This week, Marvel announced that the mantle of Iron Man, a character made famous both in the printed comics and on the big screen as a mega-rich white dude by the name of Tony Stark, would soon be held by a 15-year-old black girl named Riri Williams, a super smart M.I.T. student who just so happens to make Iron Man suits in her bedroom. While all of the details haven't been divulged yet, Marvel Editor-in-chief Axel Alonso says that this is a part of their Fall 2016 event, Divided We Stand. The series, Invincible Iron Man, will be penned by Brian Michael Bendis, who you might remember as being the same writer who introduced Miles Morales to the world as the new Spider-Man. While some (present company included) wish that these stories featuring people of color would be penned by people of color, this is Bendis' twist, and a series he was already writing; he's got it.
If you were on Twitter when the fit hit the shan, there was indeed outcry (not as much as word of a similar change to Mark Millar's Kick-Ass that was recently announced), with an array of comments from butt hurt comic book fans and fake mad heads the world over. If we took some time to think back, over the last decade—and even more so in the last few years—Marvel has pulled similar shifts, where either the race or gender (or both!) of a huge, mainstay character has been changed. While Marvel still has a ways to go in terms of progress—a) they need to bring more diverse writers into their fold and b) give these non-white male characters their own, awesome original characters—it's hard to turn your nose up at seeing a black boy becoming Spider-Man, or a Muslim girl do the damn thing in her own series. In a post-Obama world, it's important that kids of all colors see larger-than-life heroes who look more like them.
Here's a look at how Marvel Comics has followed through on that so far, by switching up the makeup of their iconic characters.