In the 616, “The Search for Tony Stark” appears to revive Tony in a rebooted body, meaning he should be back as Iron Man when Bendis officially departs with issue #600. Now, with Riri in the mix, that’s two Iron Men. Honestly speaking, this hasn’t worked out that well in the past, as seen with War Machine’s lack of staying power. An easy fix, to really give Riri a sense of identity, would be to place her into the Ultimate Universe as a main player. Spider-Men II could easily have taken place after Iron Man #600, after all, which means that by the time we saw that universe’s return, she may well have been there for some time, charting a course as that reality’s Iron Man.
Spider-Men II is driven by the 616’s Miles Morales’ desire to head to the Ultimate Universe and find that alternate reality’s Barbara (his wife who died in the 616). He succeeds, and is now making a new life for himself. Riri may now have a similar map towards happiness with the option of possibly reuniting her family in the alternate reality.
Riri’s father and step-father both died in the 616, in separate shootouts, as did her best friend Natalie. The opportunity to reunite one of her lost fathers with her mother, or even strike up a friendship with another Natalie, who was very much like a sister to her, is legitimately possible. In other words, the Ultimate Universe could offer Riri a second chance, a fresh start that wipes away at least some of the tragedy and pain she has known all her life.
Let’s be real: Once Tony’s back, Riri will always be second-fiddle in the 616. Transporting her to the Ultimate Universe, though, would allow her to branch out as her own person, her own hero. This would be a win-win because Marvel gets to make the 616 classic again with its original Avengers taking lead, while crafting out-the-box stories not bound by continuity or history on the Ultimate side.
Who knows, maybe Riri could even be the bridge for displaced heroes like Spidey-Miles or Jimmy Hudson (Ultimate Wolverine’s son) to rediscover people from the Ultimate Universe they thought were dead. It’s obvious she has the intelligence, technological acumen and overall ambition (as the Infamous Iron Man Victor Von Doom pointed out) to explore her heroic identity in this role. More so, she’s capable of doing it on her own, like a teen who’s moved out and gone to college.
Sure, the Ultimate Ironheart we saw could simply be the Riri that grew up in the Ultimate Universe. Heck, it could even be an A.I. called Riri; we never see under the armored helmet, after all. But it simply wouldn’t make a lot of sense to introduce a new Riri when this original is still finding her footing. Making Riri an Avenger outside the 616 would be the ultimate test, one that can even groom her to surpass the achievements of Tony himself.
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