We may still be a year or so out from Marvel’s Ironheart series, but Riri Williams has officially arrived. She makes her debut in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and according to star Dominique Thorne, the movie is a pretty good indication of what’s to come.
In the film, we meet Riri (Thorne) at MIT. She’s been tracked down by Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) because, as it turns out, she’s the mysterious scientist who managed to successfully build a device that can detect vibranium through any materials. Of course, that includes in the ocean, which puts her square in the crosshairs of Talokan leader Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and obviously, makes her a priority asset for the United States.
It’s Shuri and her comrades’ hope that they can bring Riri back to Wakanda and keep her safe, while simultaneously keeping any plans for vibranium detectors out of enemy hands. Riri’s tech is the direct cause of a majority piece of the plot of “Wakanda Forever,” and she quickly became a standout character for fans. And though Thorne can’t give away exact details on how the movie sets up her Disney+ series, she’s confident that if Riri found love here, fans will be all in on her series.
“In ‘Wakanda Forever’ we are most certainly — we’re walking into Riri Williams in the midst of her experience, and it just so happens that that experience is taking her totally out of her world in which she was quite comfortable and into several worlds that are not her own,” Thorne told TheWrap. “But that she does indeed have to reckon with, because it is her own ambition that has created the circumstances that that these folks find themselves in, herself included.”
She continued, “And I think that if folks can see that and be interested in her enough, or anticipate her enough, or be excited by her enough as she navigates someone else’s world, I think that they may be quite satisfied getting to peel back the curtain and take a deeper dive into Riri Williams as she exists in her own world.”
What exactly does her own world look like? Well, as we mentioned above, she’s a student at MIT. When Shuri and Okoye find her, Riri is running a business doing students’ homework for them, and making great money. She’s built her own workspace in a warehouse — oh, and she’s built her own rough version of something similar to an Iron Man suit.
It’s all pretty in line with the comics, wherein Williams is a teen prodigy attending MIT who builds her own suit by reverse-engineering Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit design. Williams is also a genius like Tony, though Thorne would note that she only needs three words — as opposed to Tony Stark’s four descriptors: genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist — to describe the character: “Bad girl genius.”
In the comics, Pepper Potts mentors Riri in a similar fashion to how Tony took Peter Parker under his wing in the MCU, providing her with resources and a suit AI. At this point though, it’s unclear if Gwyneth Paltrow will appear as Pepper Potts in Disney+’s “Ironheart” series.
What we do know though is that suit Riri wears in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is fully practical — and at the moment, potentially incomplete.
“The Mark 1 is a fully practical suit. There were real, like, quick-release, air-playing pieces in there,” Thorne revealed. “It was a hodgepodge, truly. The way that it looks is really what it was. Which is also such — what an insight into the workings of Riri Williams’ mind and its efficiency.”
She added, “Of course, you know, where they could spare my physicality, they did, and swapped out lighter pieces where it made sense. But in total, I just learned halfway through filming ‘Ironheart’ that that suit was a total of 52 and a half pounds. And that was without one piece.”
You can watch TheWrap’s full interview with Dominique Thorne in the video above.