Next year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be an emotional watch. The story will focus on the off-screen death of Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa, with his friends and family struggling to process it, figuring out how to honor him, and finding someone to take up the Black Panther mantle. But beyond that, it’s also going to introduce a character who’s likely to have a big MCU future: Dominique Thorne’s Riri Williams/Ironheart.
The production has moved to Cambridge to shoot on the MIT campus recently, with images emerging of Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright in costume on set. Now we have our first good look at Riri. Check her out:
Ironheart is a relatively new character in the Marvel Universe, with her origin seeing her reverse-engineering Tony Stark’s armor. This puts her on Stark’s radar, but recognizing her skills, intelligence and seeing some of himself in her, he agrees to help her in her nascent superhero career (even going so far as to create an AI version of himself that fulfills the same function as JARVIS).
Given the events of Endgame, her MCU story will be different, though it’s possible that Happy Hogan or Pepper Potts may assist her with Stark tech in the same way they did with Spider-Man in Far From Home. In addition, if Marvel Studios wanted to bring Robert Downey Jr back, having an AI copy of him helping Riri would be a way to do it while respecting his character arc.
At this point, it seems inevitable that we’re heading for a ‘Young Avengers’ team. Upcoming movies and TV shows are introducing a new generation of heroes: with Riri likely to team up with Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, Kathryn Newton’s Cassie Lang, and Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop at some point.
After her introduction in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Thorne will go on to star in her own Disney Plus show Ironheart, which will lead into Armor Wars with Don Cheadle.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on July 8, 2022.