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The Question About Riri's Invention In Wakanda Forever That Still Needs An Answer

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

Among the many things happening in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is the introduction of Riri (Dominique Thorne). She's the 15-year-old super-genius who will soon star in her own Disney+ series "Ironheart." Obviously, featuring her in "Wakanda Forever" is a way of introducing audiences to her character and getting some hype going for when the series eventually debuts. But this has led to a plot point that was developed for the movie that fans are calling into question.

The conflict between Namor and Wakanda is ignited when the vibranium detector that Riri invented is used by the U.S. government to bring harm to his people. So Namor vows to kill Riri in the name of vengeance, despite the fact that it would be a more effective use of his time and resources to track down the U.S. government and try to destroy the machine. But some people are starting to ask: did Riri even build the vibranium detector? There are certain plot holes — or, at the very least, sins of omission — that make it hard for some fans to believe she was the one who constructed the machine and got it working. Let's take a look at the main talking points of this debate.

She likely did most of the hard work, but people are questioning whether she finished it on her own

The assertion that she didn't build the machine at all is a bit silly under the best circumstances (and downright insulting at worst). Why would they have her in the movie if she wasn't at least somewhat involved in the machine's construction? That would make even less sense than Namor's relentless pursuit of her when his main enemy is clearly the U.S. government.

YouTuber The Jaded Fanboy insists that she didn't have all of the materials necessary to construct a working prototype. He points out that she would have needed a vibranium sample in order to test her detector to make sure it actually worked. But this doesn't mean that she couldn't have at least drawn up a schematic design. And she may have briefly had access to a vibranium sample at some point — and if the movie didn't bother to include that detail, it might just be a sin of omission rather than a point of fact.

Furthermore, this Emergency Awesome YouTube breakdown of the movie asserts that Riri was tricked into building the machine. When confronted about it, Riri claims that she just did it to prove to her MIT professor that she could. Her unnamed professor insisted that it was an impossible task, perhaps calling her abilities into question and motivating her to finish the project out of spite. Either way, if she did enough work to come up with a viable proof of concept, that would have been enough for the government to swoop in and co-opt the technology for themselves.

If she didn't finish it, then who did?

Here's where things get a little bit interesting. The working theory that might make the most sense is that Doctor Doom was somehow involved in the vibranium detector's construction. Now, that theory may seem flimsy at first — after all, why would Doctor Doom be slumming it undercover at MIT when he's one of the most reviled supervillains in the Marvel Universe?

Well, the Emergency Awesome YouTube video we mentioned earlier has a rebuttal: Doctor Doom had someone working on his behalf. And they (as well as other fans on social media) believe that someone in the movie is Dr. Graham. Her actress, Lake Bell, is pretty well-known, so fans were scratching their heads over why they would cast such a high-profile talent in such a small role and kill her off (allegedly — we never see a body) almost immediately. Emergency Awesome theorizes that she is actually Lucia von Bardas in disguise — Doctor Doom's Latverian assistant who does a lot of his grunt work. He may have sent her out in search of rare and powerful technology that can help him achieve his evil plans.

Unfortunately, we won't know for sure whether or not this theory pans out until the upcoming MCU Fantastic Four movie debuts in theaters a few years from now. But the MCU did go out of its way to introduce Riri in this movie to set up future plot points and IPs. So it's at least plausible that squeezing Bardas-in-disguise into "Wakanda Forever" could be an attempt to get fans ready for a near-future Doctor Doom appearance.