Marvel screened the newest Marvel Rising special, Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron at Wondercon in Anaheim California. Playing to a room of family, kids, and eager Marvel fans, the cast and crew hosted a Q&A and premiered the episode. Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron is a big deal. It introduces a comic fan favorite character Riri Williams (Sofia Wylie) and also continues to build the relationships between the team begun with their other specials.
Marvel Rising’s roundup of diverse and empowered characters written for both boys and girls is just plain fun. From their first special, Marvel Rising: Chasing Ghosts, to Heart of Iron, each one is beautifully written and gives every character an opportunity to shine. The best part about a Marvel Rising special is that while it might center on one character, every character feels empowered and ready to work as a team. Heart of Iron is no exception.
Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron is an emotional story that puts the very complex backstory of Riri Williams into story beats that younger audience members could understand. Sofia Wylie’s Riri Williams is a student at a prestigious school who’s built an iron man suit, not her first one, and is hiding it in her dorm room. When Hala the Accuser breaks into the school lab to try and steal Kree technology she ends up crossing paths with the secret warriors and finding a place to belong.
One of the things stressed about Heart of Iron was that even those who have power, or have experienced trauma are still worth acceptance and love. Riri’s story is a powerful one of overcoming terrible events and using it to become a hero – sometimes at the cost of how you treat other people. The show doesn’t shy away from that either with Riri having to chose between heroism and her drive to make the world better – and her desire to be happy in it.
She’s not the only character who develops too. Daisy Johnson as a team leader, indeed as a legacy hero trained by Phil Coulson, is forced to face her own weaknesses as a leader. She overcomes them and has some opportunities to find more mentors which will make her a stronger hero, and a stronger mentor for her own team.
There are a lot of really strong characters, character moments, and story beats in Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron. It’s hard to imagine that such a common plot for children’s programming (It’s literally a plot lifted from My Little Pony: The Movie) could be so deep and used to explore so many intense issues but if anyone could do it it would be Marvel. Marvel taking something so commonplace and turning it into something powerful and empowering is proof that they’re the best and that their family entertainment department is delivering quality. Here’s to many more specials and exploring empowering characters for little girls around the world.
Clocking in at 45 minutes, the Marvel Rising episode earned some tears, some hard laughs, and honestly had us moved emotionally. It’s a good episode for older kids, but parents should watch it first before showing it to younger ones. While difficult, it could spark some discussions about grief, difficulty making friends, and being introverted that families should consider having. Looking for a good discussion? Look no further.