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

Full cast following Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters, and the highly anticipated sequel has a lot of roles it needed to fill. It was supposed to be the next blockbuster installment in one of Marvel’s most important franchises, a touching tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, and the launch of the next phase of the MCU’s ongoing saga. It’s not just introducing Namor and the people of Talokan, either lay the foundation for the MCU version of the mutantsbut it also introduces the latest in a long line of young, up-and-coming superheroes that have been appearing in Episode 4: Riri Williamsknown in the comics as Ironheart, who will appear in his own spin-off series on Disney+ in 2023.

However, despite Riri’s debut in Wakanda Forever apparently intended to generate excitement for her show and subsequent appearances in upcoming teams, the way she was used in the movie contradicts that goal. Instead of being a complete person that the audience can be invested in, Riri (played by Dominique Thorne) is instead treated as a tool for all the various characters and groups in the film to fight, similar to how the Infinity Stones are used in the Infinity Saga. How does this happen? Let’s take a look.

Riri Williams: Chosen Debut

While I’m talking, including a character like Riri Williams in Wakanda Forever isn’t a doomed prospect, the way it’s presented in the application is incredibly forced. After a prologue showing T’Challa’s funeral, the story kicks off with a vibranium detector deployed by the CIA in the middle of the ocean to try to find more packets of the mysterious metal, only for the American expedition to be ambushed and killed. it’s Namor and the heroes of Talokan, an underwater civilization (and the MCU’s take on Atlantis). Soon enough, it was revealed that Riri Williams, an MIT student and engineering prodigy, was the one who designed the device. This puts him on Namor’s radar as a threat he must eliminate, something he orders Shuri and the Wakandans to do — or face an attack from his army.

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However, it’s not just that Riri is completely ignorant everything of this until Shuri and Okoye arrive in his bedroom, but we don’t get time to find out who he is or how he affects things before the plot starts to take off. The question of how the CIA got the detector in the first place without Riri’s knowledge is left hanging in the air. The longer you think about it, the more one realizes that the script bends into a pretzel to justify the inclusion of Riri, and the movie tries to distract the audience from this fact by quickly jumping into a chase scene where the Wakandans, the Talokanils, and the FBI. they all tried to find him. Riri’s inclusion feels warranted not by the needs of the story, but by the simple fact that it’s obvious requirements to be there, even if it means leaving the plot of the first act as a tangled bundle of noodles.

Questions But No Answers

Even if the way she’s shoehorned into the story is a mess, that would be a manageable problem if Riri did a complete character arc or served a coherent thematic purpose. However, it doesn’t do any of those things, instead serving more as a chess piece for all parties involved to wrangle each other. The idea that Riri’s device could cause the surface world to learn about Namor’s regime is the reason she gives for needing to kill him, but this ignores the fact that the CIA already knows there is vibranium in the ocean, and will probably try to find it again. Although the CIA blames the Wakandans for the attack on their expedition, the cat is already out of the bag because any further investigation from the US government will undoubtedly reveal the presence of the Talokan.

Shuri’s refusal to allow Namor to kill Riri is part of the rift between them despite Namor saying that he would rather form an alliance with Wakanda than conflict. Riri, on the other hand, is not part of this conversation at all, instead she is left in Talokan’s cell for the duration of this series while the most important characters discuss what to do with her. In a highly structured story where Riri is anyone who can reach her at any time, it doesn’t matter what Riri thinks about anything that happens. Do you regret building a detector? Do you feel responsible for the growing tension between Wakanda and Talokan? Is he angry with the government or his school for his backsliding? If there are answers to these questions, the movie doesn’t want to explore them.

We don’t learn much about Riri’s personality other than the basics: “she’s very smart” and “would rather not die.” It could be argued that most of his acting is meant to happen in his own series, where he is the main character and the story can spend more time developing him. This is true, but it also reinforces the way Wakanda Forever treats him as a plot device, denying him much agency and abandoning the meaningful purpose of his inclusion as an advertisement for its series. What makes this even more ironic is that Riri designs her own superhero suit in the film, but the story doesn’t inspire her to model it after Iron Man, despite her Ironheart hero being from her. in comedy.

America Chavez and the Dangerous Pattern

None of this is what we’ve discussed so far about Riri and how she used the sink in Wakanda Forever as a movie. At least one supporting actor among the many replacements is par for the course with movies of this size. What makes Riri’s treatment stand out is that it’s not the first time that “new hero debuting” has been used as something that all heroes and villains are tripping over to capture. In fact, another incident of this happened earlier this year America Chavez to Doctor Strange in Various Madness Circles.

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In that movie, America is the Scarlet Witch wants to be raptured because she needs the girl’s ability to literally jump to find the universe where she can meet her children, Billy and Tommy. In the same vein, Doctor Strange tries to keep America out of Wanda’s clutches and foil her scheme. Like the Infinity Stones, America changes hands many times between heroes and villains. But unlike the Stones, America isn’t an inanimate object, and she isn’t given many scenes where we learn all that much about who she is as a person. He gets a short backstory involving his parents possibly being killed for using his powers for the first time, and a personal arc about believing in him so he can dump Wanda in the end, but as part of the movie as a whole he’s pretty good. of the active part has three syllables.

The reason for this is that Riri and America are new heroes who should be part of the team that will be driving this business forward in the next few years of news. The MCU has made a point of introducing a bunch of characters that could be part of the fantasy. New Avengers list, such as the aforementioned Billy and Tommy Maximoff, Cassie Lang, Eli Bradley, Kate Bishopagain Kamala Khan. While some of these characters are better developed than others, especially Kate and Kamala who have already led their Disney + shows, the fact that they are two great heroes (in color!) is a pattern. If the MCU really wants us to focus on these new heroes, they’ll need to find a better reason to include them in the story than “because the company asked for it.”

To find out more about the film, see our Wakanda Forever post-credits explainer, enter our greatness Black Panther 2 burning questionsor read ours review!

Carlos Morales writes novels, essays and essays on Mass Effect. You can follow his settings Twitter.


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