the events of Civil War II, adventured with The Champions, and thus could be used as a way to bring them to the center stage - and has dealt with the Ten Rings, potentially allowing her a link to Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings.

What else do we know about Black Panther 2?

The sequel to 2018's Black Panther is scheduled for release on July 8, 2022. Ryan Coogler will return to direct, along with original cast members Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Daniel Kaluuya Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o, and Martin Freeman.

Marvel chose not to recast the role of T'Challa following Chadwick Boseman's death. Marvel chief Kevin Feige said that the next film will focus on exploring "different subcultures" of Wakanda.

"Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story," he told Deadline in January.

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