When Black Panther hits screens in February, it will tell the story of T’Challa’s ascension to the Wakandan throne following the death of his father, T’Chaka, depicted in Captain America: Civil War. With his father’s passing, T’Challa also assumed the mantle of Black Panther, protector of Wakanda. The incumbent Black Panther is not only bestowed with mystical powers gained via a spiritual ritual and special heart-shaped herb, but he also wears a suit with distinctive properties.
But while T’Challa is indeed very capable as Black Panther – we’ve seen a glimpse of what he can do in the Marvel Cinematic Universe already – he’s nothing without his sister Shuri. Here’s why Shuri just might prove herself crucial to T’Challa’s reign and extremely important in both Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
Shuri is incredibly clever. She’s up there with the likes of Tony Stark and Hank Pym in the brainy-stakes. Director Ryan Coogler told Entertainment Weekly that Laetitia Wright’s Princess Shuri is “not only a fighter but a brilliant scientist on a par with Iron Man’s Tony Stark.” Her super-smarts alone would give Shuri an edge in many situations but, on top of this, her engineering skills are unique. And in fact, she’s leader of the Wakandan Design Group.
In an interview with Black Girl Nerds, Wright said: “She’s just someone who’s very innovative, very open-minded, and wants to help push her country Wakanda forward by using technology.”
A Tech Whizz
Shuri applies her genius to creating technology for Wakanda. The nation is rich in Vibranian, a valuable and powerful substance that can only be found within the confines of Wakanda. We’ve already seen a number of her weapons in the trailers, including a pair of heavyweight gauntlets. These twin blasters are designed in the shape of panther heads and look a bit like panther claws on steroids. We first see her wearing them emerging from the palace, fists raised and ready to strike.
She’s also responsible for designing the Panther Habits, or suits, worn by the Black Panther. Made from Vibranium, the habits are bullet-proof. Light enough and flexible enough to allow freedom of movement, the most striking aspect is an ability to absorb and redistribute energy to bestow the wearer with superpowers. Including cat-like abilities to fall from great heights while landing feet-first, unscathed.
While we don’t see much of her fighting abilities in previously released footage, she certainly looks ready to pitch in when it comes to battle. If not lead. And from the comics, we know that she’s got enviable martial arts skills. We expect to see Shuri on badass buttkicking form in Black Panther.
Comic Book Clues
In the comics, Shuri is a formidable character. She took on the role of Black Panther herself when T’Challa was injured. She also became the ruler of Wakanda in her own right. Comic-book Shuri, therefore, has all the same enhanced abilities that T’Challa has.
In addition to this, in the comics Shuri is able to transform herself into a bird; or, through direct contact, several people into a flock of birds. We might not see her display this ability in Black Panther, but who knows where the future of the MCU may take Shuri? She could be well-placed to take over from Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa should he meet his fate.