Black Panther: Wakanda Forever introduced Dominique Thorne's Riri Williams into the wider MCU, but it looks like the actress' portrayal will be drastically different when the young Avenger returns in her upcoming Disney+ series.
Thorne already shared that Black Panther 2 was just a taste of who Riri Williams is, noting that her true self was held back due to her being "outside of her element."
The MCU newcomer also addressed concerns about becoming Iron Man's replacement, pointing out that she feels "people are genuinely interested" to know more about her character after Wakanda Forever.
Dominique Thorne Opens up About Ironheart Portrayal
Speaking with Teen Vogue, Ironheart actress Dominique Thorne shared that she read almost all the source material that was available for Riri Williams, going through her appearances in the comic books.
The actress explained that Williams' portrayal in Ironheart "could be drastically different" from Black Panther 2, saying that knowing the comic-book version of the character on an intimate level is important so that she "could make the choice to translate" details in live-action:
“My understanding was that the presentation of Riri in Wakanda Forever and in Ironheart could be drastically different.”
Thorne then opened up about studying how her portrayal will be unique in the upcoming Disney+ series:
“I can’t imagine not taking that time to do the dive. But then at the same time… there is nothing to research. There is nothing to know. You either feel it or you don’t. That’s sometimes where the magic happens. But when you know what the ‘rules’ are, it’s easier to break them. [Like if I was] playing someone who is supposed to drown, I want to be the best swimmer in here.”
In Wakanda Forever, the first scene Thorne filmed was with Angela Bassett. While confirming that she wasn't concerned with the idea of filming with the veteran actress, Thorne said that she was intimidated instead by how she would introduce her MCU character with limited screen time and information in the sequel:
“I [didn’t] know if the choices I made worked or not. What’s her family like? What’s her home life? Does she believe in God? All of these questions about who this girl is were questions that were only going to be answered by the [Ironheart] scripts, which I didn’t have at that time. It was like, how do I represent and portray a full human, but also leave room for the rest of her personality to be filled in later? How do I represent a point of view but not commit too strongly to anything, ’cause that could change?”
After filming wrapped for Ironheart, Thorne believed that she knows Riri Williams better than anyone in the world.
As Teen Vogue noted, filming for Ironheart began in Atlanta and ended in Chicago (Riri's hometown). Thorne also pointed out that Chicago is a "respected character in the story."
The MCU actress ended by teasing that Ironheart will allow fans to see a different side of Riri in terms of "what it looks like to be young and Black from Chicago:"
“I bet many people have never seen a person who’s supposed to be the smart one, the nerd, pull up and run somebody’s pockets. And I think that is beautiful. There are so many more layers we’re getting to [show about] what it looks like to be young and Black and from Chicago.”
Why Ironheart’s Evolution Is Crucial to MCU’s Phase 5 & Beyond
Dominique Thorne's latest comments indicate that a different Riri Williams will be showcased in Ironheart, which is a promising sign since Black Panther: Wakanda Forever forever changed the character.
Alongside Riri's evolution in Black Panther 2, Thorne's portrayal will be infused by her own take anchored by the character's experiences in her hometown.
Thorne's remark about doing a deep dive into the character's history essentially proves her commitment to the role, and this could be key in continuing to evolve her portrayal in future outings.
While the MCU sequel provided a glimpse of Riri as a strong ally of Wakanda, Disney+'s Ironheart is poised to show what the young Avenger is capable of as a full-fledged superhero.
Doing this would allow Riri to be confident that she would get the job done when she answers the call of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in either of the next two Avengers movies.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is streaming on Disney+ while Ironheart has no release date yet.