Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams to Debut in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Exclusive)

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has added Dominique Thorne to its cast, the actress who will be playing Ironheart in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thorne had previously been announced as the MCU's Riri Williams for the hero's self-titled Ironheart series coming to Disney+. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has confirmed to that Thorne will make her MCU debut as Ironheart ahead of the release of her self-titled series.

"We're shooting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, right now, and the character of Riri Williams, you will meet in Black Panther 2 first," Feige said in an interview surrounding the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. "She started shooting, I think, this week before her Ironheart series."

In the Marvel Comics universe, Riri Williams is a teen-aged engineering genius who designs her own version of an Iron Man suit. Following her father's death, she lives with her mother and her aunt in Chicago. At 15 years old, she gets herself accepted into MIT. It is there that she builds her own version of an Iron Man-style armor. After using the armor to stop two escaped prison inmates, Tony Stark reaches out to her and gives her his blessing to become a new, armored hero, yet there is no indication that Robert Downey Jr. or Tony Stark will be a part of the character's story in the MCU right now.

The character first appeared in comics in cameo form for 2016's Invincible Iron Man #7. She soon after made a full appearance in Invincible Iron Man #9. Marvel Studios boss announced Thorne as Riri Wiliams during Disney's Investor Day meeting back in December of 2020. How big of a role Williams will play in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is currently unclear.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever recently began production in Atlanta. Ryan Coogler returned to direct, following the huge success of the first Black Panther movie from 2018. In the wake of T'Challa actor Chadwick Boseman's passing, the original cast, including Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Daniel Kaluuya Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o, and Martin Freeman, are expected to be returning. Additional new cast members include Tenoch Huerta as Namor, as well as yet to be cast roles for Marvel Comics characters Attuma and Namora.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be Ironheart's live-action debut. The character has appeared in animated shows including in Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron and the Spider-Man episode "Amazing Friends." She's also appeared in Marvel Entertainment video games includes Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Avengers Academy, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, and Marvel Strike Force. She is one of several young heroes to be making their way to the MCU, following the additions of Cassie Lang in the Ant-Man movies, Billy and Tommy Maximoff in WandaVision, Eli Bradley in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Kid Loki in Loki, and Yelena Belova in Black Widow. Still to come are Kate Bishop in Hawkeye and Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is set to hit theaters on July 8, 2022. Ironheart does not yet have a premiere date on Disney+. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens in theaters on September 3.

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(Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)