announced that at the end of Marvel's new event, "Civil War II," Tony Stark will step down from being Iron Man and will be replaced by a new character named Riri Williams, a female college student. Of course, this is not the first instance of something like this happening in the past few years worth of comics. While the comic companies always frame it as if it's something we should all be excited about, the reverse happens because they're messing with the foundation of what made their companies to begin with.
When a new character takes over the mantle of Iron Man, they are no longer Iron Man in my opinion. Iron Man is Tony Stark. Captain America is Steve Rogers. Batman is Bruce Wayne. Spider-Man is Peter Parker. Etc. and so forth. You can have as many characters take up the mantles as you want, but there is only one Thor, and it's the traditional Thor from Norse mythology, not the Jane Foster Thor that was introduced a couple of years ago. The minute you introduce a woman as Iron Man, she's no longer Iron Man. Not least of which because she isn't a man, she's a woman! Call her Iron Woman for crying out loud! It's stupid to call her Iron Man, cause that's not what she is.
I have nothing wrong with Tony Stark going away for a while and a new hero taking his place, and I have nothing wrong with the fact that it's an African American woman wanting to honor the legacy of Iron Man, but she's not Iron Man. Iron Man will always be Tony Stark, the two are interlinked, and no matter how many times you try to have people take over for a pre-existing character like this, fans get upset for that very reason. Now if Marvel were to call her Iron Woman, that would be new and unique, and I'd be fine with it, but the silliness of calling her the new Iron Man is just too much. All of these things that Marvel has been doing with their characters for the past few years really goes back to the big issue... Create new superheroes, stop taking pre-existing characters and trying to graft onto them. That is not what longtime fans want.
When I read a Spider-Man comic book, I want to be reading about Peter Parker. Sure, Ultimate Spider-Man's Miles Morales is okay, but he's not Peter and he never will be. What makes Spider-Man is not his powers, it's who he is under the suit, and for me, that should always be Peter Parker. I hated the nearly two year long storyline where Doc Ock took over Peter Parker's body, cause it wasn't Spider-Man, and while I understand Miles Morales is now part of the canon, I just don't care about him as a character the way I do about Peter Parker. Miles has only been around half a decade, tell him to call me when he's been around for fifty-four years like Peter has. Of course, it's not just Marvel who has been doing this, DC is real bad to do this as well.
In the past two years, I stopped reading Batman comic books for one reason, because writer Scott Snyder finally wrote a story I didn't like. He "killed" Bruce Wayne off, made Commissioner Gordon the new Batman by having him wear a robot suit, and then brought Bruce back, saying he wasn't dead, he just had amnesia (to say nothing of the Joker being immortal or being multiple people over the years). This was just a storyline that negated why I've always loved the character of Batman. Sure, there have been others to don the cowl over the years, ranging from Azrael to Dick Grayson, but in each of those instances, I wasn't quite as upset. While I do believe Bruce Wayne is the one true Batman, seeing a sidekick step up and take over the identity isn't as bad as some random person, like what's happening with Iron Man, or what happened with Miles Morales.
Personally, I don't mind the idea of Bucky Barnes as Captain America. Will he ever replace Steve Rogers? No, but he's a natural fit. The same with The Falcon. I also never had a problem with Wally West taking over as The Flash after Barry Allen died (who himself followed Jay Garrick). In these instances, you're taking a superhero partner or sidekick and giving them the mantle. That's actually a neat concept and is fun, so long as one day the true Batman, Cap, or Flash, come back (which they all did). The bigger issue is when a new character is introduced, or an old character who had no super powers or superhero training (i.e. Jane Foster and Commissioner Gordon), take over the mantle just because the writers want to shake things up. To me, that's just silly.
I am not sure Bob Kane or Bill Finger would have ever liked seeing Commissioner Gordon as Batman. Maybe they would have, but at the end of the day, that's not the character they created. They created Bruce Wayne as Batman. While Stan Lee has come out in recent years in support of all the changes Marvel has made to his characters, fans haven't been as agreeable, and I hate being the typical fanboy here, but I'm just fed up with the current state of comic books. When I pick up a comic book, I want to read the characters I've always known and loved in new adventures. I don't want to read the adventures of someone else as Iron Man or Thor, I just want to see Tony Stark and Thor in the costumes, kicking butt and taking names. Sure, the argument is always... "Well, you can just go back and reread old comics," but that's missing the point. The point is wanting to see the further adventures of Tony Stark's Iron Man. We know what's already happened, therefore we're more interested in seeing what the next adventure will look like. Maybe I'm just a sentimentalist, but I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.