Who is Black Panther in Wakanda Forever?  Signs point to Shuri

Who is Black Panther in Wakanda Forever? Signs point to Shuri

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The first teaser for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever confirmed what many fans had suspected: someone else would take on the mantle of the Black Panther after the death of T’Challa (and star Chadwick Boseman).

And with Monday’s full trailer, Marvel has finally suggested who could take over. In an ongoing trend of Marvel’s recent phases, a woman will take on the role of Wakanda’s protector.

The question is, who? Let’s explore the possibilities.


Shuri as Black Panther

Image: Marvel Studios

Let’s put the obvious ones on the table first. In the lore of Marvel Comics, Shuri has stepped into the shoes of the Black Panther before, when super villains imprisoned T’Challa in a state between life and death. She earned Bast’s blessing and went through the trials of ingesting the heart-shaped herb while stopping a war. Even after T’Challa recovered, he took a break from Black Panther and let her keep the job for a while.

Suffice it to say that Letitia Wright’s Shuri has many precedents for donning the costume. And, well, the mask of the new costume has her signature make-up. But just in case a red herring is, here are some other options.

Traditionally, in the comics, the role of Black Panther falls first for someone in the line of succession to Wakanda. But in 2018 Black Panther, Ryan Coogler and co-writer Joe Robert Cole introduced a ceremony in which Wakanda’s political factions get the chance to defeat the Black Panther in single combat, winning the mantle and crown. Which means it isn’t to have to be Shuri under that mask.


Lupita Nyong'O as Nakia, standing on a beach overlooking the ocean in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Image: Marvel Studios

Another strong contender for the role is Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, with considerable experience as one of Wakanda’s secret War Dog agents and the utmost loyalty to the Royal Family, as demonstrated in Black Panther (2018). If Marvel Studios managed to land the Academy Award-winning actress in a lead role, that would be a pretty big deal.


Image: Marvel Studios

Finally, if the new Black Panther is going to introduce someone in Black Panther, and not Shuri, and not Nakia, we may see Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje, in the costume. She has the skills, and Danai Gurira, who has reprized the character twice in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, has a history of making time for Marvel movies. It also looks like the MCU version of the Dora Milaje will be further explored in Wakanda foreverincluding their elite flying troops, the midnight angels. Perhaps it is all in preparation for Okoye to take the position she has always served under?


Aneka brandishes a glowing blade in her Midnight Angel armor in a trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Image: Marvel Studios

Speaking of the Midnight Angels, just about the wildest appeal Marvel could have here would be to hit one of the new ones cast members of Wakanda forever, and in that category no one is better positioned than Michaela Coel’s Aneka. Very little is known about the MCU version of the character, but in Marvel Comics Aneka is among the best of the Dora Milaje. She and her lover, Ayo – played by Florence Kasumba in Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity Warand The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — defected from the Dora in protest of T’Challa’s one-sided rule and to fight more directly for the safety of women in rural Wakanda.

But therein lies the depressing reason she probably isn’t in that costume: her character is canonically queer, and has been since her first appearance. While Marvel Studios has taken some small steps toward queer representation in the MCU, it still relegates such characters to tertiary roles and blink-or-you-will-miss moments.

So, finally? It’s almost certainly Shuri. The funny princess was a breakthrough character from Black Panther, while Wright is in the right place in her career (its beginning) to sign up for an Avengers-level role in the MCU. Shuri has precedent in the comics as Wakanda’s supreme protector, and the film’s new costume seems to share her character design.

But there’s no doubt about that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will have many more surprises in store than who is in the title role.

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