From Shang-Chi to the Eternals, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to take shape. While the MCU is now tasked with introducing new Avengers to the ever-expanding fold, one of the upcoming additions might be the smartest superhero on the team. The Ironheart series on Disney+ will star Dominique Thorne as Riri Williams, a teen genius who engineers her own high-tech suit inspired by Iron Man’s — and then receives support from the man himself, Tony Stark, on her quest to be a hero.
Though her suit and name may take a page from the fallen hero’s handbook, Riri is a product of her own creation, a powerful prodigy whose technical skill and emotional fortitude are poised to make her one of the most compelling characters in the MCU so far. While it will still be some time before Riri makes her official MCU debut, there’s plenty to learn about her character in the meantime (and, fortunately, a stacked slate of Marvel shows and movies to enjoy along the way, too). Here is everything you should know about Ironheart and her upcoming Disney+ series, which, interestingly enough, won’t be the first time you see her in action.
Ironheart In The Marvel Comics
Riri Williams’ Ironheart is one of the newest members of the Marvel canon, making her first appearance five years ago in 2016’s Invincible Iron Man. Here, a young Riri’s extreme intelligence isolates her from the hum-drum world around her. “As we fill her mind,” a psychologist told Riri’s parents, “it’s up to you ... to fill her heart and soul. You need to show her the beauty of this world. Remind her to experience life.” Riri spent much of her time building machines and tinkering with tech on her own but did have one friend named Natalie. Tragically, both Natalie and Riri’s step-dad were killed in a shooting.
Eventually, the young engineer’s high-tech hobbies caught the attention of Tony Stark, who supported her efforts with both physical tech and guidance by way of his A.I. essence (since he was in a coma at the time). It was Tony who helped Riri arrive at the alias of Ironheart, a symbolic nod to her lost loved ones and the armored suit — both literal and emotional — she wears to cope.
Ironheart Series Cast
Ironheart is still in its early stages, and only one member of the cast has been officially announced so far: Thorne as Riri Williams, aka Ironheart. Thorne, whose previous film credits include If Beale Street Could Talk and Judas and the Black Messiah, was personally picked for the role, which came to her via surprise phone call. She opened up about the experience to Empire in March, saying, “I was waiting for them to say, like, ‘Oh, we’ll send you the sides’, or, ‘Get your tape over to us.’ But there was none of that.” She continued, “It was just like, ‘Would you like to do this?’ It was probably the most unique experience I’ve ever had because there was no audition at all.”
On Feb. 9, Deadline reported Hamilton’s Anthony Ramos will star in the series in a “key role” that’s been compared to Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror. Basically, that means he might be introduced in this series and go on to have a substantial role in multiple MCU titles.
A few weeks later, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that This Is Us star Lyric Ross will take on the role of Riri’s best friend, possibly making her the newest MCU sidekick. Ross plays Deja Pearson, Randall and Beth’s teen daughter on the NBC drama, and won a Screen Actor’s Guild Award in 2019 for her work on the series, so she’ll definitely bring skills and charm to the Disney+.
Ironheart Series Plot
Plot specifics on Ironheart have yet to be released, but the series has the potential to tie into the greater MCU in a significant way. Not only is Riri connected to the high-tech world of Wakanda (more on that later), but the character also worked with Blade — yes, the vampire hunter himself — in recent comics. If that connection carries over to the Disney+ series, it could set up the upcoming Blade movie.
Because the character of Ironheart pulls inspiration (and some very advanced tech) from Iron Man, there’s reason to wonder if the series will explore Tony Stark’s legacy in depth. Riri even partnered with Pepper Potts at one point in the comics, so there’s definitely a chance we could check in on the family in Ironheart.
How Ironheart Connects To Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
In an August interview with Comic Book, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that Thorne would first appear in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever before starring in her own series. Riri and Shuri have teamed up in the comics before — as Marvel editor Alanna Smith put it, the characters “are two of the biggest brains in the Marvel Universe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll get along right away.” Plus, given Wakanda’s new commitment to outreach as explored at the end of Black Panther, it only makes sense that the nation would be seeking out the top talent around the world.
Inverse reported that the sequel would film at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On Aug. 26, Twitter user CreamOrScream posted behind-the-scenes photos of Thorne, Danai Gurira (Okoye), and Letitia Wright (Shuri) on campus. In the comics, Riri joined MIT at the age of 11; the school is also Tony Stark’s alma mater (remember his gift in Captain America: Civil War?).
Ironheart Series Trailer
Even though an Ironheart trailer may still be some time away, the Black Panther sequel will serve as an introduction to Riri’s character before she makes her Disney+ debut. So, there will be plenty to theorize about even before the official first look drops.
Ironheart Series Potential Release Date
Marvel has not yet announced a release date for Ironheart. However, given the fact that Feige confirmed Riri Williams will make her first appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, expect to see the series in the latter half of 2022 (at the earliest) or sometime in 2023.
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