Black Panther: Wakanda Forever reveals a new person has taken on the Black Panther mantle, and here’s how they compare to Marvel Comics.
Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.Black Panther: Wakanda Forever brings a new MCU Black Panther to officially take up the mantle and there are quite a few differences from the original comic book storyline. This is the first movie that Shuri, portrayed by Letitia Wright, has starred in, although it marks her fourth MCU movie appearance. Shuri is now no longer portrayed as a side character as the film follows her journey to becoming the next Black Panther in order to save her home nation of Wakanda.
Following the death of actor Chadwick Boseman in 2020, who portrayed T'Challa in 2018's Black Panther, the second installment of the Black Panther franchise had to be rewritten without the original Black Panther. The original release date for Wakanda Forever was May 2022, according to Disney's release date schedule. It was delayed six months due to reported production concerns, likely due to the complications as Disney figured out how to tell the important story and continue Boseman's legacy. Ultimately, it was T'Challa's younger sister Shuri who took the mantel, mirroring the original comic storyline despite some notable differences.
In both the comics and the MCU, Shuri faces personal challenges, loss, and growth in her character arc that leads her to become the next Black Panther. According to the composer of the movie, it was such a powerful transformation that her arc even shaped the score. In the comics, Namor attempts to recruit T'Challa to join a secret council of supervillians called the Cabal. When T'Challa rejects the offer, he is attacked and falls into a coma leaving Wakanda vulnerable without its Black Panther. This is similar to where the storyline of Wakanda Forever starts as T'Challa in the MCU falls ill and passes away. In both cases, Shuri had to take the special heart-shaped herb to become the Black Panther.
However, the comic book version of Shuri was often resentful and jealous of her brother's title, and she had yearned to be the Black Panther for a long time. So, even though she took the herb the Black Panther Goddess didn't grant her the special powers right away. But when Shuri decides to risk her life and save her Wakanda (and T'Challa) anyway, the goddess sees her sacrifice and grants her the powers making Shuri the new Black Panther. In the MCU, Shuri had to overcome her grief in losing T'Challa and her mother to even attempt to recreate the herb in her lab after Killmonger destroyed it in Black Panther. Once she took the herb, she instantly became the Black Panther by power but not by spirit. She had to face her desire for revenge and figure out what the spirit of the Black Panther meant as she faced Namor.
After successfully recreating and taking the heart-shaped herb, Shuri gained super strength, speed, and stamina. Perhaps the most useful ability she gained appears to be healing abilities, which is seen at the end of the film after she removes a spear that had been forced through her abdomen and continues to fight. It is evident that in Wakanda Forever, Shuri's powers as the new Black Panther are strong. In the comics, Shuri also gains super speed and strength as the Black Panther. However, Shuri's comic book abilities are a little different, too. She gained the power to transform her skin into a stone-like substance that cannot be pierced or harmed. She is also able to transform into a bird and transform others into birds if they are in her presence.
The latter two abilities only came after training with the spirit of Djalia, which Shuri only gained access to after becoming the Black Panther. While she may have a wider array of powers in the comics, it appears that the MCU version of the Black Panther is stronger initially since Shuri hasn't undergone any additional training yet to gain even more abilities. It remains to be seen if the MCU will expand on Shuri's powers. Both versions of the character, though, are much stronger with their Black Panther suits than they are alone.
In both the MCU and the comics, Shuri's Black Panther suit is made of Wakanda's most valuable tool, vibranium. The Black Panther suit that Shuri debuted in the MCU is similar to the one she built for T'Challa. It appears to have the same nanotechology and energy absorption/distribution that T'Challa's had, although the design is altered slightly with different accent pieces and white dots on the mask. While recent comics have portrayed Shuri wearing a similar outfit, sometimes she is also seen wearing a fur collar, feathers, or a cape attached to her Black Panther costume which was not seen in the film.
Even though the MCU will often deviate from comic book storylines, looking at what happened to Shuri in the comics could provide a clue for what is next for the Black Panther. In the comics, once Shuri saves her brother and Wakanda from Namor by proving herself a worthy Black Panther, she actually keeps the role as T'Challa recovers. She ultimately maintains her status as a Black Panther alongside T'Challa until Avengers: Secret Wars. Thanos and Namor join forces in this comic storyline to claim Wakanda as their base of operations. Shuri winds up sacrificing herself in a battle with Thanos but T'Challa (who had since become the King of the Dead) brings her back to life in a later story.
While it is unlikely this exact story will be brought to the big screen, it is possible that Namor and Kang (instead of Thanos) could join forces in Secret Wars which could provide a similar storyline following two villains attempting to use Wakanda as their home base. The MCU Namor is not as powerful as Thanos so if he was to make an appearance in an Avengers movie, having him team up with another supervillian would make sense. However, if Shuri does die in battle it is unclear if she will be brought back to life as T'Challa will likely not be making a reappearance in the MCU after his death in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. While it remains to be seen how Shuri's MCU journey will unfold, it will be exciting to witness how her character continues to develop and if her story is similar to her comic book counterpart.
Next: Namor's Mutant Powers in the MCU Explained Properly
Mariah Mayhugh is a self proclaimed Marvel nerd, award winning children's book author, and advocate for epilepsy/disability representation in the media. When she isn't writing for Screenrant, Mariah spends her time serving her county as Miss El Paso County 2022/2023, dancing, advocating for epilepsy awareness in her home state of Colorado, or working on her dystopian thriller novel "The Banding."