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Ironheart's Under Armor Takes Center Stage In Black Panther 2 Concept Art

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" not only had to go deeper in exploring the mighty nation of Wakanda, but it also expanded its worldbuilding by introducing new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Amongst these new faces was Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), who eventually became Ironheart. The character, originally created by comic artists Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato, is initially hunted down by the nation of Talokan and the FBI after aiding in the invention of a vibranium-detecting machine for the CIA until she is saved by Shuri (Letitia Wright) and Okoye (Danai Gurira). Amongst being taken back to Wakanda, the MIT student is able to perfect the technology for her greatest creation — a suit of armor that can even rival that of the late Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), which she puts to great use during the film's final battle against the Talokanil.

As impressive as Williams' technology is, the final Ironheart suit did little to satisfy fans. A Reddit thread showcasing the suit birthed such comments as "Marvel really has given up" from u/KindredTrash483 and "Is it a cartoon movie?" from u/day7seven. While the final suit may not have given fans everything they wanted, it's false to assume there was no effort put into its design. Every element in "Wakanda Forever" had to go through a rigorous design process before finding its way into the movie. This was the case with Ironheart's suit as well, which even saw a hidden element get cut from the final film. 

Ironheart's under armor had an exciting scene planned for it

While the final Ironheart suit used in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" has been unfavorably compared to everything from Power Rangers to Pokémon, there was originally more to the look than meets the eye. Concept artist Phil Saunders, who previously made impressive pieces of concept art for Marvel projects such as "Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Endgame" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," recently shared an unused design of what would have been Ironheart's under armor on his Instagram

The artist shares that despite the design being seen in the suit-building montage, it was ultimately cut from the film in a key scene that would have shown it off. The scene, as described by Saunders in his post, would have seen Namora (Mabel Cadena) disable Ironheart's combat upgrades during their scuffle in the sky. The hero would then escape from the outer suit we see in the film, coming out donning the sleeker base suit. Fans were not shy about expressing their admiration for the unused design, which many considered superior to the final look we received in the film. The comment section on the post saw @fdhylll say, "God this is way cooler than what we got" while @wyattcoe.design commented on a similar note, saying, "What a shame we didn't get to see more of this."

Ironheart is set to return in the upcoming 2023 Marvel Disney+ series "Ironheart," with Dominique Throne slated to return to the role (via Variety).