Ironheart makes her MCU debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and fans will want to know how the movie adapts her best Marvel Comics.
Riri Williams makes her debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The movie adapts her best Marvel Comics somewhat, taking core ingredients from her origin and remixing them for live-action. The comics paint a picture for MCU fans curious about how the character continues in the upcoming Ironheart Disney+ streaming series.
Ironheart debuted relatively recently in the Marvel Universe, making her first appearance in Invincible Iron Man #7 in 2016. Her leap to live-action confirms how compelling a character she is, and her comic book storylines forecast a strong MCU future for the character, played by Dominique Thorne in the movie and eventual series.
Ironheart, co-created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato, makes her first cameo appearance in Invincible Iron Man #7. Her first full appearance comes in issue #9, and it's a debut for the agents. She confronts officials from her school in her homemade Iron Man armor, inspired by the original.
The new movie adapts her being chased out of school and getting in her original self-made armor, but so far, the connections between Ironheart and Iron Man remain nebulous in the MCU.
A link may still exist between Riri Williams and Tony Stark in the MCU, and that makes Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2 #13 essential reading. This issue brings them together for the first time, turning Stark into a mentor for the younger inventor. He sanctions her being a superhero after discovering her work and approving of it.
Their relationship goes through many twists and turns. Such a connection proves challenging in the MCU due to Stark's death in Avengers: Endgame, but the comics already accounted for that.
Invincible Iron Man reset with a new volume and new issue #1 as well as a new status quo for Ironheart. Tony's role as mentor evolves, with him now assisting her as a holographic A.I. avatar, not unlike J.A.R.V.I.S. in the MCU. This comic begins a critical dynamic likely to pay off in some form in live-action.
Numerous powerful Iron Man variants exist in Marvel Comics, but the holographic one may be the most significant for the MCU. The movies already established Tony created holograms to leave behind as messengers and he may do so again with Riri.
Ironheart goes from her DIY armor to a much more advanced Wakandan set fairly quickly in the new movie, but in the comics, it takes a little longer. Her slow build to her iconic red and gold armor pays off in Invincible Iron Man Vol. 3 #3 when she puts on the suit for the first time to battle gigantic demons.
This comic holds other value as well for Marvel fans as it represents her first meeting with Pepper Potts. If Tony Stark does factor into Riri's future in the MCU, Pepper may as well.
The Champions certainly factor in Ironheart's live-action future. Ironheart meets The Champions in Invincible Iron Man Vol. 3 #6 and gets an offer to join the teenage superhero group, which includes Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, and other characters. The Champions dramatically open up Riri's world, making this a pivotal issue.
Ms. Marvel's best comic book storylines involve The Champions and Ironheart, making the likelihood this comic book team makes its way to the screen shortly.
Secret Empire hinges on the reveal that Steve Rogers had been a Hydra agent all along, among Marvel Comics' most controversial retcons. While the MCU may avoid the storyline, it plays a prominent role in Ironheart's comic story. In Secret Empire #2, she joins her fellow Champions to help Black Widow kill Steve Rogers.
With the stakes including democracy and freedom, Ironheart initially signs on. She gets cold feet as the operation proceeds and ultimately backs out as the attempt on Rogers fails in deadly fashion.
Sacha Baron Cohen will reportedly play Mephisto, among the most powerful magical beings in Marvel Comics, in the upcoming Ironheart series. Mephisto's appearance in the series likely raises a few eyebrows among fans, but a connection exists in the comics. Mephisto's son, Blackheart, turns Ironheart against her friends in Champions #10.
Blackheart capitalizes on Riri's discomfort with Viv Vision's feelings for her. He manipulates her anger and doubts into open animosity, though once Riri gets a chance to clear things up with Viv, she breaks his hold on her.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever leveraged Ironheart's connection with Shuri in Marvel Comics. That plays out in Ironheart #9 when she travels to Wakanda and teams up with Shuri and the Dora Milaje to stop the Ten Rings from opening the Wellspring. The Ten Rings connection makes the comic even more compelling.
The Ten Rings organization plays a prominent role in the MCU and could potentially factor into the Ironheart series if Riri's interest in advanced technology leads her down murky paths. In later comics, she infiltrates the organization.
Infinity Countdown: Champions #2 presents an epic battle between The Champions and Thanos. Unfortunately for Ironheart, Thanos proves his standing among the most powerful cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe. He destroys her extremely durable armor with a single energy blast, leaving her utterly vulnerable.
While a showdown between Thanos and Ironheart probably stays in the comics, this shocking and consequential event could play out with another powerful villain like Kang the Conqueror.
A storyline the MCU likely adapts reaches its epic conclusion in Champions #5. Outlawed sees the government ban teenage superheroes after a disastrous battle leaves Ms. Marvel gravely wounded. The Champions go on the run from C.R.A.D.L.E., the highly equipped agency dedicated to apprehending them.
Ironheart takes center stage in the story arc, with her teammates suspecting she's a government mole. This turns out not to be the case, and she leads the team in an epic clash with C.R.A.D.L.E. that may already have its origins in live-action with Damage Control seeking Kamala Khan.
NEXT: 10 Best Black Panther Comics Characters Not In The MCU
DARBY HARN is the author of the sci-fi superhero novels Ever The Hero, The Judgment Of Valene, and Nothing Ever Ends. He talks all things pop culture on The Shelf Warmers podcast.