It's not just Jim Rhodes: even Tony Stark's getting kicked to the curb
There’s a new Iron Man. Well, Iron Man for now. She’s still working on the name. The events at the end of the comic book event series Civil War II will result in Tony Stark stepping out of the Iron Man suit and a new character, Riri Williams, taking over, Marvel tells TIME. (Note: Tony’s departure doesn’t mean you know the end to Civil War II yet.)It makes little difference whether we know the ending to Civil War's sequel. What's pretty apparent for now is that it's just another cheap excuse for leftist politics and putting characters of difference race/sexual orientation into the roles of established white protagonists no matter how contrived it happens to be. Interesting that for now, the new lead is using "Man" in the name, not unlike how Jane Foster was depicted using Thor as a name when Marvel shoved her into the Norse Thunder God's role. It suggests they really don't have faith in their direction to sell long term, leaving us to wonder why they go to such lengths to spend all that money for nothing in marketing that's already weak.
And for now, if there's something we do know about Civil War 2, it's that Jim Rhodes was knocked off to create a conflict between Tony Stark and Carol Danvers.
How did you come up with the character of Riri Williams?I'm sorry, but none of their steps have been very organic. Certainly not when they disqualify Thor by depicting Nick Fury whispering in his ear. And the premise for Civil War 2 suffers from being a cliche.
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.
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.
The background written for Williams has potential in itself, but forcing her into an established character's role so obviously and so quickly does not. And why does Bendis sound like he's putting down Tony rather than describing the new lead as bearing talents to rival his?
What have we seen of her so far in the Iron Man comics?Say, is he making Tony out to sound like an idiot by talking to himself? In that case, why not thought balloons? Oh, that's right, it wouldn't look cinematic enough, which is just one of the problems with modern superhero tales. No surprise a company that took to making Tony look like a jerk since the first Civil War would do something almost as tasteless.
In the latest issue of Iron Man, Tony is in a lab talking to himself, and he’s already aware that there’s some student at M.I.T. that’s reverse-engineered one of his old armors all by herself in her dorm room. He’s aware of her immediately.
What’s been the reception of the character so far (before this announcement)?Yeah, trust the man who said he likes breaking other people's toys when he says he's got the backing of an audience that could actually be less than a million. Has he ever shown them plausible character drama, rather than some trash where Scarlet Witch is turned into a madwoman? Not really.
Thankfully because of my involvement in the creation of Miles Morales and Jessica Jones and some other characters, it’s getting the benefit of the doubt from even the most surly fans. There are fans who say, “Show us the new stuff,” and then there are fans who say, “Don’t do anything different from when I was a kid.” So when you’re introducing new characters, you’re always going to have people getting paranoid about us ruining their childhood.
I’ve been down this road with Miles Morales, Jessica Jones, Maria Hill. I knew I was in good hands with Mike Deodato and other artists who are helping visualize Riri.
Marvel Comics’ diverse new cast has stirred some controversy among a subset of fans.Ah, here's where he's pulling out a race card, backed by Time's superficial description of the situation, and implying anybody critical of forcibly shoving out an established lead as though they were worthless to start with is just a racist. Let us be clear. The smart reader of superhero tales isn't against adding new characters of different races. What we'd prefer is that the new characters are created with their very own superhero roles, and that replacement of older heroes wasn't done so deliberately for the sake of publicity and ultra-leftist politics. Bendis can say what he likes, but I think it's only fair to say they did have some kind of discussion about replacing the established in their own superhero roles with "diverse" characters. Even Rhodey appears to be a victim of that.
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.
But increasingly we see less and less of that. Once Miles hit, and Kamala Khan hit and female Thor hit — 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.
Why did it take so long to turn the Avengers from a team of mostly white dudes into a more diverse array of characters?This is insulting even to the people he claims he's representing. Do they actually want the older heroes treated like rags? Is that even a healthy way of thinking? No. And to say they weren't reflecting the world about them is ludicrous too. Besides, if they really do want to reflect this wide world, they'd conceive diverse recurring co-stars as much - and maybe more - than costumed superheroes. To just conceive replacements for costumed heroes is lethargic and uncreative. Yet it's clear Time has no issue with that, since they obviously don't care for the older material or the franchise either. Nor do they have any issues with company wide crossovers draining creative freedom or Marvel's transformation into a closed office serving a small group of writers and editors.
Talking to any of the older creators, it’s the thing they said they wish they’d done more of — reflecting the world around them. It just wasn’t where the world was at at that time. 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.
What led Tony Stark to a place where he’s stepping out of the suit?Curious they don't mention that Jim Rhodes is apparently the sacrifice on the alter of forced stunts. And who are his biological parents now? I'm guessing Howard and Maria Stark are still no longer canon.
We’re in the middle of a very big Tony Stark storyline — actually three storylines converging. His best friend died, his company is collapsing and he’s finding out who his biological parents were all at the same time. That’s stressful for a character who is wired the way Tony is wired and has dependency issues the way Tony does.
Tony is also a master at not paying attention to the thing that’s most important and distracting himself with Avengers stuff. How that all shakes out such that Tony is no longer in the armor? You’ll have to wait to find out for the end of Civil War II. But it does create a path or Riri Williams, who Tony will know and will be interacting with very shortly in the comics.
Bendis is also once again putting down Tony as a jerk, and while he may not admit it, I'm sure that's deliberate too. Why, how is concentrating on Avengers "stuff" a bad thing? He's just trying to put down a famous creation for the sake of it. And in the end, they've only added another publicity stunt to their current MO without ensuring any talented writing, or guarantee that all these steps will come with long term interest.