When Marvel President Kevin Feige announced the expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the 2020 Disney Investor Day, the name Ironheart may have caught fans by surprise. The character doesn’t have a long history within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having just been introduced in 2015. But what makes this announcement even more tantalizing now is that insider Daniel Richtman is saying that character Riri Williams will be introduced on the Disney+ series as bisexual.
If this rumor is to be true, it will mark a big change from the source material as in the comics, Williams has yet to come out as LGBTQ+, though it wouldn’t be the first time Marvel has made this change for the screen. In the upcoming feature The Eternals, Marvel has reimagined superhero Phastos as a married gay man and father. When it comes to diversity and inclusivity, Marvel seems to be working extra hard in this next phase.
Ironheart’s Riri Williams is a 15-year-old super genius, who was created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato. Williams is an engineering student on scholarship at the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology and it is there she designs a suit similar to Tony Stark’s from materials she lifted from around campus. After a run-in with escaped inmates, Williams continues to improve the suit. Her exploits gain the attention of Tony Stark, who goes to meet the young genius, where Stark says he will endorse her decision to become a superheroine. Thus, Ironheart is born.
In Riri’s brief five-year Marvel Cinematic Universe existence, she has been through a lot. She has seen action post-Civil War II, and was also a big part of the Secret Empire storyline. But it was the 2019 storyline that seems to be driving the new series, as it is where Riri finds out that her android teammate Viv Vision – daughter of Vision – has romantic feelings for her. Viv even surprises Riri with a kiss, which causes Riri to react with revulsion. But after an incident with the villain Blackheart, it is Viv’s affection that helps save Riri by snapping her out of Blackheart’s control, causing Riri to finally acknowledge Viv’s feelings.
Dominique Thorne is set to play Riri Williams but other than Thorne, no other cast announcements have been made. Marvel would be hard-pressed not to have both Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) involved as the two have major relationships with the young Williams. While there have been plenty of rumors of Downey Jr. jumping back into his Iron Man armor, not much has been said of Paltrow returning as Potts, though Paltrow did say recently that she would return if Downey Jr. asked, telling her Instagram followers, “You KNOW I will be this guys pepper anytime he needs me. #pepperonyforever.”
So, it remains to be seen if either or both would be part of the Ironheart series. As for Williams and her introduction as an LBGTQ+ character, it will be interesting to see how close to the storyline Marvel will follow.