The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to enter Phase 5, and it’s poised to introduce some huge characters and stories to the world created by Marvel Studios. With Phase 4 being the only MCU arc where there wasn’t an Avengers film, there were plenty of solo outings as well as new characters introduced in sequels. One of the most intriguing, relatively less-known characters coming out soon is Ironheart, who is set to have her own Disney Plus streaming series. But with a name so similar to Iron Man, what does Ironheart bring to the table in the MCU, and what is the main difference?
Who is Ironheart, and Does This Mean Iron Man is Replaced?
Ironheart, aka Riri Williams, was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato in 2016 leading into Civil War II for the comics at the time. She, much like the original Iron Man Tony Stark, showed signs of being a genius at a young age, but she canonically was made out to be much more introverted as a character. As part of a personal project, she reverse-engineered an older Iron Man armor model to create her suit of armor, which turned out wildly successful. She has offered her prodigious young talents similarly to Spider-Man in the past and has even assisted in growing Wakanda’s technological advances.
Iron Man of course will be respected for his legacy. Tony Stark’s character will forever be beloved in the MCU canon, and the purpose is not to create a carbon copy of the character, but one inspired by his innovations. That being said, In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Riri (portrayed by Dominique Thorne) is part of the plot in how her technological discoveries have unearthed Wakandan secrets, making her an asset but also putting her in enemy crosshairs.
Riri will feature heavily in the film’s plot and will join the superhero scene at a much younger age, being introduced at 19, compared to Tony Stark who was entering middle age when he first donned the suit. While the two have a knack for attracting trouble through their innovations, the similarities fade quickly. Iron Man’s time has come and gone, while Ironheart’s is just beginning. Another enticing factor is, the characters she will meet along the way are going to be huge for the MCU. Her Disney Plus series is expected to debut in late 2023.
Ironheart Will Also Feature Some of the Most Anticipated MCU Villains
The Ironheart series will have her character encounter Parker Robbins (portrayed by Anthony Ramos,) a fantastic MCU villain who takes on the identity of The Hood. This character has been eagerly anticipated by our community for quite some time, a self-actualized villain looking to take in other outcasts to lash out at the world. His abilities are tied to dark magic, canonically originating from Dormammu, who has also appeared in the MCU. Although, if the casting rumors are correct, Sacha Baron Cohen is potentially set to portray Mephisto and it could be a retcon where he grants Robbins his powers.
This is a pretty significant way to set Ironheart apart from Iron Man in the MCU. One of Tony Stark’s most unfortunate drawbacks was that, despite having some really cool actors attached to the roles, his villains just weren’t quite as interesting as other heavy-hitters in the MCU rogues gallery like Killmonger. Setting up some compelling, layered villains, especially for a streaming series, could make for a great introduction to Riri Williams and how she will grow into her role.
Either way, this is huge for the Ironheart series. The Hood is an exceptional, complex villain, while Mephisto is one of the most aggressively demanded appearances for a villain in the MCU, with fans hoping and speculating for an appearance in WandaVision, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and even She-Hulk recently. If those hold with a late-season appearance by Mephisto, we could be in for a great ride.
Ironheart is set to premiere in late 2023 as part of the MCU’s Phase 5, but you can see Riri Williams portray the character in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, out now.
- This article was updated on November 10th, 2022