Why Is Riri Williams Treated Like an Infinity Stone McGuffin in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever?

All spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever follow.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now, and the sequel has plenty of highly anticipated action to fill. It’s the next blockbuster installment in one of Marvel’s greatest franchises, a tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, and a launching pad for the next installment in the ongoing MCU saga. It’s not just Namor and the people of Talokan, either laying the groundwork for the MCU version of mutantsbut it also features the latest in a long line of young, up-and-coming superheroes that have popped up throughout Season 4: Riri Williamsknown in the comics as Ironheart, will appear in his own spin-off series on Disney+ in 2023.

However, while Riri’s debut in Wakanda Forever clearly generates excitement for her own show and future appearances in future installments, the approach she uses in in a movie that goes against that goal. Not only is she a fleshed-out character that the audience can invest in, Riri (played by Dominique Thorne) becomes a reflection of all the different characters and factions in the film to fight, like the way the Infinity Stones were used in the Infinity Saga. How did this happen? Let’s take a look.

Riri Williams: A Designated Debut

Even though on the surface, even a character like Riri Williams in Wakanda Forever isn’t really dead, the way she’s integrated into the plot is so powerful. After the prequel showing T’Challa’s funeral, the story begins directly with the vibranium detector that the CIA uses in the middle of the ocean to find more pockets of the mysterious metal, only the American military will be attacked and killed. by Namor and the heroes of Talokan, an underwater world (and the MCU’s take on Atlantis). Soon, it was discovered that Riri Williams, an MIT student and engineer, designed the device. This puts her on Namor’s radar as a threat that he needs to eliminate, something he orders Shuri and the Wakandans to do — or be attacked by his army.

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However, Riri is not the only one who doesn’t know all until Shuri and Okoye show up in his bedroom, but we don’t have time to figure out who he is or how he’s dealing with things before the episode starts. The question of how the CIA obtained the spy in the first place without Riri’s knowledge is left up in the air. The longer you think about it, the more you realize that the script bends into a pretzel to justify the introduction of Riri, and the movie tries to distract the audience from this fact. quickly jumping to the chase scene where the Wakandans, the Talokanil, and the FBI are all trying to claim him. The introduction of Riri was not due to the needs of the story, but simply because of its simplicity. want to be there, even if it means leaving the place of the first job as a collection of noodles.

Questions But No Answers

While his shoehorning into the story is great, it’s a problem that could be handled if Riri gets a real arc or does a plot twist. However, he doesn’t do any of those things, but mostly acts as a chess piece for all parties involved to come to terms with each other. The idea that Riri’s device could teach the surface world about Namor’s kingdom is the reason why he suggested killing him, but ignores the fact that the CIA now knows that the ocean contains vibranium, and they are. may try to get it again. Although the CIA blames the Wakandans for the attack on their trip, the cat is already out of the bag because further investigation by the US government will undoubtedly reveal the existence of Talokan .

Shuri’s refusal to allow Namor to kill Riri is part of what’s at stake between them even though Namor says he’d rather join Wakanda than fight. At this point, Riri is not part of this discussion, but will be in Talokan’s watch for the rest of this series while other important characters discuss what to do with her. For a plot twist built around where Riri is, or who’s with her at all times, it doesn’t really care what Riri thinks about everything. Does he regret creating a browser? Is he responsible for the growing tension between Wakanda and Talokan? Is he angry at the government or his school for going after him? If there is an answer to these questions, the film does not want to explore it.

We don’t learn much about Riri’s character beyond the themes: “she’s very smart” and “she’d rather not die.” It can be argued that most of his characters appear in his solo series, he is the artist and the story takes more time to develop him. This is true, but it’s also reinforced by the fact that Wakanda Forever treats him as a plot device, not giving up his control and leaving the proper context for his introduction as a poster for his own series. What’s really weird is that Riri makes a superhero suit in the movie, but the story doesn’t inspire him to take on the Iron Man character, even though his hero identity of Ironheart is changed just him. in comics.

America Chavez and a dangerous model

None of the things we discussed about Riri and her role sank Wakanda Forever as a movie. There’s one supporting character in most of the cast which is par for the course with movies of this size. What a blessing Riri is not the first time that “the new young hero making his movie debut” has been used as a tool for heroes and villains to be captured. In fact, an example of this happened earlier this year American Chavez in Doctor Strange in the abundance of Madness.

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In that movie, America is the character Scarlet Witch wants to capture because she wants the girl’s power to capture reality in order to find a world where she can reunite with his children, Billy and Tommy. Again, Doctor Strange is trying to keep America in Wanda’s hands and stop her mission. Like the Infinity Stones, America often alternates between heroes and villains. But unlike the Stones, America isn’t an inanimate object, and she isn’t given many characters that we can learn everything about about who she is as a person. He gets a short story about how his parents died when his powers were first used, and talks about believing in himself to be able to beat Wanda in the end, but as a part of the film he will be more. of a piece of work other than three-dimensional.

The reason for this is that Riri and America are new champions who are expected to be part of the team that will carry this franchise forward for years to come. The MCU has made plans to introduce a variety of characters that may be involved in the plot. Young Avengers list, such as Billy and Tommy Maximoff, Cassie Lang, Eli Bradley, Kate Bishopa Kamala Khan. Although some of these characters have been developed better than others, especially Kate and Kamala who have led their own Disney + shows, the fact that two great young heroes (of color!) have been reduced to check out the equipment in their first film is very worrying. example. If the MCU really wants us to have access to these new heroes, it needs to find a better reason to include them in a “because the industry asked for it” story.

For more information about the movie, check out our Wakanda Forever post-credits Explainer, dig from our greatness Black Panther 2 burning questionsor read our review!

Carlos Morales writes Mass Effect books, articles and essays. You can follow his edits above Twitter.


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