It looks as though T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, is reclaiming the mantle of the Black Panther in the first issue of her new ongoing series. The character’s profile is going through the roof due to Letitia Wright’s tremendous portrayal in Black Panther, and this is a remarkable indication of just how important Marvel believe she truly is.
Marvel Studios heavily adapted the character of Shuri for their Black Panther movie. T’Challa’s little sister was reinvented as Wakanda’s greatest genius, a cheeky teenager who’d cracked the secrets of Vibranium for her people. The studio clearly loved Wright’s version of Shuri, with Marvel insiders even suggesting she’s smarter than Tony Stark. Given the tremendous box office success of Black Panther, it’s no surprise that Marvel Comics has a plan to put Shuri in the spotlight, and that it involves making their version of Shuri more like the cinematic one.
This week sees Marvel launch their new Shuri ongoing series, written by Nigerian-American fantasy writer Nnedi Okorafor and with art by Leonardo Romero. Okorafor rewrites the character’s history, creating a whole new version who’s basically a blend of the traditional comic book hero and the one seen on the big screen. It’s clear that Marvel Comics believe Letitia Wright’s iteration has already come to define just who Shuri is, and that they want their version to be as similar as possible.
What’s more interesting, though, is that both the movies and the comics appear to be setting up the same kind of situation. In the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War saw Thanos succeed in his insane goal of erasing half the life in the universe, and Black Panther was one of his victims. The Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary has already confirmed that Shuri is the “heir presumptive,” and it’s entirely possible that she’ll take up the mantle of Black Panther as well. Meanwhile, in the comics, T’Challa has gone on a quest into the stars – and is missing. Although the constitution of Wakanda has changed in the comics of late, meaning Shuri won’t simply became monarch by default, this first issue ends with her being offered the Black Panther role once again.
While Shuri has been Black Panther before in the comics, this revised version should be very different. She’ll combine the character’s innovative approach to technology with the spiritual instincts of Wakanda that she came to embody under Ta-Nehisi Coates’s run. For one thing, it looks as though Shuri has cracked a new approach to flight, designing Vibranium wings that could easily be incorporated into a Black Panther outfit. An airborne Black Panther would be pretty formidable indeed.