Riri Williams was born shortly after the death of her father, Riri Williams, Sr.. She grew up in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, living with her sister Sharon, their mother, Ronnie, and their step-father. When Riri was five years old, behavioral problems led her parents to consult a child psychologist, who certified Riri as a super genius after undergoing several tests. At the psychologist's recommendation, Riri's parents looked into special care to foster her abilities, while also giving her emotional support.
Riri's level of intelligence caused her to retreat inside her own mind and become an introvert. She met her only friend, Natalie Washington, when she was ten years old, after Riri caught Natalie's attention while working at her open garage on some inventions meant to hopefully help superheroes some day. A year after that, Riri was given a scholarship at M.I.T.. Tragedy struck Riri when she was thirteen years old. While having a picnic at Marquette Park, Riri, her family, and Natalie were caught in the line of fire when a drive by shooting hit some bystanders. Even though Riri was unscathed, both Natalie and Riri's step-father were hit by stray bullets and died.
Building the First Suit
What started as a challenge for herself ended up becoming a secret project to create her own suit of armor. After reverse-engineering technology from the outdated Iron Man Armor Model 41, Riri started creating her own prototype version of the Iron Man Armor, using mainly stolen material from campus. When security caught notice of her suspicious activities, Riri decided to don the suit of armor and fly away.
After flying around the country trying to get the hang of her suit's flying capabilities, Riri intercepted a couple of inmates escaping from the New Mexico State Penitentiary. She managed to stop the speeding truck they were using as a escape vehicle, but at the cost of her armor's integrity. Riri eventually returned to her house to keep working on her suit, much to her mother's dismay. After learning of Riri's accomplishment, Tony Stark visited her and chose to endorse Riri's desire to become a super hero. Using a repaired version of her armor, Riri later assisted Iron Man during the second superhero Civil War, fighting against the forces of Captain Marvel.
In the end of the civil war, Tony Stark fell into a coma fighting Captain Marvel. so Riri decided to continue his legacy as a hero. With the guidance of an A.I. duplicate of Stark, Riri created an improved suit of armor, and took up the alias of Ironheart. Riri rapidly caught the attention of allies and enemies of Tony Stark alike.
After defeating the Techno Golem and her Biohack Ninja with the help of Rescue, S.H.I.E.L.D. started monitoring Riri. Having become famous, Riri was offered not only Tony Stark's old lab by his mother Amanda Armstrong; M.I.T. approached Riri to offer her their resources, and a group of teenage superheroes, the Champions invited her to join their ranks. Not long afterwards, S.H.I.E.L.D. convinced Ironheart to invade Latveria to take down the war criminal Lucia von Bardas. Riri defeated the Latverian terrorist and declared herself the new monarch of the small nation. After negotiating a truce between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Latveria's armed forces, Riri abdicated and helped pave the way for Latveria's first free elections.
Adventures with the Champions
When Hydra launched a massive attack on the American government under the hand of a fascist doppelganger of Captain America, both Ironheart and the Tony Stark A.I. joined the Underground, a contingent of heroes and civilians fighting against Hydra's regime. During this time, Riri became closer to the Champions, and even joined them when they left the Underground to support Spider-Man and form the Red Room to formulate a plan to take down Captain America under the guidance of Black Widow. However, when the Champions carried out their plan, the Black Widow was murdered by Captain America, and the young heroes were arrested. Ironheart and the other teenage heroes were freed during the Underground's assault on Washington, D.C. which resulted in the defeat of Hydra and the return of the real Captain America. As a reward for helping defeat Hydra, the sentient Cosmic Cube named Kobik transported a handful of heroes to different periods in time. Ironheart was taken to a distant future where she encountered the Sorcerer Supreme Tony Stark, who inspired her to continue working on her own future.
While investigating the disappearance of Tony Stark's comatose body shortly afterwards, Riri was invited into a think tank founded by Leonardo da Vinci who intended to create something to stand in the place of the defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. Following these adventures and the return of Tony Stark, Riri officially became a member of the Champions. After a mission to the North Pole to rescue Amka Aliyak and add her to the team, she and the Champions then went into outer space to help Nova save the Chitauri from genocide, Ironheart recklessly attempted to take on Thanos, the ruler of these aliens. Thanos effortlessly disintegrated Riri's armor and spared her solely because the Champions had indirectly fought on his behalf against the Warbringer. While reeling from the loss of her suit, Riri was encouraged by her teammate Viv to work on a new iteration of the armor, inspired by the Chitauri they just fought.
Afterwards, Riri showed off her new Ironheart suit to her teammates before heading to Mbali, Tanzania to install water filters as a favor for a friend of Nadia's. Upon arrival, she ate with the locals at their behest while Amka and Viv investigated what turned out to be Man-Thing, who had taken up refuge in the forests that surrounded the village. He attacked them, but was defeated — at the cost of serious damage to Viv and the loss of Sam and Nadia to another dimension. As the search for them continued, Riri was present when Miles Morales received news that a shooting occurred in his school. The Champions all took this news poorly, with Riri in particular displaying a morbid resignation to the inevitability of gun violence, explaining to Amadeus Cho that it played at least some part in why she built the Ironheart armor.
Sometime later, Riri was with the Champions when Amka discovered the location of their missing teammates. After convincing her to let them accompany her, they all entered the Siege Parallel, an alternate reality more akin to a fantasy RPG, that changed them all into traditional Dungeons and Dragons archetypes of their personalities; Riri becoming a noble Paladin by the name of Lady Ironheart, and the only one who was able to recall her true reality on Earth. After meeting with Miles, who now the Rogue Shadow-Spider, the two of them embarked on a mission to save their scattered teammates.
After eventually regrouping with Mystic Marvel (Ms. Marvel), Vivid Vessel (Viv), Snowgore (Amka), Brawnhammer (Amadeus), and a reformed Man-Thing, they confronted the evil ruler who had turned Nova Knight (Sam) and Wicked Wasp (Nadia) over to his side. By combining her power with Vivid Vessel, Riri was able to defeat him and return home with her teammates. Afterwards, she met with a downtrodden Miles Morales over some comments he had made as Shadow-Spider, but he promised her that he wouldn't leave the team. The experience as Vivid Vessel also made Viv realize that she had romantic feelings for Riri, and she surprised Riri with a kiss in her room once she was alone there. But Riri's poor social skills left her unable to give Viv a proper response, and so things were left awkward and unresolved between her and Viv, straining her presence on the Champions.
Sometime later, she successfully assisted a much larger Champions team on a global, large-scale mission that involved multiple relief efforts in various countries. Afterwards, she was confronted by Viv, who still sought resolution for her romantic confession, but Riri was flustered and remained unable to give Viv the closure she wanted. This caused her to avoid Champions-related activity for an extended period of time afterwards.
She would eventually fall victim to the influence of Blackheart and confront Viv at her home in Arlington. Upon seeing that she was in the middle of coordinating a Champions mission, she ambushed her, which led the rest of the Champions to confront her in a battle. It wasn't until Viv apologized to Riri that she was able to snap out of Blackheart's control and defeat him, before finally resolving their feelings for each other - Riri saying she couldn't return Viv's romantic feelings but was happy to be her friend.
Riri eventually accepted the offer from MIT to have her own lab, and she continued to develop a proper AI for her armor with her newfound resources. After an accident occurred while giving a tour of this lab to foreign visitors, she received an alert for unusual police activity that prompted her to investigate. This led to a confrontation with the villain Clash, who gave her a token of the Ten Rings after his defeat, acknowledging her villainous potential. This troubled Riri greatly, until she was surprised by her friend Xavier King with a FaceTime call. After a long conversation, she was shocked to see that the AI that she had been developing from scanning and compositing her brainwaves and memories was complete, and had taken the form of an aged-up Natalie, her long-dead best friend.
Christening her the Neuro-Autonomous Technical Assistant & Laboratory Intelligence Entity, Riri and her new AI returned home to Chicago to investigate the disappearance of her childhood friend Daija Hamilton with her mother and Xavier.
Pursuing a lead led her to a Ten Rings ambush, and further investigation allowed her to finally confront Daija, who it turned out was being held hostage by a Ten Rings agent known as Midnight's Fire. He would later confront her in her garage, and explain that he sought the ancient Wellspring of Power, and envisioned Riri joining him on this journey. Riri refused him and was defeated in a short scuffle afterwards. After tracking Daija to the warehouse where she and numerous other children had been held captive by the corrupt politician Thomas Birch, she was able to rescue her and the children, as well as realize Midnight's Fire was using the politician as a pawn. Several days later, she dropped out of MIT to establish a new base of operations by purchasing a studio in Chicago with money she got as a reward for uncovering the Birch conspiracy, as well as from selling a patent for the device she used to track Daija.
Eventually, she was asked by Ms. Marvel to investigate the disappearance of Miles, who during her prolonged absence from the Champions had quit the team, breaking the promise he had made to her. She resolved to find him, and once again showed a proclivity to stalking by using his cellphone data to ascertain his last last known location, much to N.A.T.A.L.I.E.'s amusement. Once there, they discovered that he was the subject of a temporal experiment by the Tank. They were able to subdue him, before they finally reconciled over Miles' exit.
Later on, while giving Nadia a tour of her lab, Chicago became overrun by zombies, the source of which Riri was able to identify as nearby Midway Airport. The group quickly realized a villain known as Eclipse was responsible for the outbreak, and Riri stopped the outbreak by subduing her.
Engaging the Ten Rings
Recognizing the symbol of Eclipse's head as being part of the Ten Rings, Riri realized she needed magical assistance and flew to New York to consult Doctor Strange. Against his better judgment — having reservations over the damage such a quest driven by hubris could do to Riri, as it has done to her icon Tony Stark in the past — Strange was able to show her that the Wellspring of Power was located in Wakanda. Riri then sought Tony's help in gaining passage to Wakanda, where she met with Shuri and despite a rocky introduction was able to help her dispel an invasion of Shadow creatures that were leaking out from the Wellspring. After being met by Silhouette, who was on the same journey as them to stop her twin brother Midnight's Fire, the three of them made their way to the Wellspring, where they encountered yet more Shadow creatures; defeating with the help of Okoye, who had tailed them there.
The four of them gained access to the Wellspring, where thanks to Silhouette they were able to discover the Ten Rings in the process of reopening the Wellspring, among whom were Midnight's Fire and Eclipse, as well as Tomoe and their leader Dune, who revealed himself to be Riri's father. They were discovered and apprehended by the Ten Rings, but Riri initiated a battle for the key to the Wellspring when she revealed herself as Dune's daughter. Using Pym particles gifted by Nadia, she was able to obtain the key, but fell into the Wellspring, where she had an epiphany that revealed the truth behind her father's disappearance and bestowed her augmented power, which she used to overpower the Ten Rings and force them to retreat. Days later, the heroic efforts of herself and Silhouette were recognized by Wakanda with the Circlet of Bast, its highest honor; and Shuri let her know that there would always be a place for her in Wakanda if she ever wanted it.
Following the enactment of the Underage Superhuman Welfare Act which outlawed teenager vigilantism, Riri saw herself forced to hang up the mantle of Ironheart out of concern for the legal consequences against her mother if she didn't lie low. This caused Riri to clash with N.A.T.A.L.I.E. after uncovering the industrial saboteur André Sims but refusing to confront him directly. This rift was exacerbated by a glitch in N.A.T.A.L.I.E.'s systems from when she entered in contact with Sims' software for sabotage, causing her to become violent and hijack Riri's empty armor to attack Sims. Riri managed to track N.A.T.A.L.I.E. down and bring her back to her senses. After Sims' activities were exposed, Riri put her armor in storage, cementing the resignation of her days as Ironheart. Riri and N.A.T.A.L.I.E. continued to work with the Champions, however, as she sent her AI companion to New York to provide security for a secret meeting of the teen heroes after Kamala's Law was passed and began to be enforced by C.R.A.D.L.E.. The meeting would be discovered after its location was revealed to the authorities by Viv Vision, but N.A.T.A.L.I.E. helped a few of the heroes find a way out. Later on, the protests against C.R.A.D.L.E. moved to Chicago, bringing the remaining Champions — Ms. Marvel, Miles, and Sam — there as well.
After trying and failing to defuse a protest situation, exposing themselves to authorities in the process, they sought refuge in Riri's house where they questioned why she hadn't been with them thus far and accused her of being the mole who told C.R.A.D.L.E. where the New York meeting was located. Riri responded by explaining that her public identity and dependence on her mother didn't allow her the freedom to break the law that their secret identities afforded them, and refuted Ms. Marvel's accusation of betrayal; revealing in the process the fact that she had deduced Ms. Marvel's real name. Despite Riri's reservations, though, her three teammates had unwillingly lured C.R.A.D.L.E to her house — a possibility she had anticipated as she was wearing her armor gauntlets under her casual clothes the entire time — and forced her to suit up and aid her teammates in repelling C.R.A.D.L.E.'s forces.
Riri and the Champions went on the run across the country trying to evade C.R.A.D.L.E. but each time their location was exposed by Viv. When confronted head on for the final time, they were rescued by former teammate Cyclops along with Pixie and Dust. After Pixie teleported them to Riri's Chicago laboratory, Cyclops explained that while he couldn't get Krakoa to take them in, they could stay with the Marauders and Captain Kate Pryde. After a short skirmish and the pleasure of meeting her idol Storm, Riri and the Champions decided to return and confront C.R.A.D.L.E. head-on instead of running away. The team went back to Riri's house and apologized to her mother, proceeding to record a takedown video of C.R.A.D.L.E. after receiving the blessing of Mrs. Williams and reconciling with Viv and their freed teammates, as well as the mobile base of operations that had been seized from them. C.R.A.D.L.E. was then disbanded after a confrontation between the Champions and Roxxon, the newly discredited masterminds behind Kamala's Law, which would no longer be enforced pending repeal. The Champions were once again free to carry out their heroic exploits without persecution.
Skilled Inventor and Engineer: Despite her youth and limited resources, Riri has devised and created various contrivances, including her own version of the Iron Man Armor, which she reverse-engineered from scratch.
Armor: Riri originally used a crude suit of armor with technology reverse-engineered from the Iron Man Armor. The armor was capable of achieving flight and flipping over a speeding truck, but it fractured as a consequence of the impact. Her second suit featured cutting edge similar to Iron Man's. In the wake of the prior model's destruction at the hand of Thanos, Riri finished designs on a newer more aerodynamic powered armor to replace it.
- Riri was first referenced in Invincible Iron Man (Vol. 3) #1, when Tony Stark makes mention of a 15 year-old who had reverse engineered his technology in his inner monologue.
- Riri Williams' appearance was based on actress Skai Jackson.
- Riri William's admiration for Mae Jemison was inspired by the daughter of a friend of Riri's co-creator Brian Michael Bendis.
- Riri is a fan of the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest.
- Riri is a member of the Forums social media network. Xavier used her account to check the gossip about N.A.T.A.L.I.E.'s incursion into Stark Unlimited Chicago HQ during the Robot Revolution.
- 129 appearance(s) of Riri Williams (Earth-616)
- 1 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Riri Williams (Earth-616)
- 24 minor appearance(s) of Riri Williams (Earth-616)
- 15 mention(s) of Riri Williams (Earth-616)
- 319 image(s) of Riri Williams (Earth-616)
- 16 quotation(s) by or about Riri Williams (Earth-616)
- 3 item(s) used/owned by Riri Williams (Earth-616)