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“Ironheart” and “Armor Wars” set for Disney+

If the slew of new Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 films and original series revealed at last year’s D23 Expo wasn’t enough, three MORE series were announced at Disney Investor Day (this morning Singapore time) – Ironheart, Armor Wars and Secret Invasion.

Ironheart is the story of Riri Williams – a super-genius inventor who designs a powered exoskeleton by reverse-engineering Iron Man’s.

Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr., Riri’s comic debut was in Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2 #7, which ends with the reveal that she is building the exoskeleton in her dorm room in MIT.

After Tony’s apparent death at the end of Civil War II (the less said about that the better) Riri took on the mantle of the Invincible Iron Man complete with her own #1 issue!

Cover of Invincible Iron Man (2016) #1 featuring Riri Williams as Ironheart
Credit: Marvel.com

Ironheart’s creation was controversial because in 2016, Marvel Comics did not have a single black female writer on staff! To kinda make things worse, Riri was consistently “haunted” by a Tony Stark A.I., one she describes as a “techno-ghost”.

Fortunately, all of this was later rectified in 2018, when sociologist and writer Eve L. Ewing gave Ironheart a much-needed independent voice in her own solo title. I seriously hope it’s this series (with the new outfit designed by Kevin Libranda) that inspires the adaptation.

Cover of Ironheart #1 featuring Riri Williams as Ironheart
Credit: Marvel.com

In the upcoming Disney+ series, Riri will be played by Dominique Thorne (If Beale Street Could Talk).

The Cornell University graduate is an exciting casting choice, as she combines a love for acting with her academic background in human development, and an all-round desire to advocate for the work they want to do.

I can’t wait to see what she brings to Ironheart, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first black female lead.

Credit: Cornell Research, photo by Dave Burbank

The other exhilarating announcement for me was Armor Wars, an adaptation of the classic Iron Man storyline from 1987-1988 which basically answers the question: What if the Iron Man technology fell into the wrong hands? (Of course you could say that it was never in the RIGHT hands to begin with but that’s a rant for another day lol)

Armor Wars stars Don Cheadle, who will be reprising his role as Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes aka War Machine. While War Machine was a supporting cast in the original storyline, he’ll be taking over Tony Stark as the lead in the Disney+ Original Series.

Personally? This would be an interesting departure from the tried-and-tested storyline as well as its subsequent animated adaptations in 1995’s Iron Man and 2011’s Iron Man: Armored Adventures. In the original classic, after discovering that Justin Hammer stole Stark technology and is arming supervillains, Stark is motivated to hunt down the villains and disable them.

Initially driven by guilt at the damage his tech causes, Stark eventually descends into paranoia. This leads him to assume all exoskeletons have Stark tech, including that of government superhero Stingray.

Iron Man #226 (1987) Credit: Marvel

If Armor Wars took place before the events of Avengers: Endgame, I’ve no doubt Stark’s MCU personality would go down the same path, while including copious amounts of the smarmy arrogance that people seem to love about Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark.

In contrast, Rhodey is a very different character from Stark, especially in the MCU. He’s consistently depicted as being responsible and disciplined, even to a fault, and after his serious injuries in Captain America: Civil War and his subsequent rehabilitation in Avengers: Infinity War, Rhodey also becomes a much more compassionate person, able to appreciate that the rules don’t trump doing the right thing.

Credit: Marvel.com

If I can dream – I would hope that Rhodey’s role in Armor Wars is that of a more nuanced hero – recognising that the stolen Stark tech isn’t always used for evil. I just hope he’s not presented as black-and-white law enforcement – and maybe we’ll also get a chance to explore his paralysis more.

As for which characters we can expect to see in Armor Wars, I am hoping to see:

  • Ghost (played by Hannah John-Kamen in Ant-Man and the Wasp)
    It was Ghost who stole Stark’s tech in the animated adaptations (in the classic storyline, Spymaster was the thief).
  • Beetle (played by Claire Rushbrooke in Spider-Man: Far From Home)
    Janice Lincoln was a member of Quentin Beck’s crew of disgruntled Stark Industries employees. In the comics, Lincoln takes on the identity of the armored supervillain Beetle. If Lincoln is expected to play a big role in Armor Wars, I think she should be recast – Janice Lincoln is the daughter of Tombstone, who is black.
  • Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2)
    More. Sam. Rockwell. ’nuff said.

For those who were worried that the MCU couldn’t continue without Tony Stark (yes, all 2 of you), I hope the announcement of Ironheart and Armor Wars proves that the MCU able to continue after his death. And that his legacy – both good and bad! – are in the good hands of Ironheart and War Machine.

No release date for Ironheart and Armor Wars have been announced, but it is likely that they’re set for a late 2022 release along with Secret Invasion, Moon Knight and She-Hulk.

Disney+ launches in Singapore on 23 February, 2021.

Peter Lin

His teenage years spent nursing a giant man-crush on Steve Rogers, the first Captain America, Peter naturally found himself drawn to many other heroes who depicted strong, manly qualities, including the honour-bound warrior Worf, first Klingon in Starfleet, and the muscular rock hard abs of The Thing.

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