Dominic Thorne for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

TThe Marvel Cinematic Universe is always introducing new characters to its already massive roster. After many of the franchise’s central superheroes died or retired Avengers: Endgame, Phase four of Marvel’s release schedule was dedicated to seeing how other characters and the general population coped with the loss of these figures. The fifth phase will see the formation of a new superhero team, the Young Avengers. So far, the audience has met Kid Loki in Loki, Kate Bishop in HawkeyeMiss America in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madnessand Skaar inside She-Hulk. And viewers tune in Black Panther: Wakanda Foreverout in theaters Friday, will meet Ironheartplayed by Dominic Thorne.

Thorne, 25, has starred in films such as Barry Jenkin’s 2018 tearjerker. If Beale Street could talk and 2021 Judas and the Black Messiah. with Wakanda forever, Thorne makes her Marvel debut as Riri Williams, the genius MIT student who is able to replicate Iron Man’s suit and become a hero herself, known as Iron Heart. She will be getting her own TV show on Disney+ late next year.

Below, Thorne speaks with TIME to talk about her experience joining Marvel and her excitement for audiences to discover her character.

Congratulations on your Marvel debut! What goes through your mind as people are introduced to Riri Wakanda forever?

It’s one of the first moments where I can feel a real excitement to see how I can interact with the film and interact with the person I’ve played. After we’re done shooting, I usually try to pay my respects, have a moment of gratitude with God, and forget about it. But this time it was different and I feel very good.

Read more: Exclusive: Marvel’s new Iron Man is a black woman

What was it like joining a cast that was still mourning the death of Chadwick Boseman?

I knew the cast was tasked with an incredible job that no one doubted would be completed. I imagined what it must feel like to go through a journey that is already so exhausting and then dump the mystery of grief on top of that, and I hoped that I could just offer them support in a real way.

You put a lot of heart into Riri’s character, especially when it comes to family and taking care of your own. with Ironheart coming out next year, what can we expect from the show?

If you can glean these themes from watching Riri in Wakanda, then you might have a great time stepping into Riri’s world in Ironheart. It’s definitely an emphasis on her core, which is very much about family and the affairs of her heart.

You recently talked about being something of a comic book geek and having grown up with comics your whole life. What are some of your favorite things about reading comics?

With the Marvel comics, I was most interested to see what the movie was going to be like… For me, it’s always just amazing to see the source material because I think we almost always assume that there’s a healthy little space that I feel like most people give you to like movies adaptations, even if there’s a pre-existing comic… But I think with Marvel, when comics are translated, it’s always nice to see some of the core qualities of that character you love preserved. I think the main thing that is different does [movie adaptations] it’s exciting that they’re on this whole new journey. Instead of being this evil thing to read off the page, it became this all-sensory experience.

Read more: An exclusive first look at Marvel’s new Iron Man, Riri Williams

You have also featured in other award winning films like If Beale Street could talk and Judas and the Black Messiah. Was there anything you learned from working on these films that you brought to prepare you for your role as Riri?

The main thing would just be a healthy level of openness. Keeping an open mind as you go through the filming process is the healthiest way to go because you never know what’s going to happen.

You have to be open to defending the truth and making sure that when you step on the screen, you use that time, that space to tell the story that means something to someone. Now I’m lucky enough to tell stories that not only mean something to me, but also mean a lot to a lot of other people.

There is much debate as to whether superhero movies, and Marvel movies in particular, are “real cinema.” How did you think this would fit into a Marvel movie?

At the end of the day, Marvel movies are stories about heroes. They are stories about, well, not real people, but people with very real problems, questions and experiences. To be a fan of it and then think I could be involved in it was a challenge I had to take on.

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Write to Moises Mendes II c [email protected].

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