Comparing Riri Williams to Tony Stark

Marvel's Ironheart Explained: Who Is Riri Williams?

credit: Marvel Comics

Trying to compare Riri Williams to Tony Stark in terms of who’s the better iron-suited hero is kind of tough since claiming that Iron Man is still and always will be better is bound to be called out as sexist while stating that Riri is taking over might be deemed acceptable but can become a serious virtue signal at some point. What’s really desired is to acknowledge that, given time, Ironheart might very well be a suitable replacement for Iron Man, who spent decades as an Avenger and as a solo hero that did a lot for the Marvel Universe and went through adversity the likes of which Riri hasn’t known yet. Some might want to dispute that claim by stating that Riri is a young woman of color who is ‘oppressed’ and has to work twice as hard to get what she wants, but the truth is that in the comics, Riri is not oppressed and is actually a bit of a thief since she steals Tony’s tech from school and has to use it to engineer her own suit. But while there are downsides to Ironheart’s character, there are a lot of upsides, even if a couple of those won’t be explored in the MCU

Tony Stark Discovers a New Element Scene - Iron-Man 2 (2010) Movie CLIP HD  - YouTube

credit: MCU

Both Riri and Tony are highly intelligent, but comparing them is tough due to their different ages. 

One has to remember that these two grew up in very different eras, meaning that they had access to very different types of tech. While they were both intelligent from a very young age, Tony did have access to less advanced materials than Riri, meaning that the things he often built were less impressive in this day and age but were no less impressive back in his day. The fact that both of them were seen to produce the type of inventive ability that is uncommon in younger children is amazing enough, but trying to compare people from different eras is next to impossible since trying to make such a comparison is easy when generalizing, but tougher when one is attempting to compare their achievements to each other.

Riri had less to work with than Tony, but she also wasn’t under duress when making her suit. 

If we’re talking about the MCU, then Riri had a LOT more to work with than Tony, meaning that he had to use whatever materials he had at the moment. Plus, he was under constant threat and had to deal with lugging an actual battery around in order to survive. Building his first Iron Man suit out of parts he had available at the time is a little more impressive, but then again, Riri had to scrounge for her parts as well. The difference is she wasn’t under pressure to build something in order to save her own life and had a pretty big headstart thanks to the tech she took. She’s still an impressive human being, but when it comes to ingenuity, it does feel that Tony has her beat by just a little since he’s had to think on his feet more than a few times. Riri is a smart individual, and she has the potential to grow, but as of now, Tony is still a little quicker on his feet. 

Who Is Riri 'Ironheart' Williams? The BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER  Character, Explained - Nerdist

credit: Marvel Comics

Riri did have to create her suit based on Tony’s tech. 

Some might think that it’s sad that this is one of the main points that a lot of people come back to, but when all is said and done, Tony is the one that came up with the idea of becoming Iron Man, and as such, he’s a little more original and intelligent for the design. To think that someone would come along and try to ‘improve’ upon that design isn’t a bad thing, in fact, it’s a sign of appreciation and innovation working together. But the truth is that Riri didn’t come up with the idea of being an iron-suited hero. She had to have someone to follow when it came to this idea. That doesn’t make her any less, but it does make the case for Tony being a little more intelligent since he did come up with the idea, and Riri copied it. 

The MCU did away with the male mentor in favor of having a female mentor. Take that as you will.

Tony Stark has always been known for playing the long game when it comes to planning, and many of his inventions have proven this, such as his AI program that ended up becoming Riri’s mentor. Why the MCU saw fit to change this isn’t hard to guess, especially since Wakanda Forever was a very female-centric movie in which women were allowed to be strong and capable while men were little more than swaggering individuals that didn’t have much else to offer. But would Tony have been a better mentor than Shuri? It’s hard to say. 

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