Popular Comic Book Titles ‘Iron Man’ & ‘Kick-Ass’ Getting Gender Reboots


Move over Rihanna, there’s a new RiRi in town! Her name is Riri Williams, and she may not sing and dance, but she sure is super. Marvel has recently announced that the Comic Book version of Iron Man will be getting a major change, in the form of a black teenage girl.

She is a genius 15 year-old former MIT student who will be taking over from the one and only Tony Stark, who discovered her after she was kicked out of school for reverse-engineering a piece of the Iron Man Armor. She won’t necessarily go by the name ‘Iron Man’, and fans will find out what the new name will be toward the end of the Civil War II comic series where this will all take place.

In an interview with Time magazine, Iron Man creator and writer Brian Michael Bendis said he came up with the idea of the character change after working on a show in Chicago a few years ago that was centered around street violence. Although the show never made it to air, there was a story of a young girl whose life was surrounded by violence and tragedy, yet she managed to escape and go to college. He was inspired by this, which is certainly an accurate reflection on some of the real life street and gang violence happening in Chicago, and decided to incorporate it into the Iron Man story eventually.

“As we’ve been slowly and hopefully very organically adding all these new characters to the Marvel Universe, it just seemed that sort of violence inspiring a young hero to rise up and act, and using her science acumen, her natural-born abilities that are still raw but so ahead of where even Tony Stark was at that age, was very exciting to me,” he said.


Time’s Eliana Dockterman asked Brian about the push back that Marvel and some other geek culture brands have received after re-booting some of their most beloved and iconic characters as women or people of color. Whether it be Thor being a woman, or the all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ film, there is a demographic of fans who feel uncomfortable about the idea of change.

“When you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood,” he said, added that because of his involvement with the Jessica Jones series and the recreation of Spiderman as Miles Morales, a young black man, he was confident they would create something amazing in Riri Williams. As for some of the racism, Brian explains how ridiculous it is when people try to tokenize certain minorities by claiming there only needs to be one of them.

“Some of the comments online, I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound. I’m not saying if you criticize you’re a racist, but if someone writes, ‘Why do we need Riri Williams we already have Miles?’ that’s a weird thing to say. They’re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals. All I can do is state my case for the character, and maybe they’ll realize over time that that’s not the most progressive thinking,” he explained.


Interestingly, Brian admits that some of the other Avengers creators now wish they had diversified their characters earlier on, but reflecting the world around them just wasn’t what was done at the time. Thankfully, that is changing.

“Now, when you have a young woman come up to you at a signing and say how happy she is to be represented in his universe, you know you’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

With characters like Kamala Khan, female Thor (Jane Foster) and the aforementioned Miles Morales, clearly the comic landscape is changing, and despite any push back or racism from diehard fans, the major comic brands are welcoming a new, more diverse audience, with open arms.

“There was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it’s here, you’ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love. I think what’s most important is that the character is created in an organic setting. We never had a meeting saying, ‘We need to create this character.’ It’s inspired by the world around me and not seeing that represented enough in popular culture,” said Brian.


Marvel isn’t the only comic universe shaking things up. Another title which is going to lure in more female fans is ‘Kick-Ass’, by Mark Millar, owner of his own publishing line Millarworld, who told The Hollywood Reporter that he wanted to relaunch the story in a very modern way. This title, like ‘Iron Man’, will also see its main character get re-booted as a black woman, and the decision to do this was very simple for Mark.

“Comics is not short of white males aged around 30; that demographic seems pretty well catered for in popular culture. I don’t think many blonde white guys around 30 feel under-represented when they pick up comic or watch a movie. Being older or younger or female or African-American just seems more interesting to me as a writer because this character is quite unique and opens up story possibilities that haven’t been tried in almost eighty years of superhero fiction. This woman has a completely different take on ‘Kick-Ass’,” he told THR.

Mark is also the author of ‘Wanted’ and ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, both of which, along with ‘Kick-Ass’, have been made into major feature films. The only details we know so far are that the new ‘Kick-Ass’ will be set in a different city, with a whole new set of supporting characters, and will be called ‘Hit Girl’, expected to debut in January.


It seems all comic book fans, whether established or newbies, should get used to the diversity as standard, because it ain’t going away any time soon. For such a popular medium, which has become the launch pad for some of the world’s most popular movies and TV shows, to get into the game of reflecting its audiences and the world around them, we have no doubt this can only be profitable.

Moviepilot.com recently pointed out how Marvel and DC Comics are also including gay marriage and real-life LGBT issues in their stories and characters.

“Comic book stories are in many ways a reflection of the world we live in, sometimes holding a mirror to prevalent societal issues, with superheroes and villains acting as metaphors of our fears and desires,” wrote Ricky Derisz.

Next, we hope to see this diversity reflected in the major motion pictures that are adapted from these comics!





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