MIT’s most famous alumnus—fictional or real-life—might be Tony Stark, the billionaire engineer who used his MIT education to help build a powered suit of armor to protect the world from villains as the superhero Iron Man.
And while very little is known about the fictional Stark’s time at the Institute, his MIT education plays heavily in his Marvel Comics backstory. According to Marvel, he entered the electrical engineering program at 15 and Robert Downey Jr., who plays Stark on film, can be seen wearing a Brass Rat in multiple scenes in the first Iron Man movie.
But even superheroes slow down, and after more than 50 years as Iron Man in comic books, Marvel Comics has announced that Stark will leave his power suit and a new character will take over. TIME magazine reported earlier this week that Riri Williams, the 15-year-old who was introduced in Marvel’s comic universe earlier this year, will headline the new “Invincible Iron Man” comic series when it is released later this year.
But fear not, MIT alumni, the new Iron Man (Iron Woman?) will still retain her predecessor’s most crucial attribute: an MIT education.
In an interview with TIME, Iron Man writer Brian Michael Bendis explains that Riri Williams caught Stark’s attention when he heard she built a similar suit of armor in her MIT dorm.
“In the latest issue of Iron Man, Tony is in a lab talking to himself, and he’s already aware that there’s some student at MIT that’s reverse-engineered one of his old armors all by herself in her dorm room. He’s aware of her immediately.”
We’ll leave it up our MIT alumni audience to deduce which dorm Riri Williams is building her Iron Man suit, or the best spot on campus for Stark and Williams to eventually meet. And while comic readers are months away from finding more details about Riri Williams, according to Bendis, it’s clear that she will share Stark’s unique MIT mindset.
“(Stark is) aware that this young woman is flying by him in terms of how quickly she’s doing it. Her brain is maybe a little better than his. She looks at things from a different perspective that makes the armor unique. He can’t help but go maybe I should buy her out.”
The only thing missing is a Brass Rat.