Iron Man’s selfless sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame carries a profound impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Five and the origin story of a new character. Ever since his debut in 2008’s Iron Man, Tony Stark, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., has been a central figure in the MCU, leaving an indelible mark. His pivotal role extended to being a founding member of The Avengers, further solidifying his significance.
The climactic showdown in Avengers: Endgame sees Tony Stark employing the Infinity Stones to obliterate Thanos and his forces, saving the universe but sacrificing his own life. Despite his death, Iron Man’s legacy continues to reverberate, notably through his protégé, Peter Parker, also known as Spider-Man (Tom Holland). Additionally, the introduction of Riri Williams, aka Ironheart (Dominique Thorne), in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever adds another layer, as her origin story is tied to Tony Stark’s legacy.
In the comics, Riri Williams, a brilliant young inventor, crafts her Iron Man-like suit, gaining Tony’s mentorship and becoming Ironheart. The MCU adaptation alters some elements, making Riri an older MIT student. However, Tony’s death alters her relationship with him. While Spider-Man had a profound mentor-student connection with Tony, Riri’s connection is more indirect, observing his achievements and heroism from a distance.
Given the intricate web of events in the Infinity Saga, Riri’s introduction in Phase Three might have been overshadowed. Factors such as the Sokovia Accords, Tony’s guidance of Peter Parker, the rise of Thanos, and the Endgame battle pose challenges. Instead, her introduction is strategically placed in Phase Five. Although she won’t experience direct mentorship like Spider-Man, Riri’s journey is crafted to align with the overarching MCU narrative.
The adaptation process involves adjustments from the source material, and Riri’s path as Ironheart is a prime example. Her independent progression, leading to her becoming a superheroine in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, sets the stage for her solo story in the Ironheart series on Disney+. While Tony Stark guiding Riri’s journey would have been compelling, the MCU’s unfolding storyline ensures the best possible trajectory for her character in this evolving superhero saga.