It’s been a persistent question for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans: What will Marvel do when Robert Downey Jr. decides to retire as Iron Man, either because he gets too old to play a superhero or too bored with the character or too rich to be wooed from his Tony Stark-esque mansion with promises of tens of millions of dollars? A new storyline in the pages of Marvel Comics suggests one possible solution.

As revealed by Time Magazine, in the fallout of Marvel’s current Civil War II crossover, the comic-book version of Tony Stark will retire from his superhero alter ego. But Iron Man isn’t going away, he’s just getting an upgrade (and a new gender). Riri Williams, a 15-year-old science genius who was recently introduced in the pages of Invincible Iron Man, will assume the Iron Man mantle.


Series writer Brian Michael Bendis said this of the origins of this new character:

One of the things that stuck with me when I was working in Chicago a couple of years ago on a TV show that didn’t end up airing was the amount of chaos and violence. And this story of this brilliant, young woman whose life was marred by tragedy that could have easily ended her life — just random street violence—and went off to college was very inspiring to me. I thought that was the most modern version of a superhero or superheroine story I had ever heard. And I sat with it for awhile until I had the right character and the right place.

Bendis doesn’t reveal exactly why Tony quits or exactly what he’ll be doing after comics’ Civil War II wraps up later this year. He also doesn’t discuss the possibility of a cinematic version of Riri Williams down the line. But I have a feeling Marvel zombies are going to be wondering about that for years to come.

Browse a Gallery of Every Iron Man Armor:


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