The Marvel Cinematic Universe will have one of its top players from behind-the-camera helm one of its newest projects for the Disney+ streaming service. Ryan Coogler, director and writer of 2018’s top grossing movie Black Panther, has been officially named as the executive producer for the platform’s new series, Ironheart.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Sam Bailey and Angela Barnes have also joined Ironheart as the series’ directors. Bailey, producer and director on the last season of Netflix’s Dear White People, will direct the first three episodes of the show. And Barnes, who’s worked on the acclaimed FX series Atlanta, is going to direct episodes 4-6 of Ironheart.
The titular character is actually Riri Williams, a Black 15-year-old genius who takes up the mantle of Iron Man after Tony Stark. She will be played by Dominique Thorne, who made her feature film debut in the 2018 movie If Beale Street Could Talk and appeared in last year’s Judas and the Black Messiah.
Last August, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed to ComicBook.com that fans should get their first glimpse of Thorne as Riri in the upcoming Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever, currently scheduled for release in November 2022.
Proximity Media, Coogler’s entertainment company, is taking charge of the project. Sev Ohanian and Coogler’s wife Zinzi will also take be exec producers on behalf of Proximity as well. Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum and Zoie Nagelhout will operate in the same capacity for Marvel.
Anthony Ramos, who played the lead role of Usnavi de la Vega in the 2021 film version of In the Heights, will allegedly have a yet-unspecified-but-major part in the series. The Hollywood Reporter suspects the 30-year-old Brooklynite will be cast as the series’ main villain, and he spilled some of the beans when speaking to Extra at last month’s Vanity Fair Oscars party. “It’s incredible people, [head writer] Chinaka Hodge, Ryan Coogler and just, like, a dope squad…,” he said at the time, “you know, Dominique Thorne… and I just feel blessed and grateful.”
Brian Michael Bendis, creator of Ironheart and writer for the Iron Man comic series, spoke with Time six years ago about the need for a character like Riri, around the same time when Tony Stark found himself impressed with the intelligence of his fellow MIT alum as well. “Some of the comments online [from MCU fans], I don’t think people even realize how racist they sound,” Bendis noted.
“I’m not saying if you criticize you’re a racist, but if someone writes, ‘Why do we need Riri Williams we already have Miles [Morales?’ well] that’s a weird thing to say. They’re individuals just like Captain America and Cyclops are individuals… But increasingly we see less and less of that,” Bendis also said, adding that “there was a part of an audience crawling through the desert looking for an oasis when it came to representation, and now that it’s here, you’ll go online and be greeted with this wave of love.”