Marvel Rising fans were in for two huge treats at WonderCon on Sunday. In addition to seeing the world premiere of Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron, they also learned about three new animated specials coming later this year to Marvel HQ: Marvel Rising: Battle of the Bands, Marvel Rising: Operation Shuri, and Marvel Rising: Playing With Fire.
For those who missed the world premiere at WonderCon, you can catch Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron on the Marvel HQ YouTube channel when it goes live on Wednesday, April 3 at 4pm PT. Heart of Iron introduces Riri Williams, a.k.a. Ironheart, to the Marvel Rising universe, voiced by Sofia Wylie. In this 44-minute special, Riri is adjusting to college life, which is difficult because she’s younger than the other students. When Hala the Accuser attacks and kidnaps Riri’s best friend, Riri finds inspiration in her hero Iron Man and hatches a plan to defeat Hala and save the day.
During interviews with members of the voice cast at WonderCon, Wylie spoke about the thrill of bringing Riri to life. “Marvel has always been a very big part of my life and Iron Man is such an amazing character that I have always loved.”
At first, Riri is determined to work alone too, but through the Secret Warriors she learns “it’s ok to be a part of a team and to have strong relationships with people because it’s so much harder to try to go it alone,” Wylie said. One of the people she connects with is Patriot, voiced by Kamil McFadden.
“They relate because of the lone wolf mentality,” McFadden said, referencing Patriot’s old insistence on working alone. “I think having that common ground, it’s easier for her to let her guard down and to really see that if he can do it… so can I.”
Milana Vayntrub, who voices Squirrel Girl, sees a lot of similarities between Squirrel Girl and Riri too and believes that gives them a good basis for friendship and teamwork. “Most women actually get along when they meet for the first time,” Vayntrub said. “And actually, Squirrel Girl loves Riri because she’s also this scientific wonder genius who is really capable of using tech and her powers to fight crime and make the world a better place.”
However, Wylie also highlighted how Riri’s feelings of isolation and why she feels that makes her relatable to everyone. “The great thing about Riri is that she doesn’t only represent young, black girls but she represents everybody who feels like they haven’t been represented.”
Kathreen Khavari as Ms. Marvel echoed those feelings, especially about portraying young, female heroes. “I think everyone would agree that it’s of the utmost importance to have those characters out there for everyone to see,” she said. “I certainly didn’t grow up with anything like that. The fact that these girls are also scientists, some of them, and engineers… it’s just exciting that that’s shaping a new generation in a really progressive way. I’d love to see more of that.”
Vayntrub also mentioned how no hero like Squirrel Girl, whose effervescence is in contrast to many of the other very serious heroes out there, was in popular media when she was growing up. It’s so meaningful to be a part of changing that now. “It’s the best. I feel so lucky to be doing what I’m doing in this time. I wish Squirrel Girl existed when I was a kid,” she said.
Even executive producer Cort Lane spoke up on this topic and why shows like Marvel Rising can have a huge impact on young viewers. “Yes, we just make superhero cartoons,” he said, “but shows like this and [Marvel Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest], we feel like we are telling important stories. We’re presenting to young people that being a superhero isn’t about punching people but it’s about using whatever skills you have and whatever smarts you have to make the world a better place.”
Following Heart of Iron, Marvel Rising has three new specials slated for this year. Marvel Rising: Battle of the Bands spotlights Dove Cameron as Ghost-Spider in a 22-minute animated special. On the day of Gwen’s “Battle of the Bands” competition, mysterious attacks force her and the Secret Warriors to investigate. Can they save the city and get Gwen to the concert on time?
Marvel Rising: Operation Shuri will introduce the fan-favorite character Shuri, voiced by Daisy Lightfoot from Marvel Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest to the Marvel Rising universe in a 22-minute animated special. The lives of the Secret Warriors are turned upside down when faced with their latest mission: hang out with Shuri, the Crown Princess of Wakanda, and show her what it’s like to be an ordinary teenager. But nothing’s ordinary when you’re dealing with one of the smartest and most famous people on the planet.
Lastly, Marvel Rising: Playing With Fire will star Tyler Posey as Inferno. In this 44-minute special, Inferno’s powers are stolen by a young and powerful villain and it’s up to the Secret Warriors to defeat their new foe and help their friend. But does Inferno even WANT his powers back? Meanwhile, America Chavez, voiced by Cierra Ramirez, learns a lesson about friendship and family from teammate Ms. Marvel.
To watch all Marvel Rising animated specials, visit Marvel HQ on YouTube.